We all know that we’re living in a digital word nowadays. I’m not going to tell you that it’s a bad thing. You can live wherever you want and still be in daily contact with your family and friends. My personal opinion is, that modern technologies, if used wisely, are adding extra value to our life. Waiting for a bus? Why not to text one of your friends to see how they’re doing? Looking for something? Google will find it for you and tell you how to get it right away. It’s so easy to find reviews or write opinion on anything. All our online accounts are interconnected in a way that you don’t even need to register to a new website or services. Just click: Login using Facebook or Gmail. But how about the privacy? Is it still in our hands?
Facebook & privacy
How many people do you know who do not have Facebook account? I know 4. They don’t have it and don’t want it. Main reason? Privacy. The truth is, that there’s awful loads of information about you on Facebook. Everything you ever write or post is recorded, saved & backed up several times on many different servers around the world. By everything, I mean everything. Your profile, photos, posts, age, gender, preferences & interest and all your private conversations too…
The question is: How much of the information is accessible by “ordinary” people?
Everything, that you posted or shared as “Public” is publicly accessible. If you’re really into your own privacy, you’re well familiar with the basic Facebook privacy settings. According to Facebook, some information is ALWAYS set to public. It’s called your Public Profile and it includes your age range, language, country, name, gender, username, profile picture, cover photo and networks. All public information is accessible by anyone and is being indexed by Google. That means, that even if you change your profile picture and delete the previous one, most likely Google still remembers it.
How can I post something privately?
Every time you post or share something, you can choose the audience you would like to post it to. Click on the button on the left side of the “Post” button and the drop-down menu will appear with your options. You can change your audience to:
- Public – everyone will be able to see it and Google will get access to it too, so even people not connected to Facebook might get to this information.
- Friends – your Facebook friends will be able to see it
- Only me – yourself only
- Custom – you can choose people one by one who can see your post
- People from your area – this will take into account the location set in your FB profile
- Family – people on Facebook marked as you family members.
When sharing on Facebook, you have several options to choose from:
- Share now (Friends) – all your friends can see it but no-one else. Please note that option in brackets depends on your own setting.
- Share in a group – group members will see it, your friends, who aren’t in the particular group won’t see it.
- Share… – this gives you more options to share the post, write something about it etc.
- Send as message – this will let you send a private message with the link to a FB post you’re sharing.
- Share on a friend’s Timeline – post will be added to your friend’s timeline, not yours and his/her friends will be able to see it.
Pick how/where do you want to share and don’t forget to change your audience settings according to your decision before hitting “Post”.
What do you want to share with your employer?
Background check of employees or candidates for open positions in a company is a common routine in many companies and work agencies. Maybe it is prohibited by law in your country to ask candidates personal questions (e.g. number and age of their children), but no-one can stop the recruiter from googling your name and checking your Facebook profile. Just be aware of it in case you might be looking for a job. Calling in sick and then posting photos of a nice sunny trip on Facebook on the very same day have cost a job few people before 🙂
How about Closed groups on Facebook?
Closed groups are great as your friends who are not in the group aren’t getting any notifications about your activities in this group and cannot read the posts. In other words, only members of the group can see the posts.
On the other hand, if you’re discussing something in a group that has lot of members, you never know who is and who isn’t in this group. Ok, you can check if someone is on a members list, but would you remember to check everyone who you possibly don’t want to be reading your comments? And can you be so sure that no one will share your posts and comments with their friends or even publicly? I know that it is against the rules of most of closed groups but would you rely on it with the most sensitive information about yourself or you child?
The rule is: Never post anything on FB that you don’t want your child’s friends to find out in 10 years.
Your baby might be little at the time but he will go to school to learn to read & write sooner than you know it. And in ten years, some “well-meaning” classmates of your child will be more than happy to find & share the “gossip” that your son was still having accidents at night when he was 5. The information won’t just disappear, just because your little baby has grown up.
One last hint: How to check if 2 people are connected?
You can easily cross-check the connection of two people on Facebook. I found these instructions on Quora, here’s what to do:
- Find 2 people you want to cross-check on Facebook and write down their usernames. That’s what you see behind slash after www.facebook.com/ when you’re in someone’s profile.
- Replace username1 and username2 with the two usernames you’ve written down in the following URL: https://www.facebook.com/friendship/username1/username2/
It really works, try & see for yourself 🙂
Conclusion: I’m not really sure if there is such thing as privacy in a digital world. Even things that seem to be private are still stored for years on servers of Facebook, Google and other companies. However, the privacy settings are here to help you maintain at least some of your privacy. Read through them, use them and always think twice before writing or posting anything online.