Facebook and your Privacy, Pt. 2

Facebook Privacy Settings

Facebook… I have a love-hate relationship with it!

I love the fact that it is so easy to reconnect with your old friends, make new ones, network, find love, etc.

I hate the fact that it makes it so easy for Identity Thieves to get a hold of someone’s information.  I hate the fact that Facebook does share information about you with the third-party websites, applications and advertisers, although Facebook claims it does not.

“Facebook is about sharing” statement starts the Privacy Settings Guide.  I think it should be changed to “Facebook is about sharing too much”.  But, hey, Facebook is kind enough to let us “customize” the privacy setting and decide what information we want to share on and off Facebook.

I think that the press and bloggers have discussed this subject quite a bit when Facebook rolled out its new privacy settings, but I still see so many people making their personal information available for the whole world to see and it makes me a little bit nervous and worried.   This is why I think it is necessary for me to cover this subject once again.

So, let’s review the Privacy Settings and choose the best options to keep your information as private as it is possible.

Here is the Control Panel for your Privacy Settings:

Your Privacy options are set to the default, Facebook-suggested options.  And, of course, Facebook is all about sharing and it wants you to share as much information as possible.

Basic Directory Information section: Facebook makes information, such as your name, profile photo, gender and networks you belong to, visible to everyone.

Your name and profile photo have no privacy settings, unfortunately.  If you feel uncomfortable with sharing your photo, do not even upload it.

Other information, such as your hometown, current city, schools and interests, is visible to everyone by default.  You can change those.

Sharing on Facebook section: In this section you can change privacy setting for the information such as photos, videos, status updates, your bio, date of birth, contact information, etc.  I would suggest to override the default settings recommended by Facebook.

In order to keep your information as private as it is possible and ensure that it is not visible by the search engines and everyone who comes across your profile, it is imperative that you make some changes here.  I am going to make some suggestions, but it is absolutely up to you what you want to do with your privacy.

  • Posts by me. Change the default setting “Everyone” to “Friends only”
  • Family. Here is a question I have for you. Why do you want to reveal information about your family? Change it from “Everyone” to “Friends Only” or, better yet, “Customize” it by making it visible to “Only me”.
  • Relationships. I, personally, keep this information private and do not make it visible to anyone.  However, if you really want people to know that you just got engaged, then set it to “Friends only” option.
  • Interested in and looking for. The default setting is “Everyone”, but I would change it to “Friends only”.
  • Bio and favorite quotations. Make it visible just to “Friends only”.  If you decided to write your Bio, make it very basic and vague.
  • Website. I keep this information visible to “Everyone”.  I have created www.identitytheftmanifesto.com to share information about identity theft and my own experience with it.  Therefore, I would like to make this option available to everybody.  You will have to decide how you want to share this information with the world.
  • Religious and political views. I, personally, think that this information should be kept confidential and, frankly, it is no one’s business what my political and religious views are.  However, if this is something you are very passionate about, then go ahead and make this information available to “Friends only”.
  • Birthday. If you really want those Birthday wishes from all your 5000 Facebook friends, then only make a month and day visible to “Friends only”.
  • Places I check in to. This is a new feature, which allows you to check in to places from your mobile phone and share with others where you are at that particular moment.  It is a great concept, but is it safe to announce where you are? Personally, I would not even choose to use this application, but, if you are a social butterfly and you cannot live without this option, make the “places you check in to” visible only to your friends.
  • Contact Information. You should reveal as little information as possible.  I would set the sharing option to be visible to “Only me”.

Applications and Websites: In this section you control the information shared with applications and third-party partner websites.  This information includes your name, gender, networks, profile photo, your friend list, your friends’ information, and anything else you share with the others.

You are given an option to turn off the Applications and Websites platform altogether and limit access to your information.  You may not be able to play your favorite games.  But do not fret! Those games are very unproductive anyway.  Besides, by disabling this platform, your information will not be accessed through your friends and, perhaps, you will stop those pesky Farmville invites.

There are thousands of applications created every day; Facebook does not check them.  While you may be thinking that the application is innocent, your information maybe stolen and misused, or your computer got infected with a malicious code.

I have a question for you.  Do you know who your Facebook friends are?

About the Author

Lana is a real life Identity Theft Victim. Identity Theft Manifesto is a result of her own struggles to clear her credit, her name and reputation. She is on the mission to research, learn more and educate her readers about ID Theft Crime.