/ Technology

Do you change your Facebook privacy settings?

Finger print on computer chip

Social networking websites have become destinations for us to share our lives with friends, but it appears many of us aren’t aware of how much we’re sending out to the rest of world.

The more we upload our personal lives onto social networks, the more we should be aware of what we’re making public.

Sure, it’s the risk we take for putting ourselves online – but many of us think this info is private when, in fact, many internet users might have access.

Facebook has gradually opened up our data to public eyes. Originally viewable by just our ‘friends’, now the scales have rebalanced and much of our personal data is viewable by every man and his dog (they can use iPads don’t you know) by default.

Following criticism, Facebook put all its privacy settings on one page – supposedly making it easier to choose who we want to see our info. But it looks like quite a few us still haven’t discovered these settings.

Do you use Facebook’s privacy settings?

One in five users haven’t touched social networking site’s privacy settings, and one in ten don’t even know they exist, according to a survey by Equifax. Almost half of us don’t regularly review our settings – with the constant changes Facebook makes to them, it’s a tad important.

Last week a file made up from 100 million Facebook users‘ publicly available data made its way onto the net. A number of sites jumped on this apparent breach of security but, in reality, the data didn’t go much further than names. It was, in short, just a very large online phone book, but without addresses or phone numbers.

Although that was all a bit of fuss about nothing, it did show that if you haven’t checked your privacy settings, data you once thought was private could easily be trawled from Facebook and shared all over the shop.

What do you share with your ‘friends’?

Then there’s the data you share with your Facebook ‘friends’ – and admit it, I bet you’ve met some of them just once, if at all. Most of us share our date of birth, personal email address and even our mobile numbers with these friends, which is all data that could be used to commit identity fraud.

In the end, it’s important to check what you’re making available to both your friends and strangers. Frustratingly we’re only given privacy if we ask for it – a bone of contention in itself – so it’s best to make sure that you track down Facebook’s well-hidden privacy settings (top right corner, under account settings) and check what you’re sharing with the world.

dave glinka says:
3 August 2010

Facebook and all sites like it are of no interest to me. I find I have enough real friends whom I would rather talk to face to face. If I was inclined to use such a site I would be very wary of the privacy settings. Information should aslo be totally removed from all servers when an individual user removes it from view.

Kevin O'ROURKE says:
4 August 2010

Four months ago I started a role working in Schools. I am not a Facebook user, but just from dealing with students from 10 years up wards in Secondary Schools, I am finding how shocking Facebook is.
I am finding that parents are lying about their childrens ages just to get them on Facebook.
That there is so much Bullying and Harassment happening on Facebook which I am picking up at student clinics I run at Secondary schools.
On the other side, I am coming across a large number of parents of students who are so shocked and scared of what they are finding on Facebook and are seeking help. But there does not seem to be the help out there.
I believe Facebook should do more to help parents of students concerned about what is going on on FACEBOOK.
When I speak to students and ask how many friends they have they seem to be proud that they have between 150 – 300. They seem to be proud of this and do not see who really are there friends.That they do not seem to care about privacy settings.
I see there could be an issue here with child sex offenders getting easy access to students.

Sabine Price says:
5 August 2010

I have seen the privacy settings on Facebook, but I do not know what the view looks like after I have made the access changes. It would help if a ‘preview’ could be given.

I think the whole Facebook situation is getting absurd. When I use it, I usually look at my ‘friend’s’ pages to see what is going on in their lives, it is rarely earth shattering. It is useful to follow one of my daughter’s as she lives in the US and so I can see what she is doing, and also what is happening in her extended family. So that is a real benefit. I do not have young children anymore, so am spared the fear of inappropriateness.