Back in December 2009, Facebook changed their default privacy settings for users, pretty much revealing someone’s entire profile: photos, information, contact information, friends, etc. to the universe, including major search engines. At the same time and throughout January, they announced the change on the site at the point of login, and users were given the option to change these defaults to protect their privacy. But, how many of us actually did it? Unless you log in to the site frequently, you might not have known about the changes for days, weeks, or months ( not that this would be an issue with Facebook marketers and affiliates who are hooked up to the site by IV…) and even frequent FBers are so used to seeing little banners and extra information that you might just ignore it.
Opening up Facebook in this way seems to be another wave in the current tide of making the web more transparent. Twitter’s power for marketers is based on it, and this change from FB is probably just a follow-suit move to cater to their advertisers, though how it will affect their total revenue remains to be seen.
Getting back to how this all affects us, the general Facebook community, Sarah Perez of The New York Times made some recommendations for protecting your privacy on Facebook, and here is her shortlist of the 3 most important profile items you should think about protecting:
1. Decide Who Can See The Things You Share (Status Updates, Photo, Videos, etc.)
If you accepted the new recommended settings then you voluntarily gave Facebook the right to share the information about the items you post with any user or application on the site. Depending on your search settings, you may have also given Facebook the right to share that information with search engines, too.
2. Decide Who Can See Your Personal Info
Facebook has a section of your profile called “personal info,” but it only includes your interests, activities, and favorites. Other arguably more personal information is not encompassed by the “personal info” setting on Facebook’s Privacy Settings page. That other information includes things like your birthday, your religious and political views, and your relationship status.
After last month’s privacy changes, Facebook set the new defaults for this other information to viewable by either “Everyone” (for family and relationships, aka relationship status) or to “Friends of Friends” (birthday, religious and political views). Depending on your own preferences, you can update each of these fields as you see fit. However, we would bet that many will want to set these to “Only Friends” as well.
3. What Google Can See – Keep Your Data Off the Search Engines
When you visit Facebook’s Search Settings page, a warning message pops up. Apparently, Facebook wants to clear the air about what info is being indexed by Google. The message reads:
“There have been misleading rumors recently about Facebook indexing all your information on Google. This is not true. Facebook created public search listings in 2007 to enable people to search for your name and see a link to your Facebook profile. They will still only see a basic set of information.”
While that may be true to a point, the second setting listed on this Search Settings page refers to exactly what you’re allowing Google to index. If the box next to “Allow” is checked, you’re giving search engines the ability to access and index any information you’ve marked as visible by “Everyone.” As you can see from the settings discussed above, if you had not made some changes to certain fields, you would be sharing quite a bit with the search engines…probably more information than you were comfortable with.
As an affiliate network with a significant portion of business in Facebook and Social Media, we strive to uphold the quality of affiliate activity in this area. Part of that quality is an ethical commitment to the users on behalf of our advertisers, and so we recommend that you take a few minutes to follow the steps outlined in this post to keep Facebook a happy place!