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Facebook privacy settings advice

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 21-12-2010

I was with my sister-in-law over the weekend. She works in a large high school as an assistant principal. She always has anecdotes to tell about the stresses of modern teens and the trouble they get into. Since my kids are only six and ten, most of these are just cautionary tales, but more and more, the advice is hitting closer to home. This weekend, we talked about Facebook and how much trouble kids get into on-line without being aware of it. They post sexy photos, get involved with predators, and say things they may wish they could erase in five years. Her advice to parents: Don’t let your kids have a Facebook account. Easier said than done, but good advice if you can heed it from someone cleaning up the aftermath.
At the same time, you’re worrying about your kids, you may not even realize the problems you’re creating for yourself by updating your Facebook account, and using it to enter comments and join groups as a login mechanism even when you’re not on FB.If you’ve seen the movie,
The Social Network, you know that Facebook once had a choice to be private à la MySpace, or to be completely naked on the streetcorner, as in a nudist colony where open secrets are part of the game. The market chose the Facebook model, even if no one really understood what that entailed.
Facebook has reacted with privacy changes, some of which have even weakened prior privacy settings. If you use FB, you need to know and understand how much of what everyone in and outside of your circle of friends can see. If you only have your spouse, a few relatives and a few close friends on Facebook, it probably doesn’t matter at all if they see you’ve just commented on someone’s political post on their FB page. However, if work colleagues or prospective employers are among your “friends,” you probably want to be more circumspect. Even if everyone knows you play Farmville, do you want all these people to see every time you buy a cow? Do you want everyone to see each time you’re tagged on a photo? The list goes on.
In looking up how to solve this type of problem, I stumbled on a very good video by Nick O’Neill on his very good AllFaceBook.com website, and was prepared to share it here, but it is already out of date. The comments stream (almost 300) chronicled growing frustration with Facebook and a feeling that it is morphing without anyone understanding how their privacy will be affected. I doubt any of us wants to find out tomorrow morning that everything we’ve done online over the past 24 hours has been showing up in our news feed to friends, as well as anyone who did a Google search on our names. Yet, that’s where Facebook seems to be heading with the goal of providing an ever more rich social experience.
Just as in cameras introduced into our computers to film our every move, we have now invited Facebook to keep track of us. If Big Brother is out there, we’ve probably already installed him as a piece of software.