5 Misconceptions About Facebook Privacy


We’ve all experienced that moment of outrage when we think Facebook changed our privacy settings without our consent. Most of us want to keep some level of control over our personal details, posts, likes and dislikes, shared pictures, videos and more, and don’t take kindly to changes we perceive as throwing our sacred privacy setting balance into disarray. With this in mind, here are five myths about Facebook privacy you should know about.

Image via Shutterstock

1. Facebook is serious about protecting my privacy.

Facebook as a social network encourages you to expose as much information as possible and therefore, makes it complex to protect your privacy. Facebook provides a set of Web pages for defining privacy policy and individual settings for every item. There are 65 different settings that are altered regularly (over the last six months, there were at least two different settings changed each month). Due to the convoluted nature of the privacy settings, many Facebook users don't know how to define a policy that meets their needs.

2. Facebook apps are safe.

When you run a Facebook application, specifically a mobile application on a smartphone, you are probably not aware that you are permitting these applications to access your data, as well as your friends' data. FarmVille, for example, has shared tens of millions of Facebook app users' personal information with third-party advertisers.

Facebook applications can be developed with minimal security assurances just like any other Web-based application. Facebook does not check third-party applications for flaws, leaving it up to you to carefully select the applications you use.

3. If you delete information on Facebook, it is gone from the Web.

Once you share information with others, they or their applications may have it and keep it. Even if you delete a post, it could still be stored on a third-party site. There are applications designed to catch any information you share with your friends, so before you share, make sure you know exactly who you are sharing it with.

4. In order to protect my privacy, I need to manage my Facebook Privacy Settings and Tools.

Think again. These settings cover less than 30 percent of the actual privacy settings. When you submit a post, picture or video, you can choose who will see it. When you add any information about yourself, you should be aware that unless you limit access to it, the information can be seen by anyone. Don’t let the default settings of Facebook control your privacy, carefully make your choice for each setting.

5. Facebook or third parties will not misuse or sell my information.

Once your information is submitted to Facebook, you have minimal control over how it is used.  Facebook already uses your social profile on third-party sites, and uses your information to select the ads relevant to you. As previously mentioned, Facebook apps can also use information they collect from your account. If you want to make sure that confidential information is kept confidential, best to share it with your close friends the traditional way instead of through a social network.

Yoram Nissemboim is the founder and CEO of CallingID, a software manufacturer whose suite of solutions and value-added ISP services have been protecting millions of consumers from phishing, fraud, identity-theft and Web attacks since 2004. 

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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