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Friday
May212010

What You Don't Know About Facebook's Privacy Settings Could Hurt You! 3 Things That You Need to Do Today To Protect Yourself

Over the past few weeks and months, Facebook has been a hot target of consumer angst over its repeated changes to privacy settings. Many have erupted over these recent changes that even link Facebook accounts to other outside websites. Since these updates, there are now over 50 choices to be made by Facebook users in order to completely secure their information.

Naturally, Facebook claims to be making these settings updates in order to simplify the process for Facebook users but I don't think there's a whole lot of merit to that claim. Things seem to be getting more and more complicated and there's seldom any warning or notice for such changes. I seem to find out about these privacy changes from other Facebook users and not from Facebook directly. Friends and Facebook users that I've spoken to seem to feel that having so many different privacy settings offers Facebook the greater advantage of a seeming abundance of loopholes through which to provide information to partner organizations or to extend Facebook's reach throughout the internet universe.

Why is it necessary that you read on and follow these next few steps? That's easy...because when Facebook adds new privacy parameters or settings, they typically determine that the default is to allow full access - or no privacy. What's wrong with this, and IMO what's unethical too, is that they SHOULD be setting the default to 'total privacy' and notifying all users of the update to allow them the option of loosening the privacy restrictions if they wish making full mention of the potential consequences of such a decision.

Your information could/may be searchable on Google right now and I'm not talking about just your favorite musical artists. This also includes your email address and other contact details that you may be storing there like your phone number and address, your birth date, and photos that you intended only to be shared with your friends/family. The following steps can be taken to lock down your account and should take between 10-15 minutes.

  1. Updating Privacy Settings. Unfortunately, this takes time but it's very important that you do this so that personal information doesn't end up in search engine search results as Facebooks indicates it will.

    From your Facebook page, in the upper right hand corner of your window, you'll see 'Home', 'Profile', and 'Account'.

    Click on 'Account'. From the dropdown menu that appears, then click on 'Privacy Settings'.



    The image below is what you should be seeing. We're going to concentrate on the first three categories for this step: 'Personal Information and Posts', 'Contact Information' and 'Friends, Tags and Connections'. Click on 'Personal Information and Posts' to get started.



    Here you'll see a variety of categories each with their own privacy setting. For example, by clicking on the button to the right of 'Bio and Favorite Quotations' you can see what options exist for this category. These are generally the same options used for all categories. My recommendation is, if you don't have much time to go through these one by one to determine what is important and what isn't, set them all to 'Friends Only' for now. Then, you can revisit these later if you'd like to address them individually. Do the same for all categories under 'Contact Information' and 'Friends, Tags and Connections' as well.



  2. From the 'Privacy Settings' page, select 'Search'.



    On this page you will want to de-select the 'Allow' Checkbox next to 'Public Search Results'. This will keep your information from being searchable on Google, Yahoo, etc.



  3. Your details may already have been shared with a company called:   

    Spokeo collects all kinds of personal information like phone numbers, addresses, personal photos, full demographics including hobbies and est. home value, est. credit score, est. income, and other details that you probably wouldn't want friends to know, let alone the general public. First, visit Spokeo.com to see if they've got a profile set up for you.

    If Spokeo has your profile set up, to remove your profile from Spokeo: Visit this Spokeo page to read the instructions.

I've included a short video clip below that is produced by Facebook which explains their privacy settings in a little more detail.



Facebook Privacy Explanation

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