Tuesday, 4 March 2014

How to Keep Your Facebook Data Private

Facebook is the most visited website on the planet, and has access to incredible amounts of personal information related to its users. Consider these statistics published by Facebook : 
  • Facebook has more than a half BILLION active users.
  • 50% of active users log onto Facebook in any given day.
  • The average user has 130 friends.
  • People spend over 700 BILLION minutes per month on Facebook.
  • There are over 900 MILLION objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events, community pages).
  • The average user creates 90 pieces of content each month.
  • Facebook users install 20 million applications every day.
  • More than 250 million people interact with Facebook every month on external websites.
  • An average of 10,000 new websites integrate with Facebook EVERY DAY.
  • More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook, including over 80 of the top US websites and half of the top global websites.
  • Over 200 million active users access Facebook through their mobile devices.
It is a given that Facebook tracks every single one of these activities. After all, Facebook's greatest financial asset is the user data that it holds. They have far more information about each of us than our government ever thought about collecting, and they have data mining technology that enables them to slice and dice it and pull out any information they (or their customers) desire.
Simple advice for ALL Facebook users 
  • Check your Facebook privacy settings on a monthly basis. Facebook is constantly revising these, and they often "reset" privacy settings when they update. Even though you think certain information is hidden, it may no longer be so!
  • Either leave your address, phone numbers, etc. out of your profile, or set them to something bogus such as 123 Main Street, Anytown, NY, 12345, 555-555-5555.
  • Never, ever, EVER post information ANYWHERE in Facebook that you do not want EVERYONE to be able to see. This includes friends, family, employers, potential employers, news media, government agencies, people from former relationships, etc. Facebook has become the standard source for information about what a person is REALLY like. A very large percentage of human resource departments will search out Facebook postings for employees and potential employees. What will they find? Would you want your Facebook postings broadcast on the radio, and the photos shown on network television?
  • Just because you think something is "private", or "friends only", do not assume so. As noted above, security settings are constantly changing. What was private may no longer be so. In addition, it is difficult to know what is private and what isn't, and it is impossible to know who Facebook will sell your information to.
  • When posting on Facebook keep in mind that what you post is, permanent. Even if you remove it, it could still be shown on affiliate sites, cached on multiple webservers, etc. Those embarrassing photos of you at a Christmas party may show up years later, at the worst possible moment!
  • If you use Facebook for both personal and professional purposes consider setting up two separate Facebook accounts, with separate email addresses. Do not add your professional and business contacts as friends on your personal account, and do not add your personal friends on your professional account.
  • Because it is so important, I'll repeat this one: Never, ever, EVER post information ANYWHERE in Facebook that you do not want EVERYONE to be able to see. As Facebook Vice President Elliot Schrage stated during a 2010 interview, "If you don't want Facebook to share your personal information, don't share your personal information with Facebook." That statement pretty much sums it up!
The advice above is directed at Facebook, but in reality it should apply to every website that you use. A good example of this is Twitter, where users have the habit of posting everything without giving it a second thought. It is my sincere desire that by following the simple guidelines above you will be able to enjoy Facebook, share with friends, and still keep personal things
Ted Miller, President
AVIK Technologies, Inc.
We manage technology, so you can manage your business!
Ted believes that most organizations, regardless of size, have the same basic information technology requirements. Regardless of whether an organization has five employees or five thousand, they have the critical needs of security, Internet connectivity, file (data) storage and protection, printing, email, backup, system reliability, etc. The difference in IT needs between small and large organizations is primarily one of scale. The need is the same, the size and cost of the solution may not be.
Ted leverages his experience on behalf of his clients by reviewing how large organizations tackle specific technical and business problems, then scales solutions in such a way as to meet the need of his smaller clients while keeping costs under control and aligned with the client's business objectives.

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