Managing your Privacy Online: Facebook

By on May 18, 2010, 7:03 AM
Concerns over Facebook privacy have grown dramatically in recent weeks, prompted by changes to the company's terms of service that have progressively become more and more permissive when dealing with user's data. I want to be clear about something: I like Facebook. Although I don't consider myself a die-hard fan of the service, I use it every so often to keep in touch with old friends, share pictures with family members and that kind of stuff.

It's easy to demonize Facebook -- or any social network, for that matter -- without first taking a closer look at how we use the service and gauging the consequences of over-sharing. But on the other hand it's also true that some sites are not always forthcoming about how they handle your data. To quickly put things into perspective, Facebook has gone from sharing some basic personal information with your network and friends in 2005, to opening your profile up to the entire Internet and automatically enrolling you in their pilot programs as they look to monetize their huge user base.

Keeping track of Facebook's ongoing updates and changes, and how they affect your privacy, can be confusing and frustrating. For those that aren't down with broadcasting their entire lives online, here are some tips you can use to reclaim your privacy without resorting to a more drastic alternative like dropping the service altogether.

Read the complete article.

User Comments: 16

Got something to say? Post a comment
Route44 Route44, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

I too like it for the reasons you mention and I also am not a die-hard fan; only an occasional user.

A friend of mine from Florida sent me an email from her normal email address over a week ago that I immediately recognized was hers It contained only a link that directed me to a website selling viagra and cealis. When I emailed back telling her I really didn't need help she responded back fully embarressed. She swore she didn't send it.

I told her I know she didn't and that this was most likely due to Facebook's irresponsible new privacy policies and to check in to it. Sure enough everyone on her Facebook list received an email from the same address with the same link.

Guest said:

Glad your not the only one then I thought my friend was trying to tell me something when she sent me a link for Viagra. LOL

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

To much ads that really shouldn't be dump on the users. I know they need to generate money but adobe flash applets games on there have way to much freedom to keep asking you to give your email so you can receive perks and such. Cafe World very popular and can grow on you. I use the site 90% but I don't link my cell phone to the Facebook for the same reason. Privacy!

BabyFaceLee BabyFaceLee said:

Thanks for the heads-up guys. I signed up to Facebook only yesterday but will make sure I've buttoned it down as you suggest.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Excellent article. I just posted it on Facebook for all of my 267 friends to read.

windmill007 said:

Funny thing lock facebook down to much and it's will make it harder to communicate and find friends. I know when I get a friend request you can't always tell by there picture or name. Sometimes it takes viewing more pictures or other information to jog ur memory who that person is. But on the locked down profiles you see nothing. I'm glad not everyone reads this privacy stuff because they would just turn everything off not even knowing what they are doing. I for one will not send this to any of my friends. I got my privacy settings just they way I want them.. I enjoy being able to see more information on other peoples profiles so I hope the majority will keep the default settings.

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

Concerns over Facebook privacy have grown dramatically in recent weeks,

Read the full article at:


Please leave your feedback here.

BRAVO Julio well done and nicely showing concern for the community -- impressive

Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

For the sake of clarity, the article was written by Jose.

Jos Jos said:

I see your point @windmill007 and agree to an extent, after all, the whole purpose of social networks revolves around the 'social' interactions between its users. The more you lock it down, the harder it is for others to find you and communicate with you. That said, Facebook's default privacy settings are far from optimal IMO.

The article explains the reasoning behind each recommended tweak so users can decide themselves how much information they want to share. If you are not using Facebook to 'make new friends' but rather to keep in touch with people you already know, it makes sense to tone down some settings so that your contact information, photo albums and activity are not openly available to anyone that stumbles upon your profile on the site.

Then there are other things Facebook does without users' consent that are worth calling out, like letting your friends share details about you through applications or sharing your data with third party websites. Take this for what it is -- an informative piece for users concerned about privacy, and not a definite guide on the settings you *should* use. Thanks for the feedback, everybody.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Most Facebook users limited the personal wall. Way to much info on that. Mine sucks in everything and people post the too much of their life on the walls. I did a search on and boy you can see how bad the privacy issue is. You can see you personal images appear all over the web. I that issue with Youtube. My videos are on some sites I never heard of before.

Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Thanks for the writeup, I actually saw a piece on F-secure's weblog on this yesterday, then when I came home saw this writeup too

I already had changed some of the things mentioned, but locked down some further stuff like not letting your friends share details about you through applications

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

For the sake of clarity, the article was written by Jose.

OOPS; no offense intended

IanDSamson said:

I am a very regular Facebook user, both in my capacity as a real person and as my alter ego. I would love it if Facebook allowed Adult pictures to be posted so that those on my Alter Ego list of friends could share my massive collection of pictures without any restrictions.

Night Hacker Night Hacker said:

This is a great article and I have linked it for my friends to read on Facebook. I really didn't find it all that complicated to adjust the privacy settings, it's kind of nice to be able to limit some things and allow others. Seems overly complicated to some, but I can see the value of giving the user full control as well. I don't tend to see a conspiracy around every corner like some.

Guest said:

eye-opener this one.

i reviewed each and every privacy setting after reading this.

and i STILL don't feel secure! :(

i don't want to delete my account either because it's how i keep in touch with friends and family!

there's gotta be a better way to facebook than being eaten by the virtual privacy predators!

IanDSamson said:

Fa[r]cebook Privacy

Users must force Facebook to demand that search engines like Google etc STOP indexing their pages. I was blackmailed into doing something I did not feel I had to do because people found information about me by searching using search engines, and most hits were Facebook. Facebook must add [robots=none] to their HTML code so that NO ROBOTS will index any Facebook pages.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.