To fully understand privacy on Facebook, and how it's likely to evolve, you need to understand one thing. In short: Facebook executives want everyone to be public. As
the service evolves executives tend to favour open access to information, meaning as time marches on information you think is private will slowly become public.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be priv ate if you w ant to; Facebook gives its users the option to lock things down. But users need to be aware of the controls, how to use
them and how to prepare for future Facebook privacy changes. Facebook hasn’t, and w on’t, make this information obv ious, and that’s w here this guide comes in.
A realistic look at privacy online
Think about the reality of your information online. Information about you is already available in many places, so you need to remain aware of the whole picture in order to keep yourself, your friends and your family safe.
Ensure that the information you put online can't be collected to put yourself or anyone you know in danger. For example:
I f your name and address appear in the phone book, don't publicly tell people on Facebook when you're going away for the weekend.
A basic way to guard your privacy is to behave as if every piece of information online is already public. Given this premise, try not to add anything to a picture that allows a stranger to know exactly where you will be, where you live or puts you in danger in any way.
I t's a good idea to understand the many ways in which your privacy could be breached online. It's not always what you might expect.
Your friends might share your information without knowing you wanted to keep it private. For example:
◦ Putting photos of you online or tagging you in photos (especially those which make it clear where you were at a given time).
◦ Sharing your phone number, address or child's name.
◦ Mentioning publicly that you are going away for the weekend.
◦ Excitedly sharing news you only wanted a few people to know.
◦ Accidentally sharing a screenshot that shows your private information.
Someone might deliberately share your information. For example.
◦ After a relationship break-up or a fight between friends.
◦ Because of jealousy or rivalry (love triangles, classmates, co-workers, siblings). Someone might be tricked or coerced into showing your information as they
Someone else might have a security breach (virus, left account logged in).
People might lie about who they are to get your trust (or someone else's).
Default privacy settings may change.
Someone might hack into your data.
Police might legitimately ask to access your data (or a friend's data),
exposing your actions to a public court case.
There may be a glitch that exposes information.
A hacker or ex-friend may deliberately spread misinformation about you.
You get the idea: human error and technical glitches can and will occur, while some people may hurt you deliberately.
The best defence? Be careful what is online in the first place. Privacy settings help, but that’s it. Don't ev er trust the settings to protect you entirely.
I f there is anything you specifically want to keep private for any reason, make sure your friends know what it is and why. For example:
You may work in a profession where it is prudent to keep your true identity obscured (teaching, law, military secrets, mental health care).
The trick with setting your privacy settings is to consider all possible privacy breaches, then use the privacy settings to minimise the possibility of a breach (or reduce the damage caused by a breach). For example:
I f you never put your sexy bedroom photos on Facebook, then a Facebook glitch will never accidentally be make them public.
Better still: don't take any.
Set your privacy settings so that photos of you are, tagged by other people, are seen only by a specific list of friends. This means unflattering party photos taken aren’t seen by everyone you know.
Filtering, so that your co-workers can't see comments on your wall, will limit their exposure to personal comments made by your friends.
Hopefully we've got you thinking about what you need to control, and why. The rest of this guide looks at how , so let’s get started!