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How take charge of your Facebook privacy


User rage over Facebook’s revised privacy settings may have settled down for now but that’s no reason to get complacent. According to AVG’s Lloyd Borrett, managing your Facebook privacy is as simple as one, two, three.

User upset over Facebook’s privacy settings can largely be attributed to the requirement that users must manually “opt out” (rather than “opt-in”) if they want to protect their personal information. If they don’t do this, personal data can and will be shared with the wildly popular social networking site and its 500 million-plus users

As this infographic from the New York Times shows, Facebook doesn’t make controlling your privacy settings easy.

If you want to keep your personal information private, you will need to invest some serious time and go through 50 privacy settings, which each contain more than 170 options.

The good news is that Facebook provides some guidance on privacy. The bad news is that its privacy policy is 5,830 words long. The really bad news is that even after navigating the 170 options, some personal information may still be shared across Facebook!

Is there an effective way to overcome these obstacles? Yes. It’s as easy as “one, two, three”.

It starts with the three broad categories Facebook assigns for members:

  1. Friend;
  2. Friends of Friends; and,
  3. Everyone Else.

Try creating a number of groups for the first set, your Friends. For example, ‘Drinking Buddies’, ‘School Friends’ and ‘Family & Work’.This will allow you to assign different information-sharing settings for each group.

With this approach, only certain people see the data you wish to share. And only certain people can share the data you wish to share.

Also, under your Account Settings option, untick the options for sharing information with advertisers if you don’t want your details shared with them.

All Facebook (“The Unofficial Facebook Resource”) has several excellent articles on protecting your privacy and are well worth reading.

Take a serious peek into your privacy settings and make sure you are happy with what you are or aren’t sharing. And don’t forget you need to log out of Facebook when you’re finished reading posts. You don’t know what information could be leaking.

Lloyd Borrett is the marketing manager at AVG (AU/NZ) , where he is responsible for raising awareness of AVG security solutions in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific.  He has spent more than 30 years in the Australian ICT sector. During the 1980s, he started Australia’s first magazine column on IBM PCs and founded the Melbourne PC User Group, which today is still the largest such user group in the world.

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