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Protecting Yourself From Facebook's Ever-Evolving Privacy Changes

Much has been written lately about Facebook's changes to their privacy policy (see an overview of the changes from Wired Magazine).  While many people are frightened by the seemingly constant changes to what information Facebook is making publicly available, there are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Make sure you check your privacy settings in Facebook on a regular basis to make sure that only the information you want to share is being made available.   Take the time to go through each section of the privacy settings and make sure you are sharing only what you want with the audience you have selected.

  2. Check what information your friends can share about you when using applications and websites.  Without reviewing these settings, you could be allowing friends using the third party facebook applications to inadvertently expose your personal information to the world.

  3. If you don't want to participate in Facebook's pilot personalization program, tying your Facebook profile to sites like CNN, Yelp, and Pandora, make sure you uncheck "Allow select partners to instantly personalize their features with my public information when I first arrive on their websites." under privacy
  4. what personal information anyone can see about you on facebook.  After reviewing your public profile, they will provide an overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest)  to let you know how secure your personal information is.   Interestingly, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's profile receives a score of 1.6 out of 10.
  5. If you are worried about what information is available and need help with your privacy settings, try a tool like Reclaim Privacy to walk you through your privacy settings.  Reclaim Privacy is a browser-based scanner that will look at your Facebook privacy settings and lets you know where potential problems lie.   One of the nice things about this tool is that it not only color-codes potential problems (with red being most severe), but also will link to the correct location under Facebook's privacy settings to correct any problems.


Finally, just like any online activities, be careful with what information your putting out there.  We've seen people provide a complete date of birth on their profile, leave detailed information on travel plans indicating when they'll be leaving an empty home behind, and tag photos with the names of children.  If you have questions about how to protect yourself online or need additional assistance, contact Information Technology.

posted @ Tuesday, May 18, 2010 10:27 AM

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