This is for you if you’ve been stranded on a desert island without access to the dire warnings about privacy protections on Facebook.
In a nutshell there is no such thing as privacy on Facebook. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself as best you can and still enjoy the benefits of being a member.
1. Be discerning about what you put on Facebook (or anywhere else online for that matter).
If you send your Twitter tweets and your blog posts to Facebook, you’re sharing that information as well. Adopt the mantra “What goes online, stays online.”
Even if you delete it, chances are good that there’s a backup of it somewhere–especially since Facebook retains the right to change privacy settings retroactively.
2. Decide how you will use Facebook.
I made the decision from the get-go that I would use it for business. Sure, I have personal friends there, but I behave as if the world is listening–because it is. I don’t bad-mouth anyone, I don’t put drunken photos up, and I don’t participate in party politics.
3. Don’t say stupid stuff.
By stupid stuff, I mean don’t let anyone know that you live alone or that your house will be empty.
Stupid: Headed to Dallas for the arts festival. I sure hope my cat will be okay alone for two days.
Smarter, but probably not effective: Headed to Dallas for the arts festival. I sure hope my Rottweiler is nice to my cat while I’m gone.
**4. Adjust your privacy settings.
Do this right now! Go to Facebook and click on Account in the upper right. Then select Privacy Settings. Go through each one of these until you are comfortable with them.
Check these regularly–especially after Facebook changes their interface, which seems to be about once every other month.
5. Block applications.
I’m not interested in using Facebook applications, so I block every one of them–just in case you wondered why I wasn’t playing Farmville with you. When you install an application, you are sharing your information with that app. If you choose to install an app, at least recheck your privacy settings after installation.
6. Dedicate a browser specifically for using Facebook.
I do most of my Web browsing in Firefox, but have recently started using Safari for Facebook.
7. Log off of Facebook when you’re not using it.
If you stay logged in, Facebook can continue to gather data about where you’re surfing.
See The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook.
A better title might be The Devolution of Privacy on Facebook.
Read about the Reclaim Privacy bookmark for your Web browser.
THIS JUST IN: Facebook readjusts its privacy interface and makes my screen capture above almost dated (since it was taken an hour ago).