Maintaining control over privacy settings is a required and critical technology task for each Facebook user. Since sharing information is one of Facebook’s primary missions, the company wants to collect and share as much personal information as possible with its advertisers. Facebook sets most new features to share data then when they first debut on the site, and to be fair, social networking is all about sharing information. Thus it is up to each individual to determine just how much information to put out there, making conscious decisions about what the world can see, what close friends can view, and what to keep private.
Our children and their friends are enthusiastic Facebook users, but they do not always focus on the need to pay attention, on a regular basis, to privacy settings. I’ve written many privacy posts on this blog including Getting Serious About Online Privacy and Keeping Track: Adolescents in the Digital Age, pieces that focus on the importance of maintaining family privacy when individual members engage in so many digital activities. Knowing the connection between many social networking sites and advertisers — and the impact it has on a user’s privacy — is critical for everyone, but especially for teens.
Understanding the power of Facebook, the posted images, the advertisers, and all the apps is a type of media literacy — and we all need to develop the ability to take charge and define ourselves rather than letting various types of media do the defining.
Unfortunately, even when users do understand the need, Facebook makes the process convoluted — requiring a person to go to different parts of their profile and account sections just about every time some new bell or whistle arrives on the scene. On my account I’ve needed to adjust these settings multiple times over the past twelve months as Facebook adds features and makes changes.
Check out the Techlicious guide. Not only does it explain what do — handy images illustrations provide extra assistance.
Note: You may also enjoy the story, posted on my other blog, of how my amazing mom, age 83, got started on Facebook. Read Yes, Grandma is on Facebook.