In August of 2008 I wrote a blog post on how to adjust your Facebook privacy options within your friend network – this is still something I would suggest reviewing on a regular basis. (Mashable has ‘lists’ as their number one tip for Facebook users.) More recently, however, Facebook has changed the information distributed OUTSIDE of your immediate friend circle and network. I would strongly suggest taking a few minutes to make sure you are fully aware of what information you are sharing and encourage friends and family to do the same as they can often contribute more information on you to the public sector than you do yourself.
Keep in mind that Facebook is not the only company tracking information – ISPs, cellular carriers, Tivo, Google, and numerous others track and mine data for various reasons. Perry Hewitt had a great observation over Twitter, “have sneaking suspicion that anything in 1s & 0s ends up public”. It’s true – whatever you do online can, and most likely will, be recorded.
ReclaimPrivacy.org – The tool will scan your Facebook settings to alert you of potential areas of insecurity you might not be aware of.
Mashable’s “In Defense of Facebook” has more information on Facebook’s privacy changes, user concerns, and what you should know.
Need more proof for why you need to check your settings? Here are a couple sites exploiting privacy holes in social media: YourOpenBook.org highlights public status and makes they searchable (“drunk prom” is the common recommended query) and PleaseRobMe.com highlights Twitter users posting about their away-from-home statuses.
*Quick note, a close friend (who doesn’t use Facebook, Twitter, or FourSquare) had his house burglarized in Westford, MA. on Monday while he and his wife were at work. Online privacy settings are important, but locking your windows is crucial!