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At the weekend, my friend went to a party which had been thrown by one of her boyfriend’s friends. She’d never met him before so, naturally, she wanted to make a good impression. She was therefore horrified when he mentioned that before their meeting he’d had a look at her Facebook profile.
This concerned her for several reasons:
1) She thought she’d had changed her privacy settings so that only her Facebook ‘friends’ could view her personal information – obviously not!
2) Every public thing she’s ever done on the site is now easier than ever to look through thanks to her new ‘Timeline’ profile. She’s been on the site for five years so there are bound to be posts and pictures she wouldn’t want looked at, particularly by someone she wants to impress!
3) Like most people, she doesn’t like the thought of someone she doesn’t know having access to so much of her private information.
4) She is now wondering who else has had a cheeky snoop at her account?
This made me wonder, can you really have a private life if you are on Facebook? How many people have been guilty of over-sharing and, most importantly, what can people do to make sure their private lives are just that, if they do continue to have a Facebook account?With that in mind, here are some tips for managing your privacy on Facebook:
- Take the time to understand the site’s security settings. Don’t make the mistake I made of allowing your profile to be viewed by people you haven’t expressly accepted as a ‘friend.’
- Look at your timeline – do you really want your new colleagues to see drunken New Year’s Eve pictures of you from three year’s ago? If not, remove the pictures or wall posts from your Timeline. Remember, you can comb through your past and decide what to share (as each item has the option to be edited or removed from your Timeline).
- Find out what your company’s social media policy is and stick to it.
- Only accept friend requests from people who feel comfortable sharing personal information with – ask yourself, is it wise to allow my clients or colleagues access to my profile? If in doubt, leave them out!
- Keep your friends close but limit everyone else – if you do find yourself pressured into accepting a friend request from someone you are not close to, take advantage of the site’s privacy options and limit the information they can see.
- Only put information you are happy to share onto the site – do you really want 456 people to know you are going abroad for three weeks? Is it really necessary to share your ultrasound? If you do want something kept private, don’t make it visible for all to see!
Ultimately the easiest way to avoid privacy invasions is by avoiding Facebook altogether. But then you may miss out on the latest news and party invitations from your friends. So if you do want to have a profile, the onus is on you to keep information about yourself as private as possible.