Facebook 111: Customized Facebook Privacy Settings

In Facebook 110 I provided a basic intro to Facebook privacy settings, and how by selecting one of the pre-configured settings you can substantially control access to your personal information on Facebook.

And it only takes a minute or so.

This course will help you take the next step.

Shaun Dakin, a commenter on the previous post, shared a helpful post by Nilay Patel on using lists to manage your Facebook privacy. Check it out on Engadget.

Here’s my introduction to lists as a tool for managing access to your Facebook data. As I did last time, I have posted text to accompany and explain each slide.

Slide 2: To most effectively manage access to your Facebook information, you need to create lists of your various types of friends. To create those lists, you start by going to the Edit Friends link on you Facebook profile, and then clicking the Create List button.

Slide 3: Create your various lists to segregate friends you want to group together for privacy purposes and for group communication. Privacy controls are just one use for lists; you also can use friend lists to address messages in Facebook.

Slide 4: When you go back to your privacy settings and click the Customize settings link you will see that there are three basic groupings of information you can control. The first of these is things you share. You will note that there are several types of data in this category, and that you can have different privacy settings for each of them. The adjustment process is the same for all of them (and for the other categories as well) so I will show how to do that after introducing the various types.

Slide 5: The second category is Things others share. You don’t have control over what other people upload to Facebook, but by tweaking these settings you can limit who sees those materials. So, if you’re concerned that someone might upload a less-than-flattering or unprofessional photo of you, you can strictly limit who can see photos and videos you’re tagged in.

Slide 6: Contact Information is the third major category. For example, you probably would want to limit who can have access to your cell phone number, because if you’re like most people you wouldn’t want just anyone to call you on your mobile; you wouldn’t want them to consume your costly minutes.

Slide 7: This shows what you see when you click the button with the lock symbol next to each data type. You can limit access to your Friends, to Friends of Friends, or to Specific People.

Slide 8: This is an example of access management by exception. For this one, I have said all of my friends can see the items, with the exception of those on my Limited Profile, Professional and Blog Friends lists.

Slide 9: This is an example of managing access by limiting to specific people (those on my Family list and on my High School Friends list). In this category the only people who can see this information are those on one of those two lists.

Slide 10: When you click the Preview my Profile button, you again see how most people see your page. But you can also…

Slide 11: Put in the name of one of your friends, and see that page as he or she sees it. In this case, I put in my sister-in-law’s name, to see how her view differs from the basic view. By using this preview feature you can fine-tune your settings until you get them just as you want them.

Slide 12: Privacy settings are just one use for Friend Lists. In this slide I created a group called Facebook Addicts and included my wife, Lisa, and two of my daughters. When you are sending messages in Facebook, instead of listing the individuals, you can use a Friend list for distribution.

Slide 13: Check out other courses in the SMUG curriculum for more step-by-step training in applying social media.

Facebook 110: Protecting Privacy in Facebook

In “What’s Wrong with this Picture?” I made an analogy that relates to a situation I think is all too common: people who express anxiety about their privacy in Facebook, but who haven’t taken advantage of the privacy protections Facebook offers.

It’s like playing goalie in the National Hockey League without a mask, and then complaining about facial injuries.

So in this course I’m going to provide a step-by-step process for using Facebook’s privacy settings to accomplish your objectives in using the site, while also giving you comfort that you are limiting access to your personal data.

I’m trying a little different approach this time, in that I am embedding slides with the graphics, but instead of an audio track or a video to accompany, I’m using text with links to narrate each slide. You may want to consider opening another window so you can have one showing the slides while you scroll through the text narration in the other. (Open another copy of this post). I would also recommend you open a third window and sign in to Facebook, so you can apply settings on your personal profile as you learn by switching among the three windows.

Slide 1: As per my analogy, this is a shot of former NHL goalie Gump Worsely, sans mask, with a puck hurtling toward his face. In the next 9 slides I will show you how to adjust your personal protections to avoid a similar problem in Facebook.

Slide 2: To adjust your privacy settings, just go under your Account tab in the upper right corner of your Facebook profile. Or you can just click this link. At the top of the page you will see a message that describe the kinds of information that are available to everyone, along with a link that lets you modify some other elements everyone can see by default. Click that View Settings link.

Slide 3: On this slide you see the basic settings for what the half-billion plus users of Facebook get to see on your profile. You will see rationale for each element, and why you would want to make that information available.

Slide 4: For each of the types of information, you can decide to limit access. You can limit to your networks, to your friends and networks, to friends of friends, or friends only. Then if you click the Preview my Profile button in the upper right, you will see something like the next slide.

Slide 5: This is how a most people see my profile on Facebook. Yours would look somewhat different if you decide to limit access to one or more categories of information. But the point is, you can click the Preview my Profile button to see what you’re making available. And if you don’t like it, you can change it.

Slide 6: Now, going back to your main privacy settings page, let’s look at some of the other information you can share or choose to restrict. This slide shows the categories of information, and highlights that if you choose  the Everyone option it will all be available to the world. I don’t recommend that.

Slide 7: The next broad option, Friends of Friends, makes several items available to people who are friends with people who are your friends, while leaving other categories (such as your contact information) only open to your friends.

Slide 8: If you choose Friends Only, you can limit access to this information to only those you have accepted as friends.

Slide 9: These are the settings Facebook recommends. I personally think they are pretty reasonable for most people, but the key is you get to decide just how much of a mask you want to wear.

Choose whichever of the basic frameworks you think is closest to what you want, and then hit the Apply These Settings button.

This is the end of the first course in the Protecting Privacy series on SMUG. In the next course, we’ll look at further customizing your mask.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Meet Gump Worsely, who played goalie in the National Hockey League.

Gump was famous for playing without a mask and helmet long after almost everyone else in pro hockey had adopted this protection. Slap shots would fly at his face at speeds often exceeding 100 miles per hour, but as Wikipedia says (so we know it must be true!), he told reporters he went without a mask because, “My face is my mask.”

I guess it was his choice, as he was grandfathered in and didn’t have to follow the new rule.

I think of Gump when I hear people complain or express anxiety about their privacy in Facebook. One of the things I want to ask them is…

Did you remember to put on your mask and helmet?

Facebook has extensive built-in privacy protections that you can control. And next week I’m going to have a course to show you how to configure your settings according to your preferences. You can go to your Facebook privacy settings to start exploring right now, if you’d like.

On an interesting side note, I discovered this other side of Gump in my extensive Wikipedia-based research for this post:

Worsley was also well known for his fear of flying. He suffered a nervous breakdown in the 1968–69 season after a rough flight from Montreal’s Dorval Airport to Chicago on November 25 en route to Los Angeles, and received psychiatric treatment and missed action as a result. It is said that when he came out of retirement to play for the North Stars he was assured that, as Minnesota was in the central part of the continent, the team traveled less than any other in the league.

Air travel was significantly less risky than having high-speed projectiles shot at his unprotected face. Yet Gump’s fears didn’t match the comparative risks of the two activities.

Next week we’ll work at easing any fears you might have about your privacy in Facebook.

Facebook 211: Friend Lists

In Facebook 210, a course developed over two years ago, I described how to use friend lists to make Facebook your all-purpose networking platform.

Back then, Facebook had “only” 100 million active users. Now it’s over 500 million. And over the last couple of years there have been changes to the site and resulting controversies about privacy. I will deal further with privacy protections in Facebook 212 and 213, but for now I want to update the Friend lists concept and highlight the role it can play, enabling you to be friends on Facebook with a wide variety of people without giving all of them the same level of access to your information.

Continue reading “Facebook 211: Friend Lists”

On Kids and Social Network Privacy

Yesterday I was contacted by Mary Brophy Marcus of USA Today for comment and perspective related to a survey of parents and teens on online privacy. I’ve included an excerpt of the resulting article below:

Three out of four parents (75%) say they would negatively rate the job social networks are doing, according to the survey of more than 2,000 parents and 400 teens by Common Sense Media, a national nonprofit organization focused on helping kids and families negotiate the social media galaxy.

“American families are deeply worried. Privacy is a huge concern,” said James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, who wants to see lawmakers update online privacy policies.

Steyer says the industry alone will never protect the privacy interests of children.

“Obviously we’re going to need updated online privacy laws which haven’t been changed since 1998, which is like Medieval, centuries ago. We need to put heavy pressure on the industry,” he says.

While the survey indicated that most parents (70%) think schools should play a role in educating students about protecting their privacy online, social media experts feel families should shoulder the responsibility, too.

“I don’t know whether it’s in the schools that education needs to happen, but it has to happen,” says Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, in Rochester, Minn. “So much burden is on the schools. Some of this needs to happen in the families.”

Aase, a father of six children ranging in age from 11 to 24, says privacy tools are already in place that people are just not taking advantage of. He says there is immense power to punish bad behavior, including blocking people on Twitter and unfriending them on Facebook. You can also report abuses directly to Facebook.

“If someone’s really bothering or hassling you, you have the ability to stop them from communicating,” Aase says.

I also suggested, as indicated in the close of the article, that parents being friends with their kids on Facebook is an important safeguard, but also an important way to stay in touch.

A few additional thoughts and some background:

“Make the schools do it” is a cop-out. My dad was an elementary principal and then a school board member. He sensitized me to how often “make the schools do it” is the first “solution” offered to whatever perceived problem society faces. I don’t see training kids in online privacy protection as a core responsibility for public schools. I think it’s fine if some local districts decide they want to make it part of their curriculum, but with everything else they have to do, I don’t see this as the only (or best) way to deal with kids’ privacy online.

The schools aren’t the only place education happens. As SMUGgles know, learning online is cost-effective and interactive. And it scales. Unlike a traditional classroom in which a high student-teacher ratio makes learning more difficult, more people involved in an online environment improves the course quality, because learners get the benefit of others’ comments, questions and answers. And if we’re learning about online privacy, wouldn’t it seem that online would be the right context in which to learn?

Organizations concerned about privacy should provide great and engaging online curriculum for students and their parents. Most people read Terms of Use and Privacy Policy documents as thoroughly as a Mac user does software manuals (a bit of self-deprecating humor, there.) An organization with a passion for privacy could do a lot more good by creating online learning resources for teachers and parents.

By the way, with our Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media and the related Social Media Health Network we will be developing resources and training materials for patients and medical professionals to provide education on privacy settings and practices for those using social media tools in the medical context.

What do you think? Are online privacy laws hopelessly antiquated? Or is the main problem that people don’t take advantage of the privacy options most sites already have incorporated? How big is the online privacy problem? Is this a “huge concern” that has you “deeply worried” or is it a something you think is relatively well managed? What would you do about it?