Facebook privacy settings have shifted for the umpteenth time. No big surprise. But many users are currently scrambling for the “dislike” button. They’re concerned that the network is compromising their safety to compete with other search engines and social sites.
If you’re a Facebook user who doesn’t have time to keep up with the frequent changes, we can help (here’s a perfect place to start).
We track all of the network’s privacy issues and report the details that affect your life. You may be wondering, “Who can see my friends on Facebook,” or, “Who can see my Facebook profile”?
While we can’t answer all of your questions in one article, below you’ll learn how the policies have changed, why those updates matter to your teens and you and how to protect your privacy (PDF) from fading fast.
Until recently, you could hide your profile and make yourself unsearchable by enabling the ‘Who can look up your timeline by name?’ setting. Facebook stealthily removed this feature, now making it impossible for users to remain hidden.
(The sunnier side of things: You still have control over who sees your posts (e.g., friends or public or networks). And, random interlopers won’t be able to add you as a friend.)
Many people feel they have the right to by deciding who can find their Facebook profiles through search. Any person that hasn’t been specifically blocked can now view once-private data like your name, pic and gender.
Users are voicing concerns around unwanted messaging, network trolling and stalking. They’re worried that Facebook’s “open-directory” stance will compromise their safety and experiences on the social network.
And privacy campaigners are accusing Facebook of peeling away identity-protection features to purposely expose user data. It all points to their bottom line: to emerge as the search engine giant-killer that beats out Yahoo, Google and Bing (or Yahoogling if you’re one for brevity).
Previously, children under the age of 18 could only share content with their friends or friends of friends.
Now the social network is letting 13- to 17-year-olds post images, videos and status updates to the public. Those teens will also have the option of turning on the Follow feature for their profiles, allowing their posts to populate non-friends’ News Feeds.
Hoping to buffer the creep factor, the social network will send a reminder to young people each time they choose to post publicly. The warning states that anyone will be able to see their content, and that they and the friends they tag in their posts could receive messages and friend requests from strangers.
Going forward, all new 13- to 17-year-old users will be given stricter default settings that only allow them to post to friends. They’ll have to manually change those settings if they want to post publicly.
Facebook has removed under-18 posting restrictions in a bid to outcompete rival social sites like Twitter, Instagram and Tumbler. The more data made available from the teen demographic, the more advertising dollars the network pocket.
However, Facebook states that they’re motivated to make the site more fun for the teens and give them a broader audience when raising awareness around causes and important issues.
Adults are expressing one behemoth-sized concern: Predators, agitators and companies will be able to gather data on teens for their own questionable advancements.
Predators will have the ability to monitor teens’ preferences, activities and whereabouts through their public posts. They’ll be able to slyly gather details that give them an ‘in’ if they reach out and message those victims.
Should a teen make the mistake of oversharing emotional thoughts or risqué content publicly, they’ll have to deal with a much bigger and disproportionately unkind pool of Facebook hecklers. Agitators, like cyberbullies and trolls, will muster their keyboard ‘courage’ to send hurtful messages and rouse haters.
And you can be sure that companies will track every move these young people make. Marketers and advertisers will mine teens’ status updates for data gold to better inform targeted advertising campaigns.
You could create a friends list and only post content to that group (this means that you’ll have to change your status update default from ‘public’).
Or, you could take steps to individually block every stranger on Facebook. But that’ll take some commitment considering the social network’s global reach is a billion-plus...
If you want tighter identity protection and more control over your Facebook privacy settings, then it’s time for you and your teens to download Trend Micro’s free Android app: Privacy Scanner for Facebook.
Privacy Scanner is the only tool available that grants you control over who can contact you and access your personal information through Facebook.
You’ll finally be able to scan and identify risky Facebook settings. And, you’ll receive settings recommendations that will eliminate the uncertainty you feel around the state of your privacy.
Looking for advanced privacy protection across all of your devices? Check out Trend Mirco Maximum Security – it sniffs out malicious links, making you phish-proof on social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Try before you buy, here.