Understanding Facebook Privacy

Jessica Heimler




With Facebook consistently rolling out new features and subsequent privacy settings, many people may be unaware as to how to best protect their online information. This article, which appeared on February 6, 2013 in the New York Times. The article suggests four questions to ask yourself so as to best be able to format your privacy settings. First is “How You Would Like To Be Found.” It gives tips on how to disable search engines from linking to your facebook timeline and how to determine what the privacy settings are for something posted by a friend. The next question is “what do you want the world to know about you?” It urges readers to reconsider including seemingly harmless pieces of information, such as gender and birthday, which can be exploited by hackers. The article also identifies online tools which can identify pieces of information, such as profanity, and gives you the option of deleting it from your profile. Third asks “do you mind being tracked by advertisers?” and explains how to remove targeted advertising from your homepage. Finally, the article asks “Whom do you want to befriend?” and asks readers to carefully consider who they create connections with over Facebook. It identifies two more pieces of software that can prevent a Facebook friend’s actions from displaying pieces of your own information publicly.


This article is an important read even for those who think they have a good handle on Facebook’s privacy settings. The new version of Facebook, released this past December, will allow all users–including strangers–to search for pieces of information such as what you do and where you go. It is imperative that users know how to protect this information in the best way possible.