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It seems there isn’t a day that goes by without Facebook privacy being in the news. Recently, in January, the social network completely redesigned its ‘Privacy Basics’ page in an effort to help you better understand what data you’re sharing, with who, and how you can manage these permissions.
With more of our lives going online, and especially on Facebook, it’s more important than ever to have control over who sees what. Facebook has made several changes to its privacy settings over its lifetime, so it’s worth checking up to see if you’re still only giving the people you want your private information and photos.
The revamped Privacy Basics was announced by Facebook in a blog post, with the company saying the overhaul was intended to coincide with Data Privacy Day, which takes place annually on January 28 and Wikipedia amusingly refers to as an “international holiday”. The site has always had a love-hate relationship with privacy: it’s long offered some of the most granular controls of any social network for choosing who sees what content, letting users make posts visible on a sliding scale from “everyone” to “only me”.
It’s important to understand right off the bat that it’s in Facebook’s best interests if everything you post and every image you upload remains visible to as many of your friends as possible. Therefore, the default settings on everyone’s profile are the settings that facilitate open sharing among friends. This isn’t a bad thing for many users, but you may not feel comfortable with everything you post being as accessible as Facebook would like.
The Default Facebook Privacy Settings
There’s nothing especially magical about the new-look Privacy Basics, just a cleaner, more mobile-friendly layout. It features 32 interactive guides in 44 different languages and is designed to help users easily audit the Facebook privacy settings on their account. So it’s perhaps unsurprising to find that gradually, the highest tier of privacy settings have been removed by Facebook.
You can still hide individual posts, but your Facebook account itself is now public, whether you like it or not. I’m one of those people who say they aren’t on Facebook – the 21st Century equivalent saying you don’t have a TV. In fact, I am on Facebook, but with an account with zero friends and privacy settings ramped up to the max in every way allowable.
Updates On Facebook Privacy Change
Last October, which all Facebook privacy change happened. Facebook rolled out an update to its internal search engine, letting users search the entire network for the first time. All public posts became searchable for everyone, but private posts weren’t affected. When it made the change, though, the social network also removed a privacy setting entirely: it’s now not possible to choose to hide your profile from strangers.
What Are The Facebook Privacy Issues?
One Facebook privacy issue is that it had been using location to suggest friends. The social network even admitted to doing so, claiming to combine that data with other factors, such as work and education information or mutual friends, to offer up people a user might want to connect with.
Not long after, however, Facebook denied it was using location data, only to backtrack for a second time, admitting it had carried out a test on an unspecified number of users for four weeks at the end of last year. So it’s perhaps unsurprising to find that gradually, the highest tier of privacy settings have been removed by Facebook. You can still hide individual posts, but your Facebook account itself is now public, whether you like it or not.
What Are The Recommended Facebook Privacy Settings?
Here are our recommended Facebook privacy settings, so you can rest assured others only see what you want them to see:
- Public Pictures – Your profile picture and cover photo are public by default, and this setting can’t be changed. If this concerns you, then don’t use a personal photograph. Also, be sure to use sharing controls for your photos and albums.
- Be Careful What You Post – once you post something online it can potentially come back to haunt you. Use the built-in sharing controls for status updates and other posts to limit access to the intended audience.
- Be Careful What You Click – Even if all of your controls are set properly, clicking malicious links and installing malware can not only wreck your computer system, but it can affect your privacy and online safety as well.
- Log Out of Facebook – Facebook has been known to track user activity on other websites, so log out when you are not using Facebook. Also, staying logged in can make it easier for your account to be hacked if you log in from shared computers.
- Anti-virus Software – Install a reputable security software application and keep it updated.
- Facebook Help Center – Be sure to check this valuable resource for more information on any of the topics discussed in this post.