Sunday, January 23, 2011

Facebook Privacy for Dummies

There has been an increasing backlash in the media, among academics, and my own friends regarding the information that people disseminate on Facebook. It harkens to a social fear surrounding privacy and the over-sharing of personal information. While I will be the first to admit that social media is increasingly problematic, I think it can also be empowering to many people in a variety of ways.

On that note, I want to laugh and yell at the same time whenever I see people complaining about Facebook and, yet, they have enacted NONE of the privacy settings available to them. While nothing posted on Facebook is completely "safe" there are certain precautions you can take to limit who can view your information and profile.

MA's Guide to Privacy on Facebook:

1. In the upper right corner on Facebook, click "Account" and select "Privacy Settings" from the drop down menu.

2. Start with the first option, "Connecting on Facebook," and click on the hyperlink "Account Settings." This section allows you to control who sees the type of information you share on Facebook.

3. Select the information you want certain people to see, from the most restricted (selecting "only friends" for every option) to the most open (selecting "everyone" for every option"). My current settings allow everyone to search for me or send me messages but the rest of my information is restricted to friends only.

4. Once completed, click on the button at the top that says "Back to Privacy."

5. The "Sharing on Facebook" section contains more detailed privacy settings.

6. To edit these settings, select "Custom" from the blue side bar and then click the small, blue hyperlink that says "Custom Settings."

7. You may now go through and edit each one of the options by selecting who is allowed to view your pictures, posts, and comments, as well as who can interact with you on Facebook and how.

Stay tuned for version 2 of Facebook privacy when we will discuss how you can organize groups of friends and select which group can see what. This is an ideal function if you have Facebook friends who are co-workers, bosses, professors, parents, etc.
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