Thursday, April 29, 2010

Step by step: Get your privacy back on Facebook - Updated with the latest April 28th 2010 change with "Instant Personalization" and "Friends, Tags and Connections" menu

Update 29/04/2010: Facebook has just changed AGAIN the privacy settings. I'm not talking about the Instant Personalization option which was rolled in April 21st, but a slight change in the privacy menu and specifically with the new sub-menu Friends Tags and connections. I will try to change later the screenshots to reflect that change.

I guess you have been on Facebook for a while now, and you've seen the change in Facebook's privacy settings in February and December 2009. Now with the release of the OpenGraph things are changing again.

I am making this post specifically because of 2 persons who are not the least tech-savvy, but who ran into trouble by letting there previous (pre-2008) privacy settings stay the same for the last 3 years. After sending them the following screenshot, I thought it may apply to other people as it's probably clearer than my previous post.

Hopefully, in the 6 following steps, you'll get the Facebook YOU want it to be and not Zuckerberg & Co's "open" community (open, as in show your whole life publicly no matter your previous privacy settings).  So here you go!

1. First today's "magical and revolutionary product", the  "Instant personalization" "feature":
Instant personalization allows other websites to access your profile. If you want to cancel that function here is what you should do, go to and uncheck the box.

2. Applications & Websites privacy option:
Indeed, if you read what's written at the bottom of that page it says:
Please keep in mind that if you opt out, your friends may still share public Facebook information about you to personalize their experience on these partner sites unless you block the application.
So go to this page and uncheck all the boxes about the informations that you don't want other websites to know about you, because if a friend of you goes to this website, it can store the following information about you.

3. The general privacy settings:
Now the funny part that changed in December 2009, if you haven't changed your privacy settings since then, you probably have them "reset" to the state bellow, that's what happenned to my brother and sudenly he had his whole profile open to the world to see.

When you work long hours in a highly demanding job, you don't have the time to tweak your profile every now and then, and that's something that Facebook does not (want to) understand. So here are the changes that should be made in order to get a little bit of your privacy back :
 And you should tweak the settings for photos and videos that people tag of you as follow in order for you not to have anyone tagging that photo, you know, THE one that you don't want your ex, your boss or even your mom to see: Update: it's now in the following 6. section that you can change this settings

4. The search settings:
Now that you have done that you should also think about who do you want to be able to find you on facebook and on Google (or other search engine). Do you really want the HR department of that shiny new firm that you applied to be able to check your "background"? Do you want to be found by random people on Facebook or other colleagues and then to have to exaplain why you did not want to add them? You cannot run all the time on the famous sentence "oh, I don't check my Facebook very often, I forgot to accept your friend request" or another one of the same flavor, so go to :
By default Facebook wants everyone to find you and enjoy "socializing" with you:
But if you don't want to end-up like this poor girl (I think) who lost her job because of trashing her job and forgotting that her boss was able to look at that (if your profile is not set properly as previously in the general privacy settings, all your status updates are visible by ANYONE on the whole web!)...
It's the same thing if people can find you on Facebook or by Googling you, so personaly I did the following:

5. Your friends list:
You should also change how your friend list is displayed to your friends/friend of friends/Everyone as follow: Update: it's now in the following 6. section that you can change this settings

6. Update on April 29th: The new Friends, Tags and Connections Privacy sub-menu:
Here is the latest in Facebook "get back to default i.e Everyone" privacy settings... I'm really thinking about switching my Master's studies to get a degree in a "Master's in Facebook & Social Media"! ;)

So here is the new default settings that I just saw this morning in the new Friends, Tags and Connections Facebook settings that controls the tags you get and the new "like" button on partners websites

 You better change them if you don't want your aunt, your mom or whoever check that you love drinking from the Keg, or that your future employer see that you changed jobs 10 times in the last 2 years, or even your guys friends know that you clicked on like for the movie "the notebook" (I don't have anything against it, just an example ;)

Here you go! I'm not sure that I covered everything, I just hope that you'll take advantage of this tweaks and that you'll follow this posts for future updates regarding Facebook's privacy! Actually I really think I should do a "Master's in Facebook" (perhaps from University of Phoenix! ;) or create a dedicated website for this crazy ever-changing privacy settings, layouts, Terms Of Services etc...

Please just take the time to share this page to make sure people know more about how your seemingly innocent activites on Facebook can have a huge impact on your life (professional & personal) and that you have the tools to make sure you "control" to a certain extent what goes on your behalf on Facebook and the web in general...

Goog luck!

PS: feel free to tell me if I forgot anything, Facebook's privacy is getting harder and harder to crawl through....

PPS: sorry for the mess, the post was created on April 21st, then posted and updated on the 29th.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Facebook does not allow to create protest pages against the New Facebook Open Graph and Like's identity usage online

Facebook acts like a totalitarian state ;) It does not allow to create a page entitled "DON'T LET FACEBOOK OWN YOUR IDENTITY ONLINE"! Yes, it's not a joke!
I really don't know what to think. I posted a couple of thoughts about what was going on since yesterday and was thinking about writing a blog post later to clarify my thoughts, but I had to post this first: Try to create a COMMUNITY which is by essence a NON-OFFICIAL page as stated by Facebook:

Community Page: Generate support for your favorite cause or topic by creating a Community Page. 
What does this mean? If my favorite topic is "I love Obama" or "I hate Obama" it's ok, right? Indeed it's ok for Obama lovers/haters.

But it does not go this way for Facebook!!!!
Try to create a Community with the topic: "DON'T LET FACEBOOK OWN YOUR IDENTITY ONLINE".
You'll get the following message:
"Our automated system will not approve the name "DON'T LET FACEBOOK OWN YOUR IDENTITY ONLINE" because it contains a word or phrase that is blocked to prevent the creation of unofficial or otherwise prohibited Pages. If you believe this is an error, please contact our Customer Support team."

Sorry Facebook, but that's a cause and a topic, so for me it deserves to be seen as a community page.
I see what you could say: it's Facebook's brand so it might be a breach of trademark or whatever, and even if for ages we were able to see pages like "I love X brand" or "I have Y brand", today is the day where it's not permitted anymore. 

Well, you are right, and even if it feels weird as the community page is clearly to support a cause/subject/topic or whatever as a community, I would understand that. So I ran a little experiment. What other brands are as mainstream as Facebook today? Nike, Microsoft, Cisco, ExxonMobile, Maroc Telecom (lol), Apple, Amazon, Marrakech (that would almost be a brand;) etc... But what main brand is also sometimes associated with "evil" and online identity super-ownership? Google of course! I'd let you run the test aswell by creating the same page for Google and see what goes on...

Ok, you might be lazy! So I did it for you for a couple of brands, and you guessed it right (otherwise I wouldn't be writing that), it passed the "automated system". Proof in picture bellow:
(yes even Doritos! ;)

As I side note, I was able to create the following page: DON'T LET FACEB00K OWN YOU & YOUR IDENTITY ONLINE

Finally, a little piece of advice, If you want to CHOSE if whether you want to opt-out or opt-in into the new Facebook social-web's scheme check your privacy settings at and uncheck or check the last box.