Most of you out there (who aren’t hiding under a rock) would have noticed yet another change to how you experience Facebook with the introduction of “Timeline” late last year. And, despite initial moans and groans that Facebook has changed things on you again, and how inconvenient and unfair it is, not much else has changed, and for many day-to-day users (of Facebook’s 845 million active monthly users) this is somewhat true. But apart from the new layout (some cool uses of the new cover image), better interaction and other benefits you did and didn’t notice from this change there’s one important thing that many users are still oblivious to. This key change, despite Facebook’s “best” efforts to advise users is PRIVACY.
That’s right the big issue we all see from time to time being heavily debated by spec laden, bearded techos effects a concerning number of users, or should I say YOU-sers
So what’s the big deal then?
With the introduction of the new Timeline, many users profiles became a lot more public than many users are aware of. Whilst I am a big fan of Timeline, it seems that a lot of people out there who weren’t as excited by this as me missed this vital change.
In a nutshell, if you thought you had already “locked down” your FB profile, keeping unwanted eyes from prying on those photo’s that were for “friends only”, THINK AGAIN! The introduction of Timeline can be best explained as a “new feature” (more on this here) which comes with it’s very own set of “new privacy settings”. And the default of these new privacy settings is…. Yep, you guessed it, open to EVERYONE!!
Now for those of you chronic Facebook stalkers out there, you’ll be in your prime flicking through hundreds (maybe even thousands if your day job’s a bit slow) of photos/wall posts and other info from people that your not yet ready to become “friends” with (or worse, people who aren’t ready to be friends with you).
But don’t take my word for it, see it for yourself
The good news is that you can get back to being your mysterious self by running through a few basic changes to your privacy settings (explained later in this post). First things first, before you rush off to go “get your stalk on“, time to start off by stalking yourself.
Facebook’s help features provide clear instructions of how you can view your own profile. To see just how naked you really are now (by naked, I mean open to the world), here’s what to do:
So if you do the above and you’re a bit disturbed/angry/embarrassed, fear not because you’re only a few clicks away from a controlled sense of peace and privacy.
Time to get back in control.
Right, this should only take you a couple of minutes and again Facebook’s’ help features explain what you need to do here. The following instructions will help you make some basic changes to lock down some key aspects of your profile.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to keep checking the “view as” tool from time to time to make sure you’re comfortable with what’s open to everyone on your profile – call it Facebook hygiene! Just like you (hopefully) take care of your personal hygiene, your online hygiene requires similar attention. After all, things change over time, and while a picture of you chugging back a yard glass of beer might be seen as a laugh today, it might not be seen in the same light tomorrow (or next year).
Making your Facebook Profile/Timeline private:
Step 1: Go to Privacy Settings > Control your default privacy
Change these settings from “Public” to “Friends”, or if you want to go crazy and really lock things down you can select “Custom” and select only a certain group of your friends (or just yourself) to see every post – but for most people the “Custom” option might be a bit overboard.
Step 2: Go to Privacy Settings > Timeline and Tagging
Change the settings for “Who can post on your timeline?” “Who can see posts by others on your timeline?” and “Who can see posts that appear on your timeline because you’ve been tagged?” from “Public” to “Friends.”
Step3: Go to Privacy Settings > Limit the Audience for Past Posts
Finally, you can limit your past posts — which may have been made public at the time — to Friends only. To do this, go to “Limit the Audience for Past Posts” and click “Manage Past Post Visibility“, then “Limit Old Posts“. This will change all past posts to Friends-only, even if you initially made them public.
Still frustrated at Facebook?
Now that you’re back in control you’re might be feeling annoyed at Facebook for sliding this one pass you, my advice? Don’t be!
While it might feel scary to be made aware that what you thought was locked down to the world was as private as a Britney Spears’ melt down. The reality is that we now live in a connected world, a world where the internet has become a significant part of our daily lives, and each of us have to take responsibility for our own privacy in that world just as we would do so in the offline world.
When Timeline was rolled out, Facebook gave all its users a chance to opt in as well as to preview their new Timeline for seven days before it became live for friends to see. This was combined with plenty of notifications sitting at the top of your Facebook page for quite some time.
After all, Facebook is good at what it does, it’s one of the worlds (if not the #1) most visited websites (source: reuters) and by evolving their FREE product they can keep it that way, saving you from another painful migrate to the next best thing (remember Bebo and MySpace??), God forbid we all flipped the bird to Facebook and headed over to Google+.
Nothing in life is free, and just like TV (but better) Facebook needs money coming in to keep you from having to pay for it’s service and to do this they need advertisers. But that’s a whole other blog post…
A simple lesson we can take from this is that as the Internet integrates its way more and more into our lives (and pockets). Take note of what’s going on around you. I don’t mean start subscribing to Mashable, Tech Crunch and/or a plethora of other tech news sites. All I’m saying is that when things change (and they will), take notice of what the changes are, read the notifications that you “don’t have time to” and if you have questions, seek answers. Who knows, you might just find what you’re looking for.