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How to watch your back on Facebook

So, I'm a blogger and that means I've got a nose for a good online cover-up story. And  it started twitching this morning when a post on my Facebook account that I had shared about privacy was suddenly gone...

 The post in question was about adjusting one's privacy settings to make sure that your data cannot be sold via the "Facebook Platform" to advertisers.

It is likely that this removal is the result of zealous privacy enforcement by the original poster - which raises all sorts of questions about the balancing the risks and benefits of openness in sharing personal opinions and information in itself. Or, says the conspiracy theorist in me, Facebook could have removed it because... no don't be silly that's the sort of thing no sane social network would do. 

You don't want to spook the community or they'll be off or at least give you and embarrassing public scandal to deal with...

... after all, look what happened to Digg.  

Anyhow, the gist of the post I shared was that if you have a Facebook account and you don't want there to be the option of your profile information being seen by third parties you need to do the following:

Click on the privacy link on the top right corner of your profile.

Click on the Facebook Platform "edit settings" link at the bottom of the list of options.

Unselect the check boxes against any information that you're not happy to share with people who are not in your network:

Note that Facebook stresses that it does not sell your information...

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't spend some time looking at all of the privacy sections and thinking what they really mean.

And even then - the same rule applies to Facebook profiles as email - don't put anything in there you wouldn't be happy for anyone to see.

I note that there's a good piece in the Observer by Peter Bazalgette about privacy and social networks. He's worried mostly about today's students and the permanent record of their online thoughts and deeds that could come back to haunt them. But as Facebook and other social networks spread upwards and outwards across demographics these are questions we should all bear in mind...


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Hi Ant,

Well for a site that it typically very user-orientated, that page is completely incomprehensible to me. However, I don't think it's a sinister as the original note you shared may have let on. The Facebook platform is the API they expose to make mashups possible but. It just looks to me like the default permissions they're granting there are too broad (or look too broad - I wonder how they compare to what you can see about people not in your friends network on the site itself).

Have you looked at things like www.boredonthebook.com.

Of course it is also possible that they're evil world dominators. Probably in bed with Google... or Ask!

Ask, ye say - I knew they were up to summut...

But I think you're right as usual, Tom. That's not to say Facebook users shouldn't pay close attention to their privacy options...

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