New York Times: How to Better Understand Facebook Privacy Principles

facebook-privacy-200Facebook’s privacy controls can be frustrating and confusing, and as The New York Times points out, they often have to be adjusted on an item by item basis – as the site intends.

“It’s not about going to a settings page to find some random setting,” Blake Barnes, Facebook’s product manager for privacy, told the Times. “It’s about going to the piece of information you’re concerned about and looking for the control next to it.”

With that in mind, the Times spelled out several factors users need to consider when adjusting privacy settings.

First, it’s important to select the right audience for each post. This means choosing between settings like “Public,” “Friends,” and “Close Friends.” If you share information on behalf of your work, you might want to choose a public setting, but for most private users, it’s best to play it safe and stick with “Friends” only. It’s also important to note that Facebook remembers the audience you selected for your last post, and this is the default audience for your next post. So, if you share something publicly be sure to change it back to ‘Friends Only’ the next time you post.

Second, Facebook users need to remember that any interactions they have with a post on the site are public, and that only users can control the content they post. This is especially applicable for embarrassing photos. If someone else posts a picture of you that you want removed from the site, you’re going to have to ask them to do it. You don’t have a say in the matter.

Lastly, the Times reminded readers that anything they post on Facebook can be used in advertising, and that posts online can’t be truly private because of the very nature of the Internet.

These are basic things to keep in mind when you’re adjusting your Facebook privacy settings, but just because they’re simple doesn’t mean they’re not important lessons to take to heart.

Be sure to check out our complete walk-through on all of the Facebook privacy and security settings.