Facebook Keeps A-Changin’

Yes,  Facebook has changed your privacy controls  yet again, which now feels like the 10th time this year. The repeated changes Zuckerberg has made to Facebook has subsequently confused and angered users, even prompting a “Quit Facebook Day“. With bad press circulating, Facebook decided to simplify controls making it easier to decide what and most importantly what not you want to share.

Understanding These Controls

The first difference you will see with the privacy settings is not new features, but rather the consolidation of many. Facebook has reduced the number of settings from nearly 50 to less than 15. Now users can change many different settings with a single click, rather than manually selecting (or more likely deselecting) each individually. Facebook has also reduced the number of separate pages in the privacy settings page from 13 to 8.

The picture above illustrates how the controls have been redesigned. Facebook hopes to alleviate your frustration with privacy, so next time you log in make sure to check out the lay out. If you would like to read more about the changes you can read “Controlling How You Share” explanation or the “understanding the changes” blog post.

It Takes a Village – Protect your privacy on Facebook

There has been a LOT of discussion about Facebook’s policies regarding your personal information on the web. The web site ReclaimPrivacy.org has launched a privacy scanner for you to use to see if any of your personal information is vulnerable on the web.

These directions on how to scan your profile are also available on the website:

  1. Drag this link to your bookmark bar.
  2. Log into facebook.com and click on the bookmark.
  3. A series of six scans will be run on your profile.
  4. Anything that rates below Good (green) will be flagged and will provide you links to those relevant privacy settings to change.

I initially received two Cautions (yellow) that I was able to tweak to attain Good ratings across the board. It is advisable you make the same tweaks to your settings to maintain the same level of security. We also recommend you encourage all of your friends to scan their own profiles.

Facebook, for right or for wrong, has taken a lot of flack for not protecting users’ personal information. However, all of these issues can be resolved if users take personal responsibility for their privacy settings. If you fail to take proper care of your privacy settings, you are leaving you and your friends’ personal information vulnerable on the web.

Facebook as a phone book? #FBFAIL

Facebook_3screenshot

A recent (and much heralded) update to the Facebook iPhone 3.0 app brought some much needed functionality to the Facebook junkie on the go – access to Facebook events, the ability to ‘like’ content, notes and zoom in on photos.  Yay!

What many did NOT anticipate, however, was the contact update that allows you to call your Facebook friends that list their phone number(s) directly from the updated app.  That’s right, if you have your phone number(s) posted in your profile accessible to your friends/contacts, they can CALL you all easy-like.

Last night, scrolling through the updated Facebook contacts on my iPhone and saw a blue phone icon next to a very famous publisher’s contact info. Assuming it would just go to an office line and an answering machine, I gave it a call – and what do you know…. it was his cell phone. And we chatted. He was a little surprised, as was I.

Facebook_contactphone

Lesson learned here – Facebook privacy settings are your friend.  This morning, as you surf the Web, take a look at your ‘Contact Information’ settings and double check who sees what.  Want to share all of your contact info with close friends or family only?  Select the appropriate Friend List and you’re done.

Don’t want anyone seeing your information at all? Keep your settings to private or hey, just keep them blank… unless you’d like a late night phone call from one of the Schipulites too. Talk to you soon?

Facebook_mobilephoneedit

Facebook_blankcontactinfo

Facebook privacy and YOU – watch those apps!

privacyhand

While concerns of privacy and content ownership are old news for Facebook users, a recent mix up with Facebook advertisers has gotten more than a few Facebook fans on their heels.

A scenario:  Imagine being a loving husband who is going about his day, sipping his coffee, checking his Facebook updates and then… pow!!!… up pops a photo of his wife on a dating site ad.  Unhappy much?  Yes, we think so.

Long story short, (some) Facebook advertisers stepped out of line with Facebook advertising policy and used photos of users (without their permission) in their ads – happily married or not, this poor couple had no say in how their images were used on the network.  YIKES!!!

The good news is that Facebook has just announced a new ad policy which will keep your private user data out of the hands of scheming 3rd party networks.  Nice to see Facebook taking a stronger stance, we certainly hope they maintain this aggressive approach – privacy is beyond important and maintaining their users’ trust should be the utmost thought in any software developer and Community builder’s mind.

  • http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/07/facebook-ads.html
  • http://www.allfacebook.com/2009/07/facebook-advertising-policy/

In a post on his Public Relations and Web Marketing blog, our fearless CEO, Ed Schipul, made a further interesting recommendation for Facebook users – UFAID! :

We propose September 1st 2009 as Uninstall Facebook Applications Internationally Day (UFAID).

Not all applications mind you, just the ones you don’t trust or recognize.

To uninstall your Facebook Applications follow these steps:

  1. Login to Facebook
  2. Click on your “Profile” link at the top of the page.
  3. Scroll down to the “Applications” link on the lower left. Click it.
  4. Click “Edit Apps” link which should take you to a page like this: http://www.facebook.com/editapps.php
  5. IMPORTANT Change “Show” from “Recently Used” to “Authorized”!
  6. Click the “X” next to the applications you want to remove.
  7. Confirm.
  8. Repeat until all cruft and untrustworthy applications are removed.

Find any applications you did not realize were installed? Yup, thought you would. Put them in the comments below so we can see the sneaky ones?

Photo thanks to Flickr user Cortnie.dee

Trend Tuesday: You’re a Facebook pro, your friends are not

Tired of getting tagged in embarassing photos?  Yeah, us too.
Tired of getting tagged in embarassing photos? Yeah, us too.

File this under ‘(semi) oldie, but goodie’, this Facebook Blog post on 10 Facebook Privacy Settings is still incredibly invaluable if you’re one of thousands that find themselves logging on to Facebook for more business than pleasure these days.

So how do you separate your cool business persona from your old grungy college dorm pals on Facebook?

Glad you asked, here are our top 5 ways to keep your image all pretty-like on Facebook in the face of even the most obnoxious photo tagging collegial chums:

  1. Create friend lists
    Friend lists (accessible by visiting www.facebook.com/friends) are an easy way to sort your Facebook contacts into your own personal Facebook spheres that each sport their own privacy policy. This is not only an easier way to read updates and see content specifically for a group of people you want to catch up with, but lets you control who sees your content too.Don’t want your co-workers to see last weekend’s birthday party photos (see #4 below)?  You get to say what friend lists, networks and even specific people can see them (and very specifically NOT see them).

    You are a multi-faceted person, so create whatever kind of friend lists work for you:  ‘college friends’, ‘high school friends’, ‘family’, ‘work’ or ‘roller derby pals’.  The point of being on Facebook is to connect with people you want to stay in touch with and/or grow a relationship with.  Make sure that you customize, tweak and mold Facebook into the exact kind of tool you need.

  2. Take control of your search (be invisible or be bold!)
    You may not be interested in your Facebook profile showing up in Facebook searches at all!  Update your Privacy Search page and customize your Search Visibility by selecting from the dropdown box.  Also take a peek at what content a search for you will come up with on Facebook (your profile pic, friends, fanpages, etc. to further customize your search experience.

    For further privacy, uncheck your ‘Public Search Listing’ box to remove you from search engine indexing.  This means that no one searching on Google or Yahoo will come across your Facebook profile when searching.

  3. Watch your contact information
    Depending on how open you are or what your professional goals are on Facebook, you might want to go all out and include your mobile phone number, your birthday and even your physical address.  But many of us want to keep some of those personal details under major wraps.

    Visit your Privacy>Profile page to select who gets to see what on your profile — you get to fine tune your friends’ access to your info.  From basic details to contact info to work experience, you have the final say on who has access to what.  Still concerned?  You can even test drive your profile’s privacy by typing in a Facebook friend’s name to see how they see your profile.

  4. Embarassing photos?  Forget about it!
    Facebook also lets you control who can see your Photo Albums – so you can send your goofy river trip photos to your family and select friends — or make it visible only to the  Friend Lists you specify.Go to your Privacy page >> Profile >>  ‘Edit Photo Albums Privacy Settings’ and select the dropdown applicable to who you’d like to see/not see that album.  To choose from your Friend Lists, select the ‘Custom’, select ‘Some Friends’ and then choose the Friend Listing from the dropdown box.

    If you want to limit who sees Photos and Videos that haven’t uploaded yourself but have been tagged in (remember those embarassing high school prom photos!?), select the dropdown and select ‘Custom’ > ‘Some Friends’ > and then choose the Friend Listing you want.  No more problems!

  5. Cloak your facebook activity
    Not everyone needs to know when you’ve gone through a relationship status change, have left a note on a friends’ wedding photo or have added a friend.  Check out your News Feed and Wall page to make sure that only the actions you want made public are, in fact, public.

Photo thanks to Flickr user (and awesome publication) Found Magazine