Securing Your Profile in Facebook — Part 1 of 2
By Cynthia Hetherington, Hetherington Group
Cynthia Hetherington has more than 15 years of experience in research, investigations and corporate intelligence. She is a consultant for Thomson Reuters and the founder of Hetherington Group, a consulting, publishing and training firm focusing on intelligence, security and investigations. Visit Cynthia on Twitter.
You are well aware of the benefits of using Facebook as an investigative tool, but are you certain that you are securing your personal Facebook page with the maximum privacy settings? Facebook makes it challenging to keep up with your privacy controls. The privacy policies change often and there is extensive information published regarding the settings. Reading through and interpreting all of the information is time-consuming and many users simply ignore it. You must ensure you are protecting yourself and your exposure by regularly reviewing your Facebook privacy settings.
Some may choose to not have a Facebook account for fear of having privacy comprised; however, you cannot conduct thorough investigations without searching one of the most popular social networks on the Web today. In order to search Facebook, you must have an account. Also, in order to see what your family and friends and saying about you in Facebook, you must have an account.
Facebook privacy settings
Keeping up with Facebook’s ever-changing privacy settings can be a daunting task. Here is a step-by-step guide for controlling your Facebook privacy settings based on the information you, personally, feel comfortable sharing. The settings you choose will control which people and applications (or “apps”) can view your Facebook content. You can choose to share with everyone, just friends, friends of friends, or you can specifically customize which people and apps can see your information. The policy of Facebook is to have your name, profile picture, gender, networks, and username available to everyone because they feel this information is essential to helping users to connect with their friends and family.
Basic Facebook terms
Many settings have the option of “friends only.” For example, when you select “friends only,” you are agreeing that only those on your Facebook list of friends can view that particular content. As for “friends of friends,” according to Facebook, these individuals “are people who are friends with your Facebook friends. This privacy setting makes it easier to share things with relevant people in your community without having to make them available to everyone on the Internet. For example: Maggie, Jill and Grace go on a skiing trip, and Grace posts pictures from the trip. Maggie wants to share the album with her mom, but Grace isn’t Facebook friends with Maggie’s mom. If Grace chooses to make the album available to ‘Friends of Friends,’ Maggie can still share it with her mom on Facebook.” There is also the option of “only me” for many settings. This means you would be the only person who can view that particular content.
What does it mean if everyone can view content you have posted?
Facebook’s help center states, “When you share or publish content to ‘Everyone,’ that means anyone on the Internet is able to view it. This includes people who are not your friends on Facebook, and people who are not in your school or work networks. You should use this setting to publish things that you are comfortable making open to anyone. If someone can see something you published to ‘Everyone,’ this doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to view all information on your profile. What people can see when they go to your profile is determined by what your different profile privacy settings allow.”
What is an application/app?
Facebook explains that applications “are designed to enhance your experience on the site with engaging games and useful features like Events and Photos. Some applications are built by Facebook developers, but most applications are built by outside developers who use Facebook’s APIs and abide by Facebook’s Developer Principle and Policies. Applications on Facebook allow you to play social games with your friends, remember friends’ birthdays; share your taste in movies, send gifts to friends, and much more.”