I spent most of my day reading a collection of posts about the privacy setting changes Facebook made in December 2009 (thanks, David!) and looking at the screenshots of privacy setting pages a bunch of you sent me (thanks so much — if you haven’t sent me screenshots and would like to do it now, it’s not too late!) Thanks a lot also to those of you on Twitter who helped me out by answering questions or giving me feedback on what was or not visible on certain pages.
So, here is an unordered list of my preliminary findings:
- Your profile and certain elements of it are “publicly available information” and there’s nothing you can do about it: your name, profile photo, list of friends, pages you are a fan of, gender, networks to which you belong, and current city (so don’t try to hide your list of pages from your public profile, you can’t).
- You cannot hide your list of friends from your friends, and by default, it appears on your public profile (steps to remove your friends’ list from your public profile are a little counter-intuitive).
- Your relationship status, gender preference and “looking for” information are now in the same setting as who are your family members. Unless you set this to “only me” your “relationship stories” will be published to your news feed (there used to be a way to opt out certain types of “stories” from your newsfeed — that is not possible anymore). Anybody else notice how there are suddenly more “relationship stories” in your newsfeeds? 😉
- It seems that the “show public profile in search engine results” is now checked by default, even if you had unchecked it previously. You might want to make sure it’s the way you want it. (Anybody else getting an annoying alert asking you if you’re scared of search engines?)
- Did you know that your friends can share information about you through the applications that they install?
- Checking out my ex-students profiles (I’m not friends with them, but have “common friends” with many) I got to see a lot of wall posts and photographs that were probably not intended for the public at large. This tells me that they’re probably not aware of how public what they are posting is (even if most of it is quite innocuous, it’s a problem that people do not have a clear picture of how public or private the information they publish is).
- Based on the screenshots I received, not many people seem to be taking advantage of friend lists to manage their privacy. I have lists and love the idea of being able to use them like this, but curating the lists is a lot of work and mine are very messy.
- One of the big changes is that you can now specify how public each item you post is. However, I’m not sure how “Everybody” is supposed to access one of my wall posts if my public profile does not show my wall (my posts are by default “Friends Only”).
- If you post on a friend’s wall, that posting inherits your friend’s privacy settings for “Posts by friends” (which might be “Everybody”!) and as far as I can tell, you have no way of knowing what those settings are. It also seems that when you comment upon a post, the comment inherits the privacy settings of the commented item (not 100% sure about this, can anybody confirm)?
- You cannot completely hide from applications anymore.
Always happy to receive more screenshots or interesting links.