Plugged In: Facebook Privacy

We’ve all sat through the lectures and heard the warnings about maintaining proper online privacy, like not giving out our address or phone number, but how many of us truly take steps to keep our information private?

Facebook is hoping that you are, in fact, ignoring your online security. A few months ago they changed the default privacy settings to turn all of your information public unless you had manually updated your privacy settings after activating your account.

What does this mean for us, as high school students? Well, if your phone number is on your profile, then anybody can see how to contact you, or enter your information into a reverse-phone-lookup and find out where you live.

Furthermore, all of your photos and wall are now visible to anyone who stumbles upon your profile.

So, if you post when you’re going to practice or where you’re hanging out with your friends, anybody can see and find out that information.

Now, with Places, Facebook’s new location service that allows you to check in at various locations around town, any of your “friends” can see exactly where you are and even pull up a map with driving directions to your exact location.

Of course, there’s an easy way to keep most of this private – by changing your privacy settings.

To do this, click on “Account” in the top right hand corner of your Facebook homepage and select “Privacy Settings” from the drop down menu.

Here, you can click through to several panels for updating your privacy controls.

Yet, as Facebook has demonstrated, you don’t have full control of any of the information you put on their site. At the drop of a hat, Facebook can make all of someone’s information public, without the user ever knowing it.

The simple solution is to, of course, never post anything online that you wouldn’t want your mother, a college admissions officer, or a creepy person to see.

This includes double-checking your pictures before you upload them, because little things like what your house looks like, your school name, and your license plate can give one person a load of information.

Nobody wants to have to watch everything they say, or not be able to share things with friends, but these are necessary actions for being a safe user.

Share those other things when you’re with your friends.

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