Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day Ten: Read on if You Value Your Privacy...

"Facebook Privacy Tips? What a bizarre title. If you truly want privacy DON'T use Facebook. Simple. really."

So tweeted one reader in response to's informative article, 5 Essential Facebook Privacy Tips.

We get what they mean having just read this article, and explored behind the scenes on our own Facebook (FB) accounts. Please read the above linked article and take steps to protect yourselves - and your kids - from prying eyes. It'll take you about 10 minutes all told and involves about 40 separate processes. Annoyingly, FB's default setting for everything is "everyone"... and there is no global change setting to restrict info to your "friends" only. So this is an uphill task, but persevere.

Take one example of why it's worth doing this; unless you're smarter than we are, and have already obscured your birthdate, then everyone with Internet access has access to this piece of info. By everyone we mean everyone...not just the universe of Facebook users. It's out there for all and sundry to see.

It's not that we're precious about our age but just think for a moment how frequently you use this information as the first line of security in many of your relationships with third-parties - with your online bank say, an online retailer, with your utility provider perhaps. It's one of those pieces of information, much like your email address or your zipcode, by which we identify ourselves to others.

OMG, this is beginning to sound like a bad radio ad for a credit checking agency.

We thought it was time to jump into this subject as it appears to be a political hot potato at the moment. Not only has Google been under attack for vacuuming up unprotected wifi data - this may well be an innocent mistake - but this news has been followed by fresh revelations about FB.

Apparently FB's 'partners', all commercial software companies (such as Microsoft, Google to name a few), can currently access your FB account unless you specifically close the back door to your account information. To fix this:

  • Click Account

  • Click Privacy Settings

  • Click Applications and Websites

  • Click Instant Personalization Pilot Programs

The nub of this whole privacy issue is why did FB, Google and others leave us all so exposed?

So think twice before you activate that "Location" setting on your twitter account. Why share this information? Lindsay Lohan doesn't have a choice; we do.

As of 25th May, FB issued a statement saying it was actively reviewing its privacy policy and soliciting our opinions. To learn more, sign up to their FB page.

POSTCRIPT: FB listened, changes have now been made to the privacy settings...see attached link for information

POST POSTCRIPT: FB under investigation by the House for the abuse of data.

Posted by: Claire

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