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The truth behind Facebook and your privacy; it’s you, not them.

Facebook Privacy LockFacebook is the largest social network, if not the biggest site overall, and privacy is a big concern.

Privacy is not just up to Facebook however, you are in control of your Facebook privacy and you are also the biggest security hole.

First, the golden rule of the internet: If you don’t want people knowing something about you, don’t put it on the internet.

Seems that people often forget about this. Don’t put your phone number on Facebook if you don’t want people having it, don’t share pictures you don’t want others to see, and don’t say things that you’ll regret in the future. Should be simple right?

Now, every few months, someone is complaining about his or her privacy on Facebook. I often see people posting things on their wall about do this or do that and protect our privacy. Sadly, these are misguided.

Here is an example:

Change your Facebook settings so the public can’t see my status updates and photos.

My Facebook friends: With the recent changes in FB, the “public” can now see activities in any wall. This happens when our friend hits “like” or “comment” … automatically, anyone with… a FB account would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it this way. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (DO NOT CLICK), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS” (also without clicking), then down to “Settings”, click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on “COMMENTS & LIKE” and also “PHOTOS”. By doing this, my activity among my friends and family will no longer be available to the general public. Please copy and paste this on your wall. Once I see this posted on your page, I will do the same for you.

The truth is that you set who sees your content and what they can do with it via the Audience Selector.

audience selector

If you share something with “Friends of Friends” (which I believe is the default Facebook setting hidden under Custom) then friends of your friends can see your stuff when one of your friends like it, comments on it, or share it.

If you want to lock it down to just your friends, then change the permission to “Friends.” And whatever you do, make sure you’re not posting things to the “Public” if you don’t want everyone to see it.

The Audience Selector shows anytime you share something on Facebook. Here is Facebook’s help page with a bit more information.

The Audience Selector also shows when an application asks you to install it. If you want to install the app, but you don’t want it to write to your wall, change the Audience Selector to “Only Me.” Now the app will work fine and your friends won’t see notifications.

You can also select groups of friends to share things with by setting up lists and selecting that list in the Audience Selector. This works great if you want to share something with just your family or just your college buddies. The downside is you need to setup and maintain those lists.

Thinking that Facebook is responsible for your privacy is just wrong. Yes, they have some of the responsibility, but privacy on Facebook is up to the user. Don’t share what you don’t want others to see and most of your problems will go way.

If you want to ensure that your information is completely safe, then delete your Facebook account. The truth is you voluntarily signed up for Facebook, you’re willingly sharing all your personal details, and you are entrusting it all to a service you don’t pay for. A service that has to make money to survive, that will constantly change, and one that has no customer service or support for you to call.

If you don’t trust Facebook, then why do you use them? By having an account, you agree to the good times and bad. Enjoy!

Even though this is written for Facebook, the core of this article holds true for any site on the internet.

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