I wanted to write about Apples new iPad this week. But the cacophony of cribbing and almost gratuitous praise made me decide that till I get my hands on it, I wouldnt write anything.
Instead, I will caution you on something that most of us use daily — Facebook. The company recently changed its privacy settings. Users have a greater say on what they want or dont want the world to know. Hitherto, you could look up any user and see the details.
Many of us started seeing a new dialogue box on the screen earlier this month and clicked on either Cancel or Continue without reading the fine print. The latest changes pushed users to share their information even more widely. Everyone was asked to go through a step-by-step review of their privacy settings — like status updates — marked to be open to more people than what users had previously wished.
According to Facebook, Certain categories of information such as your name, profile photo, list of friends, pages you are a fan of, gender, geographic region, and networks you belong to are considered publicly available to everyone, including Facebook-enhanced applications, and therefore do not have privacy settings. However, Facebook points out that with your new settings, you can limit how easy or hard this information is to find. Children are automatically restricted, and allowed to share only with friends, friends of friends and verified networks.
Seeing Twitter succeed with its open data services, Facebook with its new privacy wizard tried to make users share as much as possible. So when you go through the Privacy Settings wizard, be careful. The default do not change anything could leave you exposed.
However, if you ignored the privacy settings wizard, you can still control who sees your status updates, website, education and work, videos, links, photos, About Me, birthday, hometown, religious and political views. It would be wise to uncheck birthday to safeguard against things like credit card fraud, as it is often asked as part of the security questions for your bank, credit card and phone accounts. If you want to keep certain things private, go to Settings (between your name and Logout on the top), then Privacy Settings and make the changes there.
Often, you may not want everyone to see the pictures you have posted. To deactivate this, you will find the option under Privacy Settings—Profile Information.
Your choices for privacy settings are: Everyone (including Google and other search engines), Only Friends, Friends of Friends and Customise. The Customise option allows you to include or exclude particular networks like schools or causes or groups you have joined. This is helpful if you want to exclude co-workers or some groups you have recently joined from certain photos or videos.
Photos: Profile photos were part of Facebooks new privacy changes, as they were made public by default under the new policy, but you may select different privacy settings for each of your photo albums, photos and videos youve been tagged in by selecting Privacy Settings from the main drop-down menu and selecting Profile Information.
Some of the worst privacy breaches can happen when your friends share information about you on Facebook. But, there is a way to control this. Go to the Applications and Websites options under the Privacy Settings menu, where you can check or uncheck boxes, which lay down your policy for allowing your friends to publish information about you on Facebook. Again, depending on your professional, friendship or familiar preferences, this is a chance for you to become popular online. Or else you can choose to remain invisible.
Of course, you have the option to delete the account altogether in Settings—Account. But I suggest you do not do this. Its like committing digital suicide. For, Facebook is a hugely popular utility with over 350 million users. I have caught up with many long lost friends, made new ones and formed important networks. Its very useful, after all.
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