Oh, that meme is going around again. The one where people think that if they post to their Facebook wall that everything is theirs and they own the copyright and let’s name a few laws that that OVERRIDES Facebook’s terms and conditions. It doesn’t. Just like standing up and yelling that your high speed internet will now cost $2/month because you want it to does NOT make your internet cost $2/month. Comcast will keep billing you the regular rate.
One thing seems to be lost on most people, and that is that the biggest risk to your privacy relating to Facebook is YOU. We can break this into three simple factors.
Factor 1: What You Post
Facebook’s privacy didn’t make you post that drunk-at-work picture that got you fired. Or that high-at-work status. Or the thing that made everybody figure out that you were cheating. Or the picture of your new racist tattoo. Facebook’s privacy didn’t make you post those things. You posted them. You chose to share them with a public or semi-public group. You don’t get to blame Facebook for that.
Factor 2: How You Post It
Well, how DID you post the status that made it clear that you were having someone else’s baby? Public? Friends only? To certain people? To a closed Facebook group? This IS in your control. Learn how to use it, and use it wisely.
Factor 3: Who You Friend
Do you have the sort of friends who would send your post to your boss? Your ex? A Cheezburger website? Do you have the sort of friends who will take an original artwork you create and posted to Facebook, steal it, and sell t-shirts with that on there? Then congratulations, the big security breach is in your own house. It’s not Facebook or their privacy or some laws you don’t understand but want to quote.
It’s your own CIRCLE of people.
Step one is clean house. If you are not real life friends with someone, unfriend them on Facebook. If they write to you acting all mad, block them. This is a STRANGER to you. Who cares if their feelings are hurt. Protect yourself. You are exposing what might be personal things to strangers, and why? So you can say you have X number of Facebook friends as if there is a contest? Start removing people you don’t really know, don’t really like, or don’t really trust.
Step two is to learn how to use Facebook lists. These are privacy groups that you can control. Maybe you have a “former and current co-workers” list who is blocked from seeing that drunk pic of you from Friday night. Maybe you have a “clients” list who is blocked from seeing personal info about your divorce. Maybe you have a “family” list who can be blocked from political rantings that don’t match their views.
Facebook does let you say which lists can’t see something, which means you can post a picture or status, and block multiple groups from seeing it.
Protect yourself. It’s a brave new world of knowing a lot about people rather easily. You get to decide what’s out there and who your friends are. Real friends wouldn’t post things with or about you that could hurt your work or personal life. Choose deliberately!