The New Facebook and Privacy

The new Facebook has provided its users with lots of new opportunities and challenges. I’ve written before about some of the things I like about the new layout, and I’ve also written about ways that you can customize what you see on the news feed. But with the forthcoming Timeline (profiles), along with the Facebook Open Graph sharing that is now available, privacy is a real concern.

It’s important that you take a few moments to learn about Facebook privacy settings in the new Facebook, and make the adjustments necessary to keep your information as private as you want it.

Now the first thing I’ll say is this: If you don’t want someone to know something you’ve previously posted to Facebook, delete it now. Once the Timeline becomes available, you’ll have the option to view “All Activity.” This is everything you’ve ever done on Facebook, sorted by date. From here, you can delete or change the visibility of individual items. Spend some time on this.

Another privacy issue you need to be aware of is the way 3rd party applications share your information. With the new Open Graph, sharing is taken to a whole new level. Now, when you read a book, listen to music, log a run, etc., these apps can automatically share your information on Facebook if you authorized it when setting up the application. Let me be clear…you don’t get to authorize individual posts. Rather, these post every time, after you give permission once.

Mashable has a good article that shows you some of this here, along with how to make adjustments:

It is also a good time for you to go into your default Privacy settings on Facebook. To access them, go to the upper-right corner of your Facebook screen and choose Account > Privacy Settings.

From the Privacy Settings screen, you want to review each option.

First, decide what visibility you want for all of your posts. Since I’m in marketing, I set my posts to Public by default. I keep this in mind with all the posts I put up. You can also choose to just have your Friends see your posts, or choose “Custom” and choose specific people or lists who either see or don’t see your posts.

Next, go through each of the other options, and review each individual setting. these include:

  • How You Connect: Who can look you up in the Facebook directory, Who can send you Friend Requests, Who can send you Facebook Messages, Who can post on your wall, and Who can see wall posts by others on your Profile.
  • How Tags Work: Here you control who can tag you on Facebook, and whether or not you get to approve tags first. I have Profile and Tag review on, because I like to see what I’m tagged in first, before it’s public on my wall. You can also control Tags suggestions, and whether friends can check you into Facebook Places from this menu.
  • Apps and Websites: From this section, you can control how apps share your information, and you can also review the permissions you’ve given to specific applications. This section also lets you determine how your information is used on websites that integrate with Facebook.
  • Limit the Audience for Past Posts: This feature addresses one of the concerns I mentioned above. If you set things to public in the past, you can limit all of these by default to Friends by using this option.
  • Blocked People and Apps: From here, you can block and unblock people and applications on Facebook.

One last piece to keep in mind: You can also set the visibility of individual posts. The easiest way to do this is by using the lists you’ve set up.

For each individual post, you can choose “Public,” “Friends,” “Custom,” or choose just one of your lists to see an individual post.

When you select Custom, you can get even more granular by selecting individual people or lists to see or not see individual posts.

After saving your changes, click Post like you normally do and the settings will apply to the individual post. Just be sure to double-check your settings with your next post, because sometimes they carry over unless you specify a different level of privacy for a post.

Facebook privacy should always be a real concern for each of us. People tend to post first and think later, which can bring negative consequences. It’s a good idea to always have the rule of thumb that if you wouldn’t put it on a sign in front of your house, don’t put it on Facebook. Then the rest of these settings are “nice to have” but not essential. Remember, Facebook can’t share it if you don’t post it.

How do you control your privacy on Facebook? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

4 Responses to The New Facebook and Privacy
  1. Gretchen
    September 29, 2011 | 2:32 pm

    The other issue regarding privacy is that when you tag someone, all of their friends can see it–even if you are only sharing with just your friends. The only solution I’ve found is to make a custom group and share only with that–then even if you tag people, only those people can see it. I’ve written a post on how to do that ( but go into more depth about how the tagging features now work here
    Gretchen recently posted..goodbyes & growing older

  2. Lenore Sanborn
    September 29, 2011 | 12:38 pm

    My biggest privacy concern is that of my friends. We all have friends and acquaintances that have polarized perspectives… and interestingly enough, these people tend to set their posts to “public” because they don’t really care who sees it. My worry is that with the new ticker feed, friends on the other end of the spectrum can be offended by my liking or commenting on this person’s post. I am still unclear on how to limit or control this. I can control what *I* post, but I cannot control what all of my FB associates post.

    • Gretchen
      September 29, 2011 | 12:43 pm

      Unfortunately, when you like or comment on a post that’s set to public, your like or comment is public–whether or not your friends on the other end of the spectrum unsubscribe from your likes and comments, they could still see it by going to that post or page. It’s all in the privacy of where you post, and there is no way to limit it except by not posting/liking.
      Gretchen recently posted..goodbyes & growing older

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