10 Things I Learned About My Facebook Account This Weekend
I have two Facebook accounts. One is set to PUBLIC as my professional “open Facebook”. It is linked on my blog sidebar. I have another Facebook account for my personal connections with close friends and family.
Facebook has been in the news and under the microscope this month. We have learned of the calculated Russia hack via a chaos company called Cambridge Analytica which was used among other things to influence our national consciousness, incite hate, and sway our elections. We have watched US Congress grilling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with renewed concerns over Facebook information breaches, cyber privacy attacks, and the rampant sale of our personal data.
I have been seriously weighing whether it is time to quit Facebook.
On the other hand, I also take seriously the charge by living prophets and apostles to use Facebook and other social media platforms for Sharing Goodness with the world.
At a time of great darkness, great light is always needed!
And so, I’ve decided to wait and see if the benefit of keeping in touch with my close friends and family, and spreading light and goodness online, MIGHT outweigh the risk.
I have also resolved to take a much stricter approach to what and how much I share, and rethink who I’m sharing it with.
This weekend I took a closer look at my personal Facebook page. It was eye popping. I’m not a cyber security expert, but here are some things I discovered.
#1. SEE WHAT OTHERS SEE – CHECK YOUR PRIVACY
Currently, on the top right hand side of your page there is a box that says “View Activity Log”. From the drop-down menu you can choose to “View As” public, and see what anyone in the world can see.
This was enlightening. Even a bit frightening.
***When you are in “Public” mode everything you are seeing is what anyone in the world is seeing.***
I spent over 2 hours on Friday “housecleaning” my personal Facebook.
I learned a lot of things. For instance, I thought that I had been very diligent about keeping my settings on “friends only” for all of my posts and photos. However, Facebook has created several loopholes on certain things to automatically post as PUBLIC. It’s sneaky – arguably unethical. This is the Facebook M.O. and how they make BILLIONS of dollars. We are being profiled so that we can receive targeted advertisements. Sadly this also allows cyber stalkers, and other nefarious entities to mine, sell and misuse our information.
#2. Cover Photos & Profile Photos Are Public
The photos we choose for our large “cover” and our small “profile” are always automatically set to PUBLIC.
It ispossible to change any of your profile photos to “friends only” but you must click each one separately and change the privacy setting by hand.
Cover photos (those large banner photos at the top) are ALWAYS PUBLIC. The top photo that you currently have showing is PUBLIC ONLY and can NOT be changed to “friends”, however, any other past Cover Photos canhave their settings changed to “friends”. (You must do this manually for each photo).
**NEVER make a private photo – such as a family group photo – baby photos, wedding photos, etc…your COVER photo unless you are OK with the entire world seeing it, copying it, sharing it and even using it for advertising.**
#3. Tagged Posts & Photos Are Not Private – “Review”!
Most photos you are tagged in with other people can be seen by ANYONE. You can take some control by removing your name tag from photos that others tag. You can also change your privacy settings to allow you to “review” posts first.
Go To Your SETTINGS
In your privacy settings choose that anything tagged is showing to “only me” first – this is a REVIEW FIRST option before you allow it to post on your page.
#4. Turn Off Facial Recognition
In your privacy settings you you will see a vague reference in small print to the creepy cyber Facial Recognition program that continually runs in the background of Facebook. It is currently referred to simply as “photos that look like you”.
You want to turn that off by choosing “No One” in the drop down.
#5. YOUR PAST WILL HAUNT YOU
I was unsettled to discover that everything I had posted before 2012 was auto set to PUBLIC. I also discovered that most everything between 2008 (the year I joined FB) through 2011 was set to PUBLIC with NO WAY to change the setting.
#6. Public Site Comments and Photos Stay Public
Any Comments that we ever make on a PUBLIC page (such as a product review, a fan girl-ing post on a celebrity page, or sharing of a photo to an event page, etc.) is PUBLIC and the privacy setting cannot be changed. Therefore, if you don’t want this comment or photo to show in your permanent e history, then you must DELETE the comment/review/photo.
#7. Know Who Your Friends Are
It’s often been seen as a “status symbol” to see how many Facebook Friends someone can gather. But… who are these people… really?
Over the next few weeks I will slowly and methodically start analyzing my “friends” list and winnowing it down. Apparently, I currently have 3,809 Friends on my public Facebook, and I currently have over 800 friends on my personal FB page.
Whoa. That’s a bit ridiculous.
My Public blog Facebook is designed for the public. I am happy to “friend” anyone that isn’t abusive. But, there is no way I have a close relationship with 800+ people on my personal page. Several of these people are vague acquaintances I never see or speak with in real life. I even have some “friends” on my list I have never met in person. We probably rarely (if ever) communicate on FB, and based on Facebook’s algorythims, we probably do not see each other’s Facebook feeds.
It’s time to delete a few folks.
#8. Be Diligent
In light of the federal hearings last week Facebook is bound to make a few changes. However, I personally do not believe any changes will be based on putting their users safety before their pocketbook. I believe they will simply make it harder to detect what data they are mining from us, and how they are circumventing our privacy attempts.
I suggest that once per week, we do two things –
check PUBLIC mode (see #1) and decide if everything you see is something you wouldn’t mind a hacker in Russia or a cyber stalker to see.
check your PRIVACY settings (see #3, #4) once per week. Be familiar with the info, and expect changes.
#9. NOTHING ONLINE IS PRIVATE
We know this, right?
We’ve all seen enough stories surface about something posted, then quickly deleted only to be publicly distributed – or, something shared as “private” that went viral. Anyone can find and see anything. Anyone can copy and save your photos, share them via email or on their social media sites, screen shot your posts, track past histories. If there is something you are posting that you don’t want a particular person(s) to ever see or read… Push Pause. Assume they WILL see it and read it.
#10. FACEBOOK Has No Serious Competition … Yet
This is the conundrum. There’s so much good about being socially connected with people we care about and rarely get to see in person. We also connect online with people we DO see regularly but still want to share details of our lives with each other.
Do we NEED to do this to survive? Honestly, no.
Studies have even shown humans can be generally happier if they do not have a Facebook account!
And yet…all things can be used for good as well as evil. Social media is a part of our daily lives, and our culture. It has grown far beyond a simple addiction of watching cat videos and virtually “poking” each other.
Currently, the vast majority of people are still found on FACEBOOK. This is the lure and power of FACEBOOK.
Despite the vast potential for abuse by Facebook – and clear evidence of cyber attack – there are still no governmental regulations and oversight. Based on how things went last week with Congress, I don’t have much confidence anything is going to change any time soon.
There are some other options; Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat & WhatsApp … all carving out their unique niche. Of course, these platforms come with their own problems and risks.
A lot of people closed their Facebook accounts this month. In the near future, we may see a greater exodus. I’m not ready to leave yet, My page is on high alert. I’m proceeding with caution. But, I’m hopeful I can still use this technology for GOOD.