No general privacy laws protect everyone while online. Social media allows people to connect
in new ways. It also allows people to deceive others online in new ways. The lack of online
privacy laws becomes critical as privacy becomes more of a concern to users. Who on occasion
become victims. Facebook, Instagram and other social networks continue to change what is
considered private, and what is considered profit. If you do not monitor your contributions
to social networks, everyone from your employers to scam artist can access critical data about
The new Facebook Graph Search is latest offering that has users taking a new look at their
social media settings and habits. This powerful search engine capable of revealing and
uncovering detailed information about you, your friends and total strangers. Did you think
about the consequences when liking and linking a page? Have you gone back and looked at
photos and posts from years ago and what they may imply about you now? Facebook allows you to
hide personal details from their services, but this is neither easy or complete. The only way
to avoid your information from showing up in Graph Search will involve changing the privacy
settings on everything you share, comment on, and like.
Facebook treats your profile picture and cover photo as public information. By default, your
status, photos, posts and bio can be viewed by everyone. If you never change your settings,
this information is completely public. You can limit how people can find you, but pictures can
still be found directly through name searches. Facebook will never be complete safe from
hacking or viewing by unauthorized people.
Never publish very sensitive personal photos or photos with minors that could be used
improperly. Facebook’s privacy options allow you to select an audience for all posts and
photos. Clicking on the lock icon in the top of the Facebook screen and change the settings
under “Who Can See My Stuff?” You can also modify these settings for each post you make. Pay
close attention to bosses, parents, and offspring. Set permissions carefully. If you choose
the “friends of friends” level of security for certain content, you are trusting content with
people who might be perfect strangers.
Do you monitor your activity log? You can access your activity log by clicking the Activity
Log button under your cover photo on your timeline. Friends may tag you in photos they post.
This activity will appear in your log even if it doesn’t appear on your timeline. If you
don’t like the tag your friend has added, you can choose remove the tags at the top of the
This does not remove the photo from your friend’s timeline, however. If you feel the photo is
truly abusive, as opposed to simply embarrassing, you can report any photo by clicking on
Report This Photo in the Options menu at the bottom of the photo.
There are other ways to protect your Facebook account and data. You can enable login
notifications, so you will know when someone uses a new device to access your account.
When accessing Facebook using public WiFi, get a one-time password by sending the text “otp”
to 32665. Regularly review pages that you have liked, apps you’ve given permission to, and
pages you follow. Remove any that have become unimportant, unused, or embarrassing.
Recently, a free tool called “SimpleWash” (http://simplewa.sh) launced to help you clean up
your Facebook profile. It comes with a pre-compiled list of words (you can also add your own)
that may be considered offensive or alarming to those viewing your social history. The hosted
software ill perform a search and return results in chunks that make it easy for you to review
Whether you use the growing number of tools and apps, or whether you check everything
manually, remember that the only person responsible for your Facebook data is you. Being
proactive and prudent is becoming the new social media skill everyone must master.