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10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know
February 12, 2009 3:37 PM   Subscribe

10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know

thank you, Schneier
posted by Afroblanco (52 comments total) 78 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought I had set most of this stuff to Only Friends, but apparently when I joined a couple of new networks, that was automagically changed to Only Friends + people in the new networks. Thanks a lot, Facebook.
posted by grouse at 3:52 PM on February 12, 2009


This, plus my new found ability to see fewer updates from individual friends, is making me a happier facebooker today. If only there was also a button that made it seem like certain people were having a rough time of it rather than just concealing the evidence of their happy and carefree existence. Like maybe their status is "Regretful" and robots are designed to post illusory insults on their wall at random. Please to make this app before Saturday, for no reason.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:56 PM on February 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'd like an app that specifically filters out all the insipid "my kid just did this totally cute thing" status updates from my breeder friends.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:58 PM on February 12, 2009 [10 favorites]


Yup-- if you don't know these settings, you really shouldn't be on Facebook.
posted by availablelight at 3:58 PM on February 12, 2009


The more people know, the harder it will be to Facebook stalk them!
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:58 PM on February 12, 2009


Is there a privacy setting that will deliver a low-voltage electric shock to people who endlessly repost those "25 random things about me" and "My senior year of high school" notes/memes? If I wanted more MySpace in my Facebook, I'd actually log into the former site more often.
posted by the_bone at 3:59 PM on February 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to figure out how to set certain privacy levels for different friend groups, and it's not happening.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:02 PM on February 12, 2009


You really only need one: Don't use Facebook.
posted by DU at 4:02 PM on February 12, 2009 [13 favorites]


Hey, thanks for that helpful suggestion, DU! We never would have figured that one out on our own.
posted by grouse at 4:05 PM on February 12, 2009


I'm pretty sure DU was on yearbook committee in HS.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:12 PM on February 12, 2009


Everyone's just not that into you.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 4:13 PM on February 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd like a set-up delivering a low-voltage shock to anyone who logs in to Facebook. Sort of a social experiment, to see who keeps coming back.
posted by mannequito at 4:15 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to figure out how to set certain privacy levels for different friend groups, and it's not happening.

This took me a while to figure out. Every article I've seen, including this one, makes it sound really simple. It's not. Every friend needs to be on a list. In privacy settings, it's either 'allow access to members of list X' or 'deny access to members of list X' for each operation.

And we just had this discussion.
posted by fixedgear at 4:20 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's the catch, isn't it. All of these restrictions seem smart... except if all of my friends started implementing them, I'd lose a lot of the value I get out of Facebook.

Really, this almost exclusively stems from the fact that people use Facebook for different tiers of relationships, and it's dangerous to combine them; also known as the "killing independent George" effect. Seems like the best solution is to use different sites for the different tiers... Facebook is good for friends, LinkedIn for your professional life, MySpace for the general public, etc etc. This is pretty hacky (and I know I don't trust each and every fly-by-night social networking site with my data), so if I were a big honcho of some sort at Facebook I'd suggest transforming the "friend group" thing into full-fledged subsites instead of trying to shoehorn them all into the same interface.
posted by Riki tiki at 4:25 PM on February 12, 2009


I somehow never noticed the Friends Lists (outside of the Limited Profile option), so thanks. I can now differentiate between an all or nothing profile.
posted by Adam_S at 4:30 PM on February 12, 2009


I mean... privacy is great and all, but kindof a pain in the ass.
posted by lunit at 4:36 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess my pie slice was too tiny: Have Little Enough Free Time As-Is, Participating In Latest Misuse Of Word "Meme" Too Stupid To Bother With
posted by DU at 4:37 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've noticed that some of my younger FB "friends", the ones in the 19-25 age-range, are totally and open and carefree about their Facebook lives. Every photo from every drunken evening is posted for everyone to see, and often these folks have 500+ friends. They also tend to post their exact birthdate, telephone numbers, addresses, email accounts, everything. It's as though privacy has ceased to exist as a concept.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:42 PM on February 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Every photo from every drunken evening is posted for everyone to see

This is more true than you know. I had a (very awesome) teacher in high school who would also call kids out for the pictures he saw on facebook. A few of them quite never got the hint.
posted by niles at 4:54 PM on February 12, 2009


It's as though privacy has ceased to exist as a concept.

We've just accepted that, as much as some may not like it, technology is forcing privacy as we know it out the door. Wait, no: technology is defriending privacy.

Anyway, in the future, there will be lots of publicly available embarrassing facts about you – but the same will go for everyone else.
posted by tepidmonkey at 4:55 PM on February 12, 2009


I use the same privacy policy on FaceBook that I do everywhere else: Assume that everyone you know will see everything that you post online.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:01 PM on February 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


Tell everyone about these, except my ex-girlfriends...
posted by evilgenius at 5:29 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


the_bone is just mad because no one's tagged him in a 25 things list.

//Makes L sign
posted by resurrexit at 5:35 PM on February 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whoa, thanks to this I just checked out their application privacy policy and was seriously upset. Apparently, by default, all those stupid applications that your friends install can crawl their friends list and see all of the information about their friends that is visible to the person installing the app. What. the. fuck.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:45 PM on February 12, 2009


technology is forcing privacy as we know it out the door.

Technology didn't get those kids drunk. Technology didn't take their pictures. Technology didn't put the pictures where the whole world could see.
posted by DU at 5:57 PM on February 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh yes it did, Technology is a bastard.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:00 PM on February 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


(Unless you consider distillation, digital cameras, or the Internet to be forms of technology, of course.)
posted by hattifattener at 6:03 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure these techniques work as well as they're supposed to. I have a special "friend list" for jerks (called "GO AWAY") that's supposed to limit their ability to see my pictures, video, ... pretty much everything except the basics. When I created a fake account to test it, I was still able to see much more than than I expected. Bottom line: if there are things you really don't want anyone except your real friends to know about, keep it off Facebook.
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:15 PM on February 12, 2009


I use the same privacy policy on FaceBook that I do everywhere else: Assume that everyone you know will see everything that you post online.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:01 PM on February 12


heh, I go as far as to say "Hi Sergey" every so often in one of my gmail chats ;p
posted by infini at 6:23 PM on February 12, 2009


FREE FACEBOOK PRIVACY E-BOOK
posted by lemonjel at 6:34 PM on February 12, 2009


If the existence of distillation, cameras and the Internet is enough, why aren't there pictures of ME drunk on the Internet?

Answer: Because I don't drink. And if I did, I wouldn't photograph myself doing so. And if I did, I wouldn't post them online.
posted by DU at 6:42 PM on February 12, 2009


Yup-- if you don't know these settings, you really shouldn't be on Facebook.

Fixed that for you!

I finalled logged in to facebook. To accept my sister's friend request since I thought it would be bad form not to. So that makes one friend. Hooray! Maybe I'll log in again in a few years.
posted by Justinian at 6:43 PM on February 12, 2009


1. Look at the settings page of a popular social networking system.
2. Write an article about what you see there, despite it being obvious to anyone who so much as glances at the settings.
3. ???
4. Profit!
posted by nightchrome at 6:46 PM on February 12, 2009


Facebook is planning to exploit the vast amount of personal information it holds on its 150 million members by creating one of the world's largest market research databases.

From the article;

"In an attempt to finally cash in on the social networking site, once valued at $US15 billion ($23.6 billion), it will soon allow multinational companies to selectively target its members in order to research the appeal of new products. Companies will be able to pose questions to specially selected members based on such intimate details as whether they are single or married and even whether they are gay or straight."

This is yet another reason (one of many) not to get or keep a Facebook account, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:47 PM on February 12, 2009


Join the group 1 million strong against Facebook privacy settings. If we get 1 million people, Facebook will have to listen to us and change their privacy settings! Really! And if we get 1 million before the end of the month, everyone will get a free ice cream cone!
posted by rand at 6:55 PM on February 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fixed that for you! FTFY! FTFY.
posted by oulipian at 6:57 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


grouse: "I thought I had set most of this stuff to Only Friends, but apparently when I joined a couple of new networks, that was automagically changed to Only Friends + people in the new networks. Thanks a lot, Facebook."

Yeah this is a huge fucking flaw in the FB security setup. The defaults for all groups is totally fucked. I created an album one time called "you shouldn't see this" then put a jpg in in with a list of names, that I tagged and gave permission to only those names to view the album. Then the comments started rolling in from people who could see the album that shouldn't have. Because when you select only allow these users, it still also by default also shows it to all networks. Why?
posted by MrBobaFett at 7:27 PM on February 12, 2009


I've noticed that some of my younger FB "friends", the ones in the 19-25 age-range, are totally and open and carefree about their Facebook lives. Every photo from every drunken evening is posted for everyone to see, and often these folks have 500+ friends. They also tend to post their exact birthdate, telephone numbers, addresses, email accounts, everything. It's as though privacy has ceased to exist as a concept.

I'm forty-some years old. And I state this as truth: there is no longer any privacy.

Unless you purchase everything with cash, communicate only face-to-face, and stay the hell out of Britain (and it's 1:5 ratio of spy cameras to citizens), you have only an illusion of privacy.

I am very near throwing in the towel and simply going balls-out stupid with my life, just like the kids do. What the hell, why not, it seems to be what's happening anyway.

I was sent on a trip for work. The flight and hotel were booked by the company. I used my personal credit card for some purchases while on the trip. My credit card company did not contact me to verify the legitimacy — something they have always done before. I suspect they were able to put two and two together, and confirmed that my name was on the ticket and that, yes, it made sense I was using my credit card at my destination. Ouch.

I hate it, but it's not stoppable.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:33 PM on February 12, 2009


I've noticed that some of my younger FB "friends", the ones in the 19-25 age-range, are totally and open and carefree about their Facebook lives. Every photo from every drunken evening is posted for everyone to see, and often these folks have 500+ friends. They also tend to post their exact birthdate, telephone numbers, addresses, email accounts, everything. It's as though privacy has ceased to exist as a concept.

The 2000 science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, The Light of Other Days, depicts a world where wormhole technology has been developed to allow everyone's entire life--past, present, and future--to be viewed remotely as if on camera (called the WormCam). Children born after the development of this technology cease to be able to comprehend the concept of privacy and lose all sense of shame and social inhibitions. They don't wear any clothes, they have sex in complete public view with total strangers, etc. With the slow but pervasive erosion of interpersonal boundaries encouraged by online social networks, the book may prove to be prescient.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:04 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love* that Facebook is so keen on privacy they need a set of pages - different pages accessed in different ways - to cover all the settings!

* not
posted by zippy at 10:40 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's as though privacy has ceased to exist as a concept.

But privacy as a concept didn't exist until the modern age ... so maybe Facebook is returning us to our prelapsarian roots?
posted by kanewai at 1:03 AM on February 13, 2009


I do not understand segregating one's friends/coworkers on a website. What exactly am I going to do there that I don't want the other group knowing about? Even if I had no coworkers on Facebook, I still wouldn't put details of my sex life on there, because 99.999% of my friends don't want to know. If I were the type to get fall-down drunk and have pictures taken of me, I have bigger problems than those photos showing up on a website. So what else is so freaking private? They already know what I look like, probably know where I live, definitely know where I work.
posted by desjardins at 6:21 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


The whole point of my facebook page is to find people I lost contact with and let them find me; to do that, I have to include my full name and where I went to school. And it's worked, really well, for that. Found people I haven't seen in decades. About as private as a want ad.

And yeah, presumably, next time I job hunt, someone could find my page easily as well.

So why would I put drunk photos on there? I put up "cute things my kid did", like a good wholesome breeder type (heh), occasional links to interesting articles, and "hey glad your husband's doing better" messages to friends. And I refuse all "Bob sends you a lil green patch!" requests, because they're stupid.

That's pretty much it. Any "controversial" stuff I wanted to say could be done via blog or Twitter. Or metafilter.
posted by emjaybee at 6:41 AM on February 13, 2009


Seconding five fresh fish and others. The technology does erode privacy even if it does so through social means. I also have an account on Facebook and its been useful, too useful, in finding old friends and allowing them to find me. I use it for connection but not for interaction.

Recently, a friend uploaded photos of me and 'tagged' them for all our mutual friends to see. I had little control over this but didn't object out of goodwill. It is one example, though, of how the technology can sort of drag you out, even against your wishes.

The threat to privacy is that such things become ubiquitous. Saying 'Well *I* don't have a problem because *I* dont have an account on Facebook!" may sound reasonable now but the problem is that -like people who once objected to using cellphones or using the Internet at all, for privacy reasons - you become more and more of an outlier.

That is, today, in a Metafilter discussion of snooping by ISPs anyone who comes along and says "I have the solution: Don't use the Internet!" will be rightly told to go off and play with a shiny toy while the rest of us discuss the much more subtle issues at hand.
posted by vacapinta at 7:31 AM on February 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Steven Rambam, a private investigator, maintains that the combination of self-contributed data and the mechanisms of business have brought about the explosion in public availability of personal data. Or as he puts it, "If you know how to use the Internet, 75% of an investigation can be conducted sitting in your pajamas."

* Privacy is dead. Get over it.
* Video part 1
* Video part 2

Disclaimer: quoted from my blog, but I'm sure you guys would have figured that out.
posted by A-Train at 7:50 AM on February 13, 2009


If you're an asshole in the 21st century, everyone knows you're an asshole. You just can't hide it anymore. And that's a good thing.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:10 AM on February 13, 2009


"In an attempt to finally cash in on the social networking site, once valued at $US15 billion ($23.6 billion), it will soon allow multinational companies to selectively target its members in order to research the appeal of new products. Companies will be able to pose questions to specially selected members based on such intimate details as whether they are single or married and even whether they are gay or straight."

Well, the ads are already targeted that way on Facebook -- I am constantly being told, as a gay man, that I might want to check out this new gay hook-up site, or, as a single man, I might want to go on this cruise that will be filled with hot babes. Both are spectacularly ineffective at getting me to click.

But actually, I don't see why this is a bad thing. That I am a single gay man isn't a terribly "intimate" detail, and it's surely something that companies already had access to. But, also, why wouldn't I want companies to be able to give me advertisements for things I might be interested in? Surely it would beat the present system, where I constantly get to find out about movies I'd never want to see and soft drinks I'd never want to taste, and instead I find out about the latest German board game I might want to play or about some interesting book on psychogeography I might want to read. How do I lose when "companies" know what sorts of products to tell me about?
posted by Casuistry at 8:11 AM on February 13, 2009


Well, the ads are already targeted that way on Facebook -- I am constantly being told, as a gay man, that I might want to check out this new gay hook-up site, or, as a single man, I might want to go on this cruise that will be filled with hot babes.

Jeez. I'm a 34 year old married woman and I get constant weight-loss ads. It's really pretty offensive. I'm already 95 lbs, for fuck's sake. (I'm also 5'0", so don't go thinking I'm an anorexic.)
posted by desjardins at 9:33 AM on February 13, 2009


The ads drove me up the wall to the point where I spent way too much time clicking "thumbs down" before I realized that did absolutely nothing. To get rid of them, just add these filters to your AdBlock:

facebook.com#*(social_ad)
facebook.com#*(sidebar_ads)
facebook.com#*(sponsors)
facebook.com#*(social_ad_advert)

I haven't seen a "muffin top" in months and I'm so glad!
posted by Locative at 9:41 AM on February 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


(under My Element Hiding Rules, that is)
posted by Locative at 9:43 AM on February 13, 2009


Here's a disclaimer I just got when replying to an out-of-network message:

If you send ______ a message, you will give him permission to view your list of friends, as well as your Basic, Work and Education info for one month.

On one hand, at least they're telling us about this at the point of no return. On the other hand, I haven't seen anywhere in the maze of privacy settings where this can be toggled on or off. Oh, and "list of friends"? Which one?

It's not a major crisis, but it shows how FB privacy settings can give you a feeling of unease: once you think you've got a handle on everything, something else pops up.
posted by gimonca at 7:50 AM on February 14, 2009


A-Train: man, that goes from being a really interesting talk into betraying homophobia, anti-Islam and a strong hint of Zionism. Distressing to get nearly two hours into something fascinating and to end up being repulsed about the speaker's hurr hurr asides.
posted by carbide at 3:17 PM on February 14, 2009


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