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!

 

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.

Facebook Timeline Tips

Don’t be intimidated by Timeline it is not that scary – here are a few tips to help you get started.

The latest version of the Facebook Profile is called Timeline.  All Facebook Profiles will be converted to Timeline, there is no escape.  You can wait until Facebook converts you or go to the Introducing Timeline page (www.facebook.com/about/timeline) and choose to upgrade by clicking Get Timeline.   Facebook will allow you 7 days to preview and modify your Timeline prior to publishing it.  During this time, your Facebook Friends will see your old Profile.

Timeline is a reformatted Profile that allows you to easily go back in time to see past posts.  It has all the same elements of the old Profile with a few additional features.

There is now a predominant Cover Photo which is larger than your Profile Picture.  Adding a Cover Photo is optional, although it does make your Timeline more attractive.

Activity Log is a new Timeline feature that allows you to edit the activity entries on your Timeline (likes, comments, tags) and review pending posts (if you have enabled Timeline Review for photo tags in your Privacy Settings).

About and Update Info takes you to the same page and allows you to edit your Facebook information (similar to the former Edit Profile).  All of your former Profile information is now contained in About, it is formatted differently but you can easily modify your share options for individual items.

When you scroll down your Timeline, a box appears along the top left of the page that allows you to easily move to different time periods on your Timeline.  This Timeline display replaces the former Wall.  If you hover over an item a star and a pencil pop up in the upper right margin of the post.  The star is a toggle that allows you to resize the post.  The pencil allows you to hide the item from your Timeline, delete the item, and other options depending upon the type of post.

Click on Activity Log (just beneath your Cover Photo), to edit the activity entries on your Timeline, and approve pending posts.  Click on the small circle to the right of the item to display edit options.

You can also change share options for an activity item by clicking on the share options drop down in the right margin of the item.

For additional help with Activity Log, Facebook’s help feature does a good job explaining it – visit www.facebook.com/help/activitylog.  Also, if you type “timeline” on Facebook Help (drop down arrow next to Home) you should be able to find answers to your questions.

The good news is that your News Feed does not change when you convert to Timeline – there you are still on familiar territory!


 

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