Who and What are the keys to Facebook security with Timeline. How do you work with Whos and Whats to share information but protect yourself from harm?
- WHO. Your first line of defense is who you share your information with. Check your privacy settings – if you are sharing something with Everyone, Global, or Public, then you are saying that information is available to any of the other 800 million Facebook users on Earth, which is 1 of every 13 people on the planet. Then, think carefully about who you accept as friends. If you need to accept certain people as friends for business reasons but are uncomfortable sharing your information with them, then put them on a restricted status. Another new option for Facebook friends is to put someone in the acquaintance group. Then set your privacy settings to restrict what acquaintances can see. Be sure to do the same with your photo albums. Check your privacy settings every month to make sure they reflect the privacy level you prefer. If you tag people in a photo, are tagged in a photo, or tag or are tagged in a Facebook status, then that photo or information is then available to the friends of everyone who was tagged. If you’re uncomfortable with that, then untag yourself. Basic rule: Sharing means sharing – if you don’t share information with someone, that person can’t use it against you.
- WHAT. There is no rule that says you must share everything on Facebook. In the questions in the about section, you don’t have to answer all the questions. Choose carefully what you share. If you don’t share it, it’s less likely to be made public. If you have certain information you use in making password selections, don’t share that information on Facebook. Review your old posts and information. If you don’t want them easily accessible, delete them. Yes, right now you have to delete them one at a time – just like you posted them one at a time over time.
Finally, we need to understand what Subscribe means. Today I’ve seen Facebook posts asking friends to unsubscribe from their feed. If you unsubscribe from someone’s newsfeed, all that means is that person’s status updates will no longer show in your Facebook news feed. If you ask your friends to unsubscribe from your news feed, you are simply asking them to no longer see your status updates in THEIR news feeds. I have not yet discovered a way this reduces the risks of others hacking into your Facebook page. If someone unsubscribes to your news feed, that person can still access your Facebook page.
The only way I can see unsubscribing increasing security is with mobile devices. If I lose my phone and someone steals it, the thief could look at my news feed and glean information. If you are unsubscribed, the thief would not see your information in my news feed. However, an enterprising thief could still go through my friends on my phone and glean information one at a time.
My caution with the lists of friends is to be careful what you post in the first place. Someone may be placed in the wrong group. You may share your information with the wrong set of friends. The former Congressman Weiner learned last year what happens when you confuse private postings in social media with public ones.
My blog How to Lock Down Your Facebook Privacy Settings will take you step by step through protecting your Facebook privacy.
Bottom line: be careful who your friends are and what you share. It’s the same on Facebook as it is in real life. There is no quick one click fix to social security – on Facebook or real life. Just think before you share.