In case you haven’t heard, Facebook is The Social Networking Site. But with its constant updates and ever changing privacy setting changes, you may not realize that your Facebook page could be sharing more personal information about you than you want anyone to know.
Do you know if your Facebook page is telling the world (or your future employers, or your stalker ex-girlfriend, or God forbid, your mom ) too much information about you? Here are some Facebook settings that smart users should always keep more private than public.
You should always adjust your Facebook privacy settings to make your Wall, Photos and Personal information marked for “Friends Only”. If you don’t, these pages are viewable to the public. As for your Info page, if you post your email, phone number or street address it’s also smart to mark it for Friends’ eyes only. Basic information like your birthday (minus the year) and schools attended is generally okay, but definitely scour your page to see what information you want made public .
And remember, human resource departments and college admissions offices love to check up on candidates’ Facebook profiles (according to a 2008 Kaplan survey, 1 in 10 colleges check out check out applicants’ social networking activity). So if you’re applying for that management job, you may want to make sure your Facebook wall and photos-and even your Likes- are kept private.
Sure it’s fun to post photos on your Facebook page. And when you’re in control of what’s posted, it’s just great. Vacation photos, pictures of your kids, even your high school prom pics can all be uploaded to share with your friends. But on Facebook, unwanted photo ops abound with the Tag feature. Your college roommate is free to “tag” you in old school photos that show your drunken debauchery. Or even worse, last week’s drunken debauchery! Worst of all, the photos will show up on your Photos page- even though you did not put them there. If you have any sort of loose cannon on your Facebook friends list, you may want to flip the “Photos Tagged of Me” setting to private, where only you can see them. Just sayin’.
Update Your Status With Caution
Announcing your whereabouts -from party invites to long vacations- is just asking for trouble. if you post your every move on your Facebook wall that means that all 492 of your Facebook friends will know what you’re doing. That’s fine if you don’t mind 492 people knowing that your house will be empty for two weeks while you jet off to Maui.
But let’s face it, if you have 492 Facebook friends, how many of them are really your close friends? You don’t know if the barely-memorable random guy from your junior high science class who somehow tracked you down on Facebook is a trustworthy individual these days. If you have anyone on your Facebook page but the closest of friends and family, you may want to skip the “Off to Mexico for 10 days!” status updates. Either that or you might as well put a flashing neon sign in front of your house announcing that you’ll be out of town.
As for party invites and secret play dates, again, while you certainly don’t want to censor your every move on Facebook (because what would be the point of being on a social networking site, right?), if you write all about a party that you’re having, expect that someone who you didn’t invite may find out about it. If you’re okay with them learning that they didn’t make your guest list, by all means post away.
Take it to the Message Box
Avoid having long conversations on your Facebook wall. It’s very easy to hit Reply to a wall post and have a back and forth conversation posted all over your wall where it’s a public read for everyone on your Friends list. You can mark your entire wall as Private, but that’s no fun.
The wall is great in moderation- your peeps can check in to say hi, post a birthday greeting, etc. But long conversations are better on Private Message. Or better yet, why not pick up the phone and call the person? Don’t have their phone number– or at least access to it? Then you may want to ask yourself why you are Facebook friends them with in the first place.
Also realize that your Facebook wall conversations are public news to everyone who is friends with both you and the person you’re chatting with. That’s why you’ll see your mutual friends’ lunch plans on your News Feed if they make them on their wall. Not that you’ll feel left out or anything.
Finally, these tips aren’t an attempt to suck all of the joy out of your Facebook page. It’s just that even on The Social Networking Site, it pays to be PC.