How to Avoid Facebook “Bad Stuff”

Perhaps you’ve received Facebook spam?   A post appears in your News Feed which seems a bit peculiar.  Perhaps it is a promise of a free iPad, or the promise of finding out who’s looking at your Profile.   Or maybe it is just that your friend likes a link, perhaps it is a video.  Perhaps your intuition tells you, the post is unlike the person you know.  Trust your intuition, and resist the temptation to click on a too good to be true, suspicious, or out of character link.   The linked to page may have a hidden Like button, and when you click anywhere on the new page, you have unknowingly reposted the spam.   Known as clickjacking, you have just sent a like of this link to all of your friends, and propagated this spam!

I have been using Facebook trouble free for almost 5 years now.  I believe the primary reason  I am trouble free, aside from  being careful about the links I click, is that I have all applications turned off on Facebook.  I don’t use any games, or Facebook plug-ins for the simple reason that I am not comfortable with allowing any application or website access to any of my data on Facebook.   With my applications turned off, I can’t participate in social games so I don’t farm in FarmVille or play Scrabble.  I can’t interface with any other website, like Twitter or CNN.  However, I can copy and paste a URL into a post without having to use a Recommend button (or other Facebook plug-in device).

When you elect to use an application, game, or web interface to Facebook, you receive a Request for Permissions pop-up, which asks for permissions to access your account data.  In haste we may click allow, without realizing the access we are granting.   Past Facebook security breaches have been tied to a few not so nice applications that contrary to Facebook policy, shared user data with advertisers or other companies.  I believe Facebook is diligent and serious regarding safeguarding user privacy.  Facebook immediately takes action over violations, and looks for solutions to prevent future incidences.   However it is up to the individual Facebook account holder to control their own privacy settings and understand the permissions that they grant!   It is a good idea to check up on which applications, games, and/or websites have access to your data.

Here is how to see what applications, games, and websites you are using with Facebook – you may be surprised.  Click on Account, Privacy Settings, and Edit your settings within ”Apps and Websites” (bottom left).  There are two ways to view your apps from ”Apps you use”.

If you click on Edit Settings within “Apps you use”, it lists your apps, and when they were last used.  Click on Edit Settings next to each app to see what each can access – you may again be surprised.  Some access can be removed, some access is mandatory for the app to work.  You can click on See details from “Last data access” to see what data of yours the app has used.  You can also remove the app from this screen.

Click on the button Back to App Privacy (upper left).   Notice that “Apps you use” has a toggle to turn on or turn off applications.  You can easily remove one or all of your apps, just click on turn off all platform apps.  If you click on this, you receive a list of apps you are using and can select all or individual apps to remove.  If you turn off all applications, life is much simpler as this will automatically disable the next three options. “Info accessible through your friends”, “Game and app activity”, and “Instant personalization”.  Isn’t that sweet?

If you have all your apps turned off within “Apps you use”, the toggle will read  turn on platform apps.  You won’t be able to breed sheep in FarmVille, but you have proactively protected your Facebook data.


Five Basic Facebook Tips

Use Facebook a bit more privately and wisely with these five Facebook tips.

1.  You Can Access Facebook Business Pages even if you don’t have a Facebook Account.  If you are interested in checking out a company or organization’s Facebook page, simply use a search engine and type in the name of the company or organization followed by Facebook.  Chances are that you will find a listing for their Facebook page.  Alternatively if you know their Facebook username e.g.,”username you can directly access their page by typing this into your web browser.  Why do you want to check out a Facebook business page?  You may find events, discounts, special offers, promotions, or news about a company’s products.  You will also find a link to the company’s website on the Info tab if you are looking for additional information.  Many local towns, libraries, restaurants, the news media, and small businesses have Facebook business pages.  Check them out and you may be pleasantly surprised!

2.  You Can Keep A Low Profile on FacebookYou do not have to post a profile picture or post abundant personal information on Facebook. The only information required on Facebook is your sign up information – name, email, gender, birth date, and account password for log in.  Once you have an account your birth date can be hidden by going to Profile, Edit Profile, and selecting “Don’t show my birthday in my profile” or “Show only month & day in my profile” from the drop down under your birth date.

3.  Review Your Privacy Settings Monthly.  As Facebook makes enhancements to features it may also enhance privacy setting options.  Facebook also defaults to opting in rather than opting out.  Be sure there are no new features that you are opted into.  Become a fan of Facebook and Privacy ( to get the latest updates from Facebook on privacy topics, and watch the Facebook privacy videos on that page to learn more about privacy settings.

4.  Hide from Search Engines.  To optimize privacy, make sure that your Facebook profile will not be found by search engines.  Click on Account, Privacy Settings, and Edit your settings from Apps and Websites.   Then click on Edit Settings from Public search.  Facebook will default to “Enable public search” (the box will have a check mark).  Just click on the check mark next to “Disable public search”.  To see how your profile preview would look on a search engine, click on See preview.

5.  Top News vs. Most Recent.  Your News Feed will default to Top News.  This is based upon a Facebook algorithm, and is a subset of your complete News Feed.  Click on Most Recent to see all your News Feed items.  Click on the drop down next to Most Recent for additional News Feed filtering options one of which is Edit Options.  Click on this so that you can filter your News Feed to show posts by “Friends and pages you interact with the most” or “All of your friends and pages”.  If you have been missing posts, it could be because of this setting!



Is Your Facebook News Feed Getting Messy?

Wow you’ve got so many friends on Facebook, you’ve added interests, and have become a Fan of many businesses, and now you are checking Facebook many times a day just to keep track of it all? 

Well, there is an easy way to manage your News Feed.   When you are on your News Feed, click on Most Recent to view your latest updates.    Most Recent is a News Feed filter.  Notice there is a drop down menu so you can filter your News Feed by various other criteria.  Whichever filter you choose will display next to Top News.  Most Recent is the default filter.  Friends Lists are very useful for filtering your  News Feed.

If you haven’t already, create Friends Lists such as Family, Work, Book Club, etc. and place your friends in one of these lists.  Then you can filter your News Feed and easily see updates from any list.  Create a Friends List by going to Account, Edit Friends, Create a List.  You enter a name for your list, select those friends and/or pages for the list, click on create, and you’ve got yourself a list!  You will now see this list name in your News Feed filter drop down menu.

Here’s another tip.  Edit options from your News Feed filter will bring up an Edit Your News Feed Settings pop up which allows you to choose to see all of your friends and pages or only those you interact with the most.  If you have been missing postings this setting could be the reason.    Edit options also shows you which friends, applications, and business pages have hidden posts, and you can enable them here if you like.  Remember you can hide an individual post or hide all postings from an individual or page by moving your mouse to the right margin of the post until the X appears.  Clicking on the X provides the hide options.

Do you have a Facebook question?  Please leave a comment if you have a question or a suggestion for a future topic!

Using Facebook Without a Facebook Account


You are watching TV and the program you are watching is encouraging you to check out their Facebook page, or become a fan of their page.   You turn off the TV and turn on the radio, and no matter which station you turn to, sooner or later you are asked to like their Facebook page.    

You see the Facebook logo, that white F on the blue background everywhere.   It’s all over print media advertising (check your junk mail), on websites, in stores, and yes sometimes even at the end of television commercials.    If you are a Facebook holdout, you may be wondering what this is all about.  

In addition to advertising, Facebook is in the news almost daily.  Sometimes there is a news story about the latest Mark Zuckerberg endeavor, new Facebook feature, or at least a human interest story, sometimes a happy one but not always.  Like it or not, for better or worse, Facebook has seeped into our culture.  

Facebook is now the most visited website in the US, surpassing Google.  A recent statistic from Arbitron and Edison research claims that 51% of the US population age 12 and over is on Facebook (despite Facebook’s age requirement of 13). Some people are addicted to it, yet many of us (49%) don’t have a Facebook account, and don’t want or feel the need for one.  Perhaps non Facebook users are curious, but have concerns regarding privacy, so they stay away.

If you are one of those Facebook holdouts, perhaps you should give in to your  curiosity, because you may be missing out on a valuable online tool, namely Facebook no account necessary, thank you.  Facebook business pages can be accessed like any other website.  For example,”company name”.   (Actually you don’t need the “www”,  just works.)  Try going to your favorite search engine and entering the company or local business of your choice followed by Facebook and you will most likely find a link to that company’s Facebook business page.  Click on their Facebook link and there you go, you’ve just landed on the Facebook page for that business, without having signed into Facebook.   What may surprise you is the number of fans of the page (Facebook users who have clicked on the Like button). 

Why bother?    Why if you are happily not using Facebook should you check this out?  First, it may be easier to find information you are looking for on Facebook because the Facebook page format is standardized.  Every business page has at least a Wall and Info tab, additionally there may be Photos, Videos, Events, and Notes tabs.  (Think of a tab as a menu choice.) The Info tab is a template, so information I am looking for is always in the same place on each business page I visit.   If I need a phone number I know I will find it in the Info tab, toward the midddle of the page.  When I need to know a phone number or hours or events for my town, I head straight to the town’s Facebook page because I know where to find the information  immediately without hunting the town website.  If I do want to venture to the town website I can just click on the website link provided in the Info tab – so easy.   Second, you may be missing out on local events, programs, specials, or discounts that are being advertised via a Facebook Wall posting or Event posting.  Third, many local businesses may not have a costly website, but they might have a Facebook page because it is free.  How nice to find out store hours or event details without having to make a phone call! 

Now that you know a bit about Facebook business pages, next time you are on a website and see that white F on the blue background, click on it – it will bring you to that company’s Facebook page.

Having a profile on Facebook is a personal choice.  For those who choose not to become friends or fans in the Facebook fashion, know that you do not have to ban yourself from Facebook!  You can’t access personal profiles, but you can see the same events, wall postings, and information that Facebook users see on business pages.  You can’t get automatic updates from a business page as fan can, however you can bookmark (save as a favorite)  your pages of interest and easily check them out with just a click.  Hey, even if you do use Facebook, you can bookmark your favorite business pages and check them out without having to login.

Do you have a Facebook question?  













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