Facebook and Privacy (They don’t mix)

originally posted on Concept Hub

Facebook is constantly changing and changing fast.  That is actually the secret to their success.

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That means what you were once used to and comfortable with on Facebook will be different the next time you log on. This includes your assumptions about your privacy settings. A little over a year ago I gave up the idea of having any kind of privacy on Facebook. If I want it to be private I don’t post it on Facebook. 

With that said, you are not completely helpless when it comes to managing what you see and what other’s see on Facebook. But with all the changes people often get confused about what they can and cannot manage. This past week a number of my friends posted this in their status update:

Hello, my FB friends: I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. I post shots of my family that I don’t want strangers to have access to!!! However, with the recent changes in FB, the “public” can now see activities in ANY wall. This happens when our friend hits “like” or “comment” ~ automatically, their friends would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we can not change this setting by ourselves

because Facebook has configured it this way. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (DO NOT CLICK), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS” (also without clicking), then down to “Settings”, click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on “COMMENTS & LIKE” and also “PHOTOS”. By doing this, my activity among my friends and family will no longer become public. Now, copy and paste this on your wall. Once I see this posted on your page I will do the same. Thank you very much!

This is quite misleading and can be very confusing. So I am going to try to break it down.

The first sentence says:

I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. I post shots of my family that I don’t want strangers to have access to!!!

If you do not want your photos to be accessible to the public go to your privacy settings in the top right.

From here you can choose whether or not you want the default setting for your posts to be public or for “friends only” or custom.

Friends: Just people connected to you.

Public: Everyone

Custom: Certain friends only that you have put on a list.

There is also an only me option, but I do not know why anyone would want to only share with themselves….

Here is where Facebook recently changed. You used to be able to choose friends of friends as an option. Meaning if I am friends with you and your friend Sally has set her privacy settings to friends of friends, then I could see Sally’s posts even though I was not friends with Sally because you are a mutual friend. That is no longer an option for future posts, but it past posts remains set that way. That can be changed to friends only in the Privacy setting as well.

The next part of the Facebook status that is going around says:

However, with the recent changes in FB, the “public” can now see activities in ANY wall. This happens when our friend hits “like” or “comment” ~ automatically, their friends would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we can not change this setting by ourselves

This is not true at all. What the public can see is activity that happens on public walls.

As I mentioned, my profile is public, so you if post on,  comment on, or like a post on my wall the public will be able to see that activity and your friends may see that activity in their Facebook feed because it was a public action. This includes any activity on pages. So if you comment on or like something on a political page people will see it, because it was a public activity.

If however, you comment or like something on a friend’s page who has their settings as friends only, only her friends will see that activity.

Finally, the status says:

because Facebook has configured it this way. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (DO NOT CLICK), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS” (also without clicking), then down to “Settings”, click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on “COMMENTS & LIKE” and also “PHOTOS”. By doing this, my activity among my friends and family will no longer become public.

What this activity will do is ensure that YOUR friends will not see what you comment on or like or your photos. The people you WANT to share with will not be able to see what you are sharing, but the public will still be able to see your public activity.

Basically what the activity described does is to enable you to have control over what shows up in your feed from your friends. If you have a family member or friend that you feel obligated to stay connected to but you don’t like seeing their updates, you can take them out of your news feed or modify what you see from them. The activity described has nothing to do with what the public can see of your activity.

I hope this makes sense. But once again please keep in mind that whatever you share on Facebook or the Internet can be leaked or copied and shared. Therefore although you can manage your settings, never assume you have privacy, because we all know what assume means (ass-u-me).

Lifehacker also recently posted a great article about the many other ways you can manage your Facebook presence.