Occasionally, a news story will show up in your news feed that will leave you staring at your computer screen in disbelief. And I’m not talking about the who’s dating whom stories, or what’s going to happen in next weeks Coronation Street. When the headline “Facebook Privacy Controls Ignored by 13 Million Users” cropped up in my Google reader, I genuinely couldn’t believe a word I was reading. Are there really than many of the Facebook population oblivious to the dangers to sharing too much information? Really.
According to the report by Consumer Reports, this is exactly the case, with 13 million Facebook users in the US alone unaware of, or ignoring, privacy settings. Consumer Reports technology editor Jeff Fox had this to say:
“Our investigation revealed some fascinating, and some disquieting trends, but ones always worth knowing for consumers who wish to keep their personal data under better control”
So why exactly to privacy settings matter?
Imagine this scenario, you’ve just moved in to a new house, you’re excitedly snapping pictures of your front door and local to share with friends on Facebook. You organise a housewarming party, and give your friends the address on a public event. Then you plan a weekend away and tweet about ‘how many sleeps’ till you’ll be jetting off somewhere sunny. And while you’re away, someone helps themselves to all your stuff.
Likewise, in the US, if you shared or liked a health condition or treatment information page , this could spell trouble when it comes to getting health insurance.
So how do you lock down your data to keep yourself covered?
If you’re curious, Facebook will now allow you to download all of the information you have stored on the website in one convenient zip file (be careful with this file!) This will no doubt be an eye-opener when you discover exactly how much you’ve been sharing with the world.
Head straight to your Facebook account and click on the ‘privacy settings’ option on the top right. Facebook has made it easy to either bulk protect your content, or customise it as you wish.You can select from ‘Public’, ‘Friends’, or ‘Custom’.
If you’ve recently been thrown in to Timeline, you may want to limit your old posts, which will be a bulk action applied to all older posts.
Also, be sure to keep checking which apps you still allow access to your Facebook data. If you haven’t used it in 3 months, you probably won’t use it again, so it would be advisable to revoke the access.