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It’s a Group Thing

Facebook surely has its fans and foes, and undoubtedly flaws.   There is of course virtue in connecting with old and new friends on Facebook.  One of those virtuous places within Facebook can be found in Facebook Groups.  You can start your own, or join an existing group.

You never know who or what you may encounter in a Facebook Group.  In my experience, I’ve unexpectedly heard from my high school math teacher, (“I’m still kicking” was his post) as well as my childhood next door neighbor.  I planned a work reunion for about 35 people that turned into 200 people.  Expect the unexpected but expect nostalgia on a grand scale if you join an alma mater or neighborhood group. My childhood neighborhood group has pictures of the neighborhood that span decades and occasionally I’ll see a familiar name in a post or comment.

So how do you find such groups?  You can use Facebook’s search and see what suggestions appear, for example the city you grew up in (or current town) followed by “group”  (e.g., Fresh Meadows group) to keep up to date on local news, commentary, and nostalgia.  You will have to click on Join, and at some point an admin for the group will make you a member.  If the group is public you will be able to see posts without joining.  You must be a member to post or comment.  There are 3 different privacy settings a group may have.  Click here to find out more about group settings.

In addition to searching for a particular group you can explore a myriad of Facebook Groups by category.  There are multiple ways, but the way that currently works on all devices is to search “groups discover”  then click on  Groups Discover.  Or search “create group” to easily start your own group.

Once a member of one or more groups, you’ll see updates from the group in your News Feed. Read not only the posts but also comments as you may find a lost classmate or neighbor or who knows?  I’d love to hear if you’ve had any interesting group encounters!

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3 Time Saving Facebook Tips

time is precious

If you are reading this post, most likely you’re spending a fair amount of time on Facebook, maybe more than you’d like. Of course there are times when you are not on a schedule, and just want to relax and browse your friends and photos.  However when you’d like your visits to be more efficient, here are a few tips to help save you a bit of time.

1. Turn off  Video Auto Play – Does it drive you crazy that videos automatically play as you peruse your Facebook News Feed? You can easily turn this feature off by clicking on Settings (or Privacy Shortcuts, See More Settings), and then Videos. Set Auto Play Videos off.

2. Save News Feed Items and Read Them Later – Did you even know you could do this? This feature was rolled out at the beginning of last year. If you click on the drop down arrow at the top right of a post, you will see an option to Save post, Save link, or Save video. Then in the left column of your News Feed, under Favorites, you’ll see Saved. Click on this link, and all your saved posts will be available for reading until you delete them. (If you’re using the Facebook App on your mobile device, click on More to find the Saved option.)

3.  Prioritze your News Feed – Do you check your News Feed daily (or more frequently) to see posts from your favorite people or business pages?  Another Facebook feature introduced last year allows you to prioritize posts you see in your News Feed.  On your desktop, click on the drop down arrow on the far right of your top blue menu bar.  Select News Feed Preferences, then Prioritize who to see first.  All of your friends and business pages will display; click on those you wish to appear at the top of your News Feed, or click again to deselect. You can also click on the All button on the left to switch the view to Friends only, Pages only, or People you see first.  (Also from News Feed Preferences you can Unfollow a person or business if they are clogging up your feed. Note you can unfollow someone and still remain Facebook friends, or unfollow a business while remaining a fan, and no one will never be the wiser).

Of course the best way to minimize your Facebook time is just don’t look!!!  Please comment and share your Facebook time saving tips, I’d love to hear them!

 

Manage Your Facebook News Feed

looking at fYes we are addicted to Facebook, we have admitted that to ourselves already.  We receive positive reinforcement whenever someone likes our comments or posts to our Timeline.  And we love all the love from the many birthday greetings.  The benefit of Facebook is that it connects us to friends, acquaintances, and businesses.  It is a great networking tool, but not when we miss posts, or have so many posts we can’t find the ones that are important to us.  Facebook is not as much fun when we start missing out.

If you’ve been on Facebook for a while, the number of friends and pages you’ve liked no doubt has grown to the point where you cannot possibly see every update from every friend and page.   You may already know that your News Feed is filtering all these posts – you are not seeing every post from every friend  and business you’ve liked. How Facebook filters is their secret,  and it does change periodically. What to do?  Check out these suggestions for using facebook.com (mobile app options do exist though may be slightly different than depicted here).

1.  Sort your  News Feed by Most Recent rather than Top Stories.  You will then see updates in the order they were posted, rather than by the order Facebook believes is most relevant for you.  Try it both ways and see the difference.  The option is in the left column of your News Feed, under Favorites.  Once you set the filter to Most Recent it may reset to Top Stories,  so you may want to notice how you’re filtering when you land on your News Feed.  News Feed

2.  Use the Pages Feed.  To easily see updates from business pages that you have liked,click on your Pages Feed  (left column of  your News Feed below Favorites list).  You may be surprised at what you’ve been missing! Pages Feed

3.  Create Friends Lists.  I really think this is the best way of controlling your News Feed, and easily seeing what is most important to you. Click on Friends from the left column of your News Feed, then Create List.    Enter a list name (e.g., Friends with Dogs, Book Club), add friends to the list, and when you click on Create, your News Feed will now be filtered by this list.  To see your full News Feed, click on Home (or News Feed from your Favorites in left column).  Once you have lists you can just click on the list name under Friends (from your News Feed)  to filter your News Feed to see only updates from people on the list.Friends

Note that Facebook has already created 3 friend lists for you:  Close Friends (will appear more frequently in your News Feed), Acquaintances (will appear less frequently in your News Feed), and Restricted.  (Put people on your Restricted list if you only want them to see posts you’ve made public.)  If you don’t see all your lists, click on Friends from the left column of your News Feed to see them all.  If you are on a friend’s Timeline and want to add them to a list, just click on Friends near the bottom of their cover photo, and you will see an option to add them to an existing list (you can also create a new list here).

Once you make use of  Friends Lists to filter your News Feed, you can also use  your lists as a sharing option when you post.  A friend can be on multiple lists, and only you (and Facebook) are aware of the list.

Facebook also has 4 Smart Lists, lists which automatically update dependent upon information in your profile and profiles of your friends.Smart Lists

 

4.  Be direct.   Of course you can always go directly to the Timeline of a friend or business.  This is the best way to make sure you have not missed any updates.

This may all sound like a bit of  “work” but really, it is easy to manage your News Feed – try it, you’ll like it (no Facebook pun intended)!

5 Facebook Privacy Settings You May Have Missed

Missed Facebook Privacy Settings

When I coach people on how to use Facebook I emphasize that although Facebook encourages you to share, you are ultimately in control of how you share your data. Yes there is data Facebook considers public – your name, profile picture, gender, cover photo, networks, and username.

All else on Facebook you control, that is if you can find how to set your privacy options!  Facebook recently added a Privacy Shortcuts link to its top blue menu bar (desktop)  to help you access your Privacy Settings.  You can click on See More Settings from Privacy Shortcuts to see additional Privacy and Account settings.

However some Facebook Privacy Settings are not as obvious or easy to find.  Here are 5 that you may have missed and how to navigate them from your desktop (mobile experience will vary):

1.  Set privacy for your Friends List –  do you want others to be able to view your Friends List?  Click on Friends from your Timeline, then look for the pencil at the top right of the list.  When you click on this pencil you can edit your privacy settings for your Friends List as well as those you Follow. (Note you automatically Follow your Friends.  You can also Follow others without becoming their Friend if they have enabled this feature.)

2.  Opt out of appearing in Facebook Ads–  Do you want your name and/or profile picture to appear in a Facebook or Third party ad? There are two settings to take a look at, which give permission to pair your social actions (a Like of a business for example) with an ad.  One is a Facebook ad, the other is an ad on another website (however this is not a current feature). Click on Privacy Shortcuts, See More Settings, then Ads.  Choose Edit in two places – for Third Party Sites, also Ads and Friends, so you can select the No One option to opt out.  Don’t forget to Save Changes.

3.  Opt out of receiving Facebook Ads based upon  your web browsing activity outside of Facebook.  Do you want to see ads on Facebook based upon your online browsing/shopping?  Perhaps handy, perhaps creepy.  Click on Privacy Shortcuts, See More Settings, then Ads.  There is an Opt Out option within Website and Mobile App Custom Audiences.  If you do choose to Opt Out, note that if you at a later time clear your browser cookies, you will have to opt out again.

4.  Restricted List – add a “friend “ to your Restricted list.  If you do, they will only see items you post publicly.  Handy if you confirm a friend request for someone you are uncomfortable sharing with.  They will not know you have restricted them. Click on Privacy Shortcuts, See More Settings, then Blocking, then Edit next to Restricted List.  Alternatively click on Friends on the Cover Photo of the Timeline of your friend, Add to Another List (if Restricted is not shown), and click on Restricted.

5.  Share Options for Your Personal Data: Do you know whom you are sharing your personal data with?  Click on Update Info from the bottom of your Cover Photo.  Each item of information has an icon which depicts your share option.  If you don’t see one, click on the Edit pop up when you hover over the item.  Click on the icon to see/set your sharing preference.  Again, don’t forget to Save Changes.  You may be surprised at what info you are sharing publicly.

Hope this post helps you take fuller control of your Facebook sharing.  Periodically check the Settings pages, as Facebook does at times change wording and setting options.  Happy sharing (or not)!

 

Your Digital Afterlife

Facebook Legacy

Now that most of us have a digital presence (Facebook,  Google +, Twitter, Pinterest accounts, digital music libraries on iTunes, pictures on Shutterfly, email, cloud storage), what happens when we are no longer around to manage our various social media or online storage accounts?   An estate executor knows about closing bank and investment accounts, but what about social media and other online accounts which store our digital assets?   Will anyone have access to retrieve paperless account statements via email?  Could our digital footprint be causing an increase in postmortem identity theft?  Have no fear, digital estate planning does exist and we are sure to be hearing more about it as our online content grows.

A student specifically enrolled in my Facebook class to learn how to close her account due to suggestions she received from Facebook mentioning her deceased cousin.  I would agree that getting a friend request from a deceased relative or acquaintance is unsettling.  In contrast, I recently visited the Facebook Timeline of a deceased coworker and friend.  Although he passed well over 2 years ago, his Timeline is full of recent loving messages which hopefully are a comfort to both his family and friends.

Each online service provider has its own policy regarding handling of deceased account owner’s data. Most policies do not allow another party access to a deceased’s account.  Facebook provides two choices.  You can memorialize the deceased party’s account or family can request the removal of the account.  Using Facebook’s help feature you can use the search term “deceased” to find information and exercise one of these options.  Facebook also allows you to create a page as a memorial for a deceased individual (but not a personal account).

Recently Google released an Inactive Account Manager which allows you to determine what to do with your data from its various services once you can no longer use your accounts.  Your accounts can be deleted or data transferred to someone you specify after a specified time of inactivity.

As social media continues to evolve and more people have active digital lives, there are sure to be new developments on this topic.  Much is still unclear and confusing as Federal and state laws are inconsistent, and providers have their own terms of use policies.  Your estate planning attorney should be able to help address your digital asset planning needs.

Hmmm….remember when computers were supposed to reduce paperwork?

Revisiting Facebook Privacy (Again)!

Nerd

Reviewing your Privacy Settings

Privacy and protection of personal data is always a concern on Facebook.  We know we should periodically review Facebook Privacy and Account settings.  There are two good reasons to do this.  First Facebook occasionally creates new settings especially when new features are introduced.  You want to be sure you agree with Facebook’s  default settings for new features.  Second, your sharing preferences may change over time.   You can change your mind and perhaps your settings are too strict, or most likely not strict enough.

Facebook recently revamped some  privacy settings, so if you haven’t reviewed your settings lately, now would be a good time.  Think of it as an early spring cleaning.  Facebook has created a new shortcut to assist you.  Have you noticed there is a new privacy icon on the top blue menu bar, next to Home?

Menu Bar

Private or Public?

What information on Facebook is private vs. public?  Facebook considers  your name, profile picture, and cover photo public information.  You cannot set these items to friends only.

If you click on Privacy Shortcuts (next to Home), then click Who Can See my Stuff?  and finally click on View As, you can see how your Timeline looks to someone who is not your friend, your Timeline public view.  If you see posts and photos other than your profile and cover photos,  this means these items have a share option of  “public”.  If you want to limit these posts to friends only, you have two options.

First, from your Timeline you can click on Activity Log, and then from the left menu column, click on Your Posts.  You can then change your share options on individual posts.  Or, to change all your posts all at once, click on Privacy Settings from the top right blue menu bar tool gear, then click on Limit Past Posts from the Who Can See My Stuff category, then click on Limit Old Posts.

What about other data that is showing publicly on your Timeline?  You will need to check your share options on the About, and Likes links found on your Timeline. Click on each link and then the Edit options to modify your share settings.

Internet Access of your Timeline

Did you know you have a Facebook username that allows anyone direct access to your Facebook Timeline?  Try it yourself by using the URL address http://www.facebook.com/firstname.lastname  and see what shows up.  Make sure you are logged off from Facebook when you do this.  (You can validate your username by going to Account Settings, General.)

If you get a message that says “This content is currently unavailable” good for you!  This means you have updated your Facebook Privacy settings and disabled search engines from finding your account.  You can update this setting in the Privacy Settings,  Who can look me up?  section.   When “Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline” is set to Off, your Timeline will not be found by a Google or Bing search.

If your Timeline does appear, take note of what is showing.   Aside from your name, profile picture, and cover photo,  everything else showing has a share option of  public that you should be able to modify!

Class Action Suit

If you are not happy with Facebook’s handling of your privacy, go ahead and join the current class action suit against Facebook.   This suit covers Facebook Sponsored Stories, which are ads that may have contained your name or name and photo. You won’t get rich, but you can make your claim and possibly receive up to $10.  You may have received a legal notice email  that you ignored.

Not to worry if you can’t find the email.  You can use this link to file a claim and find out more information,  You will need your Facebook username.  You can find your  username by clicking on Account Settings, General.

What’s Next?

I don’t know if anyone can say for sure how the new Graph Search may impact our Facebook lives, but for now, it does not hurt to find ways to help ensure our privacy.  My rule is if you post, protect – but don’t post anything that would cause you discomfort if it became public!

 

Using Facebook More but Enjoying it Less?

looking at fYes we are addicted to Facebook, we have admitted that to ourselves already.  We receive positive reinforcement whenever someone likes our comments or posts to our Timeline.  And we love all the love from the many birthday greetings.  The benefit of Facebook is that it connects us to friends, acquaintances, and businesses.  It is a great networking tool, but not when we miss posts, or have so many posts we can’t find the ones that are important to us.  Facebook is not as much fun when we start missing out.

If you’ve been on Facebook for a while, the number of friends and pages you’ve liked no doubt has grown to the point where you cannot possibly see every update from every friend and page.   You may already know that your News Feed is filtering all these posts – you are not seeing every post from every friend  and business you’ve liked.  How Facebook filters is their secret,  and it does change periodically.   What to do?

1.  Sort your  News Feed by  Most Recent rather than Top Stories.  You will see updates in the order they were posted, rather than by the order Facebook believes is most relevant for you.  Try it both ways and see the difference.  The option is on the top right of the beginning of your News Feed.  Once you set the filter to Most Recent it may reset to Top Stories,  so you may want to notice how you’re filtering when you land on your News Feed.

2.  Use the Pages Feed.  To easily see updates from business pages that you have liked, click on your Pages Feed  (left column of your News Feed).  You may be surprised at what you’ve been missing!

3.  Create a Friends list.  I really think this is the best way of controlling your News Feed, and easily seeing what is most important to you. Click on Friends from the left column of your News Feed, then Create List.    Enter a list name (e.g., Book Club, Gym Friends) add friends to the list, and when you click on Create, your News Feed will now be filtered by this list.  To see your full News Feed, click on Home or News Feed from the top left column.  Once you have lists you can just click on the list name under Friends (from your News Feed)  to filter your News Feed to see only updates from people on the list.

Note that Facebook has already created three friend lists for you:  Close Friends, Acquaintances, and Restricted.  (Put people on your Restricted list if you only want them to see posts you’ve made public.)  If you are on a friend’s Timeline and want to add them to a list, just click on Friends under their cover photo, and you will see an option to add them to an existing list (you can also create a new list here).

4.  Create an Interests list.  An Interest list will filter your News Feed by specific business pages or a combination of  business pages and friends.  Click on Interests from the left column of your News Feed, then Add Interests, Create List, and enter the people or pages you want on the list.  Interest lists can be private,  available to your friends, or public.  They will filter your News Feed as a Friends list will when you click on the name of the list from the left column of your News Feed.  If you are on a business page you can add that business to an existing Interest list or a new Interest list by clicking on Liked (beneath the cover photo) and selecting the option.

5.  Manage friend updates.  If you want to manage the updates from friends that you do see, go to their Timeline , click on Friends (under their cover photo).  There you will find an option to show or not show their updates in your News Feed, and if you decide you do want to see their updates, you can select which updates to see.  Does this guarantee you will see their updates in your News Feed?  I would not bet on it but it will eliminate updates you wish not to see!

6.  Be direct.   Of course you can always go directly to the Timeline of a friend or business.  This is the best way to make sure you have not missed any updates.

Once you start controlling your News Feed you may find you are on Facebook less and enjoying it more!

Back to School with Facebook?

We use the Internet daily for information about anything and everything.  Today parents of school age children are fortunate as school districts have websites  containing a wealth of information including school calendars, homework assignments, teacher’s email addresses, as well as links to textbooks and outside resources, all of which is really good stuff.

Chances are your teen is using Facebook, and like it or not, Facebook is another online resource that is  becoming increasingly more important for students.  Group pages abound as a primary form of communication for sports teams, clubs, and study groups.   Facebook is now so mainstream that it can be a social handicap if a student is not on Facebook.   My daughter gets her scheduling changes, reminders, and information she needs to know about her school team’s activities via the team’s group page on Facebook – without it we’d be lost.   Just the other day she was offered to join a club via a group page invite.

Facebook is being used experimentally in the classroom in Amsterdam, as Timeline is a great tool for organizing history complete with images, audio, and video.  Check out the history of Magellan’s voyage   or  20th century inventions.  Although not in English you can get the idea.   It’s a great way to learn history.

For older students, needing to use Facebook may not be an issue as hopefully they’ve learned the Facebook dos and don’ts.  Parents still need to make sure their young teens and older students practice “safe Facebooking” and know how to handle their Facebook data.

Here is a good example.  My computer savvy high school sophomore was recently tagged in a photo on Facebook.  The only problem was this picture was not my daughter nor was it an appropriate photo for her Timeline.   In another instance, she was tagged in an unflattering photo which also automatically posted to her Timeline.  These situations are easily to avoid – just make sure the automatic Timeline posting setting  is off, meaning you have to approve any posts or photos before they appear on your Timeline.    Navigate to Privacy Settings, and edit your settings for Timeline and Tagging.  “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your Timeline” should be on.  This way if you are tagged, the post or photo will not appear on your Timeline, it will land in your Activity Log.

Your Timeline Activity Log will let you approve an item which will cause it to post on your Timeline, or you can dismiss the item, but it won’t remove the tag.  Your name is still associated with the item.   To remove a photo tag,  you need to click on the photo, then click on Options below the photo.  You can then remove the tag, and also request that the photo be removed from Facebook.  You can also compose a personal message that will be sent to the poster asking for removal.

Facebook does offer some safeguards for users under 18.  Their Timelines and posts do not appear in public searches.  Also only their friends, friends of friends, and networks they may belong to can view their posts.   Facebook does offer its own resources at www.facebook.com/help  where you can find links to its Safety Center and also a link to report abuse of the service.  Note that you can view this help feature even without a Facebook account.

My suggestion for parents of teens on Facebook is to learn as much as you can about Facebook, review your child’s Account and Privacy settings with them, and be their friend on Facebook so you can watch out for inappropriate posts.  My daughter may not be too happy that I know so much about Facebook, but we both know she is a bit safer because of it.

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