Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Facebook Simplifies Sharing your Personal Info

Even our local news channels have been reporting that Facebook has simplified their privacy policies. What they failed to notice is how Facebook is encouraging users to disclose even more information to “Everyone”.

The Facebook privacy news has also given credibility to the malicious phishing attempts that arrive in your Email with the subject “Facebook Account Update”. Some of my friends who would normally know better have fallen for these spam Emails thinking it’s part of the newly announced privacy policies.

Instead what Facebook users should see is the following pop up when they sign on.


Like me your first reaction may be hurray! Facebook has listened to us and will be increasing our privacy. Guess again. When you click to continue you’ll see a revamped version of their current privacy settings. Unless you’re paying attention much of the information you only want “Friends” to see will now be available to “Everyone”. In all the accounts I tested Facebook inconsistently changed the setting from “Friends” to either “Everyone” or “Friends of Friends”.


Unless you explicitly tell Facebook to use your old settings you’ll be opening up your personal information to the world.


If you’ve already gone though this process or not I recommend going to your Facebook Settings, click on Privacy and you should see the following window. One problem with this screen is the user interface. It doesn’t tell you that you still need to click on “Change Settings” and re-enter your password. I guess they consider this additional password as security but fail to realize if you come to this screen you’ve already indicated your desire to change your settings.

newfacebook4 There’s also no “Apply” on this screen which as a user interface person drives me nuts. You can just leave this screen and your settings will be changed.

Unfortunately, It Gets Worse

Facebook has also been making some lucrative deals with search engine providers. One of the other new settings you’ll want to look at is “Search”. Do you want Google indexing the information you provide on Facebook making it available to the world? It may be ok if you’re having an affair with Tiger Woods but most of us probably won’t want this information so easily available.

Find this under Settings –> Privacy Settings –> Search

I’m a pretty public person so my personal information are probably easy to find but I still changed these settings. Facebook to me is something I consider a little more personal and I don’t want to take any chances. I suspect many of you feel the same way.

If you missed my previous article on the companies who created Facebook Applications be sure to read “Who Gets Your Personal Information on Facebook”.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill P.,
Did not realize that google
could precheck everyone to get your info. I'm glad I read your article on personal info. All my
children even the adults did not realize that they were giving out their info on facebook. I'm surprised that WNYT, WTEN and the other stations pick this up as a news piece on computer info safety.
I pride myself on security
when on the computer so this could
have caught me by surprise. Keep up the good work between you and
Security Garden I'm up to date on
Thank You,

12:06 AM  
Blogger RickyS said...

Thanks Bill. Appreciate you keeping us up to date on this issue.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What wasn't noted in this article is the following.

If you and your FB "Friends" don't change your privacy settings to "Friends Only", any "Friend" of a "Friend" can access your "Wall", personal FB info and "Friends List". Plus they will have full access to your "Friends" FB page who've not changed their privacy settings to "Friends Only".

Changing to "Friends Only" is important because nearly all of us have: people we really don't know, charities, churches, organizations and companies that are on our "Friends list". Many of these "Friends" accept every "Friend Request" they get. Which is OK since they're good honest ethical "Friends" who are building a community to serve or service. But, who are some of their so called "Friends"?

So, by changing privacy settings to "Friends Only" you help block access to the unscrupulous spammers, scammers and predators.

I'm sure that not everything on our FB pages must be set to "Friends Only". But like most FB users, how am I to know which those are. And, I've not the time to research them out. Better to over protect my virtual-self, my real friends and family than leave that security door open.

Thanks you Bill for this article and thanks to my friend Dan N... who filled me in on this web security issue.

Safe Webbing All

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill P., Thank you so very much. Alas, I have been intent for some year's to avoid Facebook altogether, knowing that such issues would be a prominent issue. Yet one friend requested that I sign up for it. Since then, I've had just one minor tech glitch which was handled expediently by my security program. But since Banker's are now checking on an individuals Facebook account during the lending process; plus employers are doing likewise, I just think that it is best to either be EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS with your "online I.D." or just cancel your social media accounts altogether. I for one do not appreciate this practice adopted by these institutions and I simply wonder why others would choose to accept or sit back and say nothing about it. So yes, I am pro-choice for "Internet Privacy" on a limited scale for internet users. The whole idea of social media needs to be totally revamped and regulated. As also the internet needs to be revamped or reconstructed or re-..... whatever! I am sick of all the headache issues with security!

11:47 PM  

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