Friday, May 21st, 2010
Facebook is one of the most popular websites with more than 400 million registered users, half of which log into the social network every day. Over recent days, a fire storm has erupted over Facebook’s revised privacy settings. Essentially, privacy settings now require users to manually “opt out”, if they wish to protect their personal information. If they don’t do this, some of their personal data will be publicly shared.

As this infographic shows, controlling your privacy settings on Facebook is quite complex. If you want to keep all of your personal information private, you will need to invest some serious time and go through all of the 50 privacy settings with contain more than 170 options. To make matters worse, Facebook seems to make it increasingly difficult to change the privacy settings and opt-out of public sharing.

The good news is that Facebook does at least provide some guidance on Privacy on its website. However, the bad news is that the 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! (NB. Under the Account Settings option, untick the options for sharing information with advertisers, if you do not want your details shared with them.)

According to Facebook’s Privacy Guide, the site segments its members into three broad areas - Friends, Friends of Friends and everyone else. Using the inbuilt privacy controls, you can decide which person has access to which parts of your data. However, it is not always easy to configure these settings for each user. So what can you do to make your life on Facebook a little bit easier?

Lloyd Borrett, Marketing Manager at AVG (AU/NZ), suggests: “You may wish to create a number of groups for your Facebook ‘Friends’. For example, Friends, Family and Work. This will allow you to assign a number of different sharing settings with each group. Therefore, only certain people see the data that you wish to share. All Facebook (‘The Unofficial Facebook Resource’) has published an excellent article on protecting your privacy and is well worth reading too.

“Our advice is to 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 once you finish reading posts. You just don’t know what information could be leaking.”

See also:
Facebook Shares Personal Information Across the Web By Default
AVG warns you need to logout of Facebook if you want to maintain your privacy

Ten Tips for Staying Safe on Facebook
Say what you want on Facebook but be careful about it, warns AVG (AU/NZ)

For more AVG security tips, see

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