Facebook Gets Low Scores from Customers on Privacy; How to Protect Yourself

facebooknewsprivacyIf you have people in your life who like you, you may be better off than social media giant, Facebook. Consumers recently reported that they like Facebook about as much as the cable company, airlines and the IRS*.  One major cause for customer concern is privacy. Here’s how to better protect your personal and family Facebook privacy.
We all live within vast social networks with interactions at work, clubs, neighbors, PTA, parties, business conferences and others. There is, however, something that separates social networking on Facebook from social networking offline: privacy.

Protecting Your Privacy  - Privacy News and Facebook Account Changes

Real World vs Facebook World

You would never walk into a dinner party or work event with a label on your head detailing your relationship status, political and religious beliefs, date of birth and sexual orientation. I doubt that you would carry an open photo album with hundreds of photos from the many other dinner parties you have attended, some of which may not have ended as glamorously as you had hoped.

Yet this is no exaggeration of exactly what the majority of people do on Facebook.
It gets worse. The likelihood is that you would know the majority of people attending the same dinner party, or at least have some connection to them. Depending on your Facebook privacy settings, people you have never heard of could be accessing your private information at their leisure.

How to Protect Privacy and Family – Basic  Steps

accountfacebookThe first step is to review your Facebook privacy settings. Then select 'Privacy settings' from the submenu that appears. You will then be shown a display of your existing settings, detailing who can view which parts of your profile. If you click 'Customize settings' you will be able to change these options, which variously dictate who can view your status, photos and posts, biography and favorite quotations, family and relationships, photos and videos in which you are tagged, religious and political views, birthday and contact information. It also allows you to decide who can comment on your posts.

Unless you are primarily interested in meeting new people on Facebook, I would recommend changing the privacysettingfacebookstep2majority of your settings to 'Friends only', or 'Friends of Friends' at the very least.

The 'Friends only' setting means that only your current Facebook friends will be able to view that part of your profile, while the 'Friends of Friends' setting means that both your friends and your friends' friends will be able to see it. If your teen hasn’t secured their privacy in this manner; you should correct their privacy settings.

Use Facebook Lists Feature to Separate Friends and Acquaintances – Intermediate Privacy

Privacy topics - Make choices with lists, advertisers, and protecting you profile in Facebook search.

Setting Up Lists - Intermediate Privacy on Facebook  With your basic privacy better handled, there may be more you can do. For instance, at a real-world dinner or birthday party there may be a number of people in attendance that you consider to be your friends, however, some will be closer to you than others. The same is clearly true online, such that you may feel comfortable sharing all aspects of your profile with your inner circle of friends but not with all of them. Facebook does, in fact, facilitate this level of privacy control by allowing you to group your friends into lists

Lists that might prove useful include a close family list (for siblings and parents), an extended family list , an inner circle list (for trusted friends), a colleagues list and a list of business contacts.

Once you have created a list it will appear under the 'friends' tab on the sidebar, vertical navigation menu. Below you can see that I have added a 'Business' list in order to organize my friends.
If you do choose to use “Lists”, you can further choose what access to your profile information you will allow. Go to the privacy settings page, choose the setting you want to change and click the 'Customize' option. Then to add a list select 'Specific people…' from the drop down menu and rather than entering the name of an individual friend, simply enter the name of the list you want to be able to view that specific portion of your profile. Conversely, you could enter a list of people that you do not want to have access to that part of your profileinformation.

Searching for Your Name and Facebook Profile

For someone to view your account information on Facebook they first need to find your profile. This can be achieved via the website's search facility. This search facility is increasingly used by employers to check the profiles of potential employees before making the decision of whether to hire them.  Surveys report that the trending of checking your “social media” persona has steadily increased over the last five years by human resource professionals and others.  It is an extreme course of action, however, it is possible to remove yourself from Facebook search results. Go to the privacy settings page, and select the option to view your basic directory information settings.


Friends only search option: Then change your options such that only existing friends can search for you on Facebook.

Impact: Do keep in mind that this will make it almost impossible for new friends to find and add you on Facebook. So, perhaps change the setting to 'Friends of friends' if you are still looking to expand your social network online.

Applications are searching your, too.

You could be forgiven for thinking that was all there was to protecting your privacy on Facebook. However, it is not just people that can access your information on internet social networks. A

growing number of Facebook applications access your personal information in order to perform their function. To decide what level of access you want to give these applications, go to the

'Application settings' section of the Accounts menu option. The settings can then be altered in the same way as outlined above.

Privacy Protection Tool – Reclaim Privacy.org  If all this seems like a lot of trouble to go to, then you're in luck. There is an intuitive tool that you might find simpler to use for a Facebook privacy check up.

Visit ReclaimPrivacy.org and the wizard software will help you on your way to Facebook privacy. It takes you step by step through your Facebook privacy settings and advises you on how to make them more secure. However, even after using the tool it is still worth following the steps outlined above to double-check your privacy settings manually. 

About Facebook Advertisers and Your Privacy

Facebook also gives advertisers a certain level of access to your information, allowing them to display your social networking actions on their adverts, to encourage your friends to act similarly.


To prevent this from happening, simply go to 'Account settings'  and next go to the Facebook adverts page and change the 'Only my friends' setting to 'No one'.  Remember that any privacy choice can impose limits on you, too.  It is worth noting that different levels of privacy will suit different people. Not everyone will feel the need to hide away, and few people would feel comfortable leaving their profile open to everyone.

I believe the privacy choice should be yours, not a social networks’.  You want to make  informed decisions and avoid  accidentally telling strangers  things that you don't want them to know. Newly armed with these privacy tips, you can continue online social networking with a level of openness or privacy that matches your comfort level.

Tell your friends and family what you learned here.  Share on Facebook, Twitter and your other social choices. But first, please check your privacy settings.

About : Margaret Ross 

Margaret Ross, expert author and trainer is the editor Kamaron Institute's Positive Impact Blog.

*2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI). This is first time ASCI has included social networks.  Facebook’s score of 63 puts it in bottom 5 percent of all measured private sector companies. Survey reported IRS had higher score than Facebook.

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