Facebook Privacy – the Graph App and other things you need to know

This morning a friend posted a Facebook Privacy warning with the very dire words “I WILL HAVE TO DELTE” you in the post. Of course, this made me wonder what I would need to do now to maintain a friendship but more importantly, to maintain my own security on the popular social networking site.

Her warning went like this:

WARNING!!! FACEBOOK HAS CHANGED THEIR PRIVACY SETTINGS ONCE MORE!!! DUE TO THE NEW “GRAPH APP” ANYONE ON FACEBOOK (INCLUDING OTHER COUNTRIES) CAN SEE YOUR PICTURES, LIKES, AND COMMENTS. The next 2 weeks I will be posting this, and please once you have done it please post DONE! Those of you who do not keep my information from going out to the public, I will have to DELETE YOU! I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. I post shots of my family that I don’t want strangers to have access to!!! This happens when our friends click “like” or “comment”… automatically, their friends would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it that way. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (DO NOT CLICK), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS” (also without clicking), then down to “Settings”, click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on “LIFE EVENTS” and “COMMENTS & LIKES”. By doing this, my activity among my friends and family will no longer become public. Now, copy and paste this on your wall. Once I see this posted on your page, I will do the same.

I have seen posts similar to this before that were labeled a hoax, so I decided to do some research and see what I could find. I went to Snopes and then after that, I also did some more digging. (Because as much as I love Snopes, I have on occasion not found their answers to be completely satisfactory. Not always, but sometimes….)

Snopes had an explanation of the warning and showed here that it claimed to be a mixture of true and false.  While the concerns are still there, it states that performing the steps within the instructions left on my friends status won’t actually fix anything, but they will hide some results FROM YOU.

So how can we actually go about doing something of value that will FIX this?  Snopes cites a security site, Sophos, for their answer.

What happens is this:

1. You have “friends of friends” or “public” as the privacy setting for your posts.
2. One of your Facebook friends comments on your post, or clicks “Like”.
3. As well as all the people commenting on the thread seeing what has been posted (this much is normal), Facebook also tells all *their* friends what was said.
4. Your friend’s settings *cannot* stop this from happening, *your* settings can protect your friends’ privacy, in this instance.

What do they suggest?

* Stop using the “Friends of friends” setting. This is what is broadcasting so widely.

* If you use the “Public” setting, explain that you are doing so. Then people can decide if they want *all* of their friends to be informed of their comments.

* “Limit” all previous posts you have made via the privacy settings (unless you had “friends only” or specific lists already) – this will change everything to “friends” only and will stop people you deleted but did not block, people who sent you friend requests that you ignored, and friends of friends from seeing your activity (yes they can, if you are not on “Friends” or lists).

* Use lists to decide who you want to see things (use the privacy controls in the top right of your posts).

* Encourage your friends to restrict their setting to “friends” or custom lists too. This is the important bit.

* Inform strangers or the connecting friend when strangers show up in your feed. It is their settings that made them show up. This will illustrate to them why they also need to change their settings.

They wrap up their article by saying this:

Still baffled?  Don’t worry.  The problem is complicated to explain, but the solution is simple.  If you want to stop strangers from seeing everything you do, you and your friends need to change your privacy settings to “Friends” or custom lists.  That’s it.

The hard part is getting your friends to do it.

If you find your friends aren’t understanding the issue, forget about explaining the details and “copy and paste” this to your status:

"If you don't want your actions broadcast to everyone via the ticker/News Feed please set your privacy to "Friends" and ask your friends to do the same.  Pass it on."

 

Now, finding a solution, or a potential (hopeful!) solution to this issue wasn’t enough for me. I’d seen the lower portion of the original status update before, but had never seen anything on the Graph App. So I thought I’d look that one up.

It seems that (for some of us who have been busy working and unable to keep up with the daily changes to our privacy put out there by Facebook) a new app has been developed which will, once again, mine your information that you’ve put on Facebook. It’s a Graph Search. Your friends can search “Favorite movie” and it seems that you (and all of their other friends) can be collated to one big graph showing whenever you’ve mentioned a movie. You can see more about the new Facebook Graph Search at Geek.com and here at Business2Community.com . Both articles explain more but unfortunately, neither one gives a fix. Basically at this juncture we need to wait for someone to figure out how we can plug this security hole.

I’ve got to admit, all of these security issues with Facebook are beginning to feel a little like watching someone cut off your finger while saying “I’m sure that there’s an ambulance around the corner will get here to help at some point.” A good friend pointed out to me recently that my anger over Facebook privacy issues was misplaced. I of course, got indignant at that but then he said “You’re viewing it like a consumer. You’re NOT a consumer or their customer. YOU are Facebook’s product.”  But I think that concept might just be another blog entry…

-Lori Twichell is the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing, Radiant Lit and Fiction Addict. She co-hosts Christian Work at Home Ministries radio with her partner, Jill Hart. Lori’s guidance, mentoring and advice have been featured in articles and relied upon by film and television production companies, authors, actors, speakers and corporations.