Monday, October 22, 2007

Taming Facebook

A while ago I posted an article called "Taming MSN Messenger" to help people bring that piece of software under control. Many times developers add too much to a program, making it unsafe, annoying, and possibly doing things you don't want it to.

Now Facebook has entered the picture, and while it's fun to add all your friends, post pictures, and everything else, it's beginning to raise concerns regarding privacy, as well as relationship issues with friends and significant others. This is my short-list of thing to watch out for and things you can do to make your Facebook life better and avoid some of the problems.

VISIBILITY

Always remember that anything you enter into the Facebook system is viewable by all of your friends. Don't put things on there that you don't want people to see, or that might offend or embarrass someone (yourself included).

Avoid long rants about all the bad stuff happening in your life. Everyone has problems. Share them, in person, with your friends who can help. Don't broadcast it for all to read. Do you hate your girlfriend, boyfriend, co-workers, boss, or job? Keep it to yourself! They might read it on your own profile which can create all sorts of bad feelings.

PHOTOS

Facebook is one of the world's largest site in terms of photo uploads. If I'm not mistaken, it might even have more uploads than Flickr.com. Adding your photos is a great way to share them with your friends. However, Facebook adds a whole new dimension.

You see, Facebook allows photos to be tagged. Clicking on a tag leads back to that person's profile, where you can find another link that lets you see all photos that have been tagged as having that person in them. Where before, you'd have to view a lot of pages to see pictures of people, this allows you to see all of them at a click of the mouse.

And what's worse is that other people can upload a picture with you in it, tag it with your name, and everyone can see it without you even knowing it's there. If you never get your picture taken in which you don't want to be seen, you're all good. But I've seen a few of people at a company dinner or whatever else that was probably harmless, but could give the wrong impression if viewed on its own.

Check often to see what photos have been tagged with your name!

APPLICATIONS

Anyone with a Facebook account knows just how many times you can get requests to add a vast array of applications to your page. Some are interesting, most are useless, and some are outright dangerous. I can't stress it enough... IF YOU PUT AN APPLICATION ON YOUR PROFILE PAGE, MONITOR IT CLOSELY. Just today, we were browsing through some profiles, and came across one user who added the "Fun Wall". Someone had posted a photo which was completely disturbing and the owner of the profile surely did not want such a thing displayed. We sent off a short note, and hopefully it will be removed before it goes too far.

The real problem is that some applications allow other people to add things to your profile page without you knowing. If you choose to use them, monitor it closely. If you don't use it on a daily basis, your best bet is to remove any applications which could pose this type of problem.

FRIENDS

The structure of Facebook revolves around friends connecting with friends. Don't add people to your friends list who are not your friends. This degrades the whole purpose of the program, and exposes your information and potentially that of your friends to people who have no real connection with you. Don't feel bad ignoring a friend request. If you're not sure who someone is, send them a message to ask!

PRIVACY

Log into your Facebook account and click the PRIVACY button at the top right of the page. This is your key to controlling what others see from your profile and actions. Go through each section, adjusting as you see fit. Pay special attention to the "News Feed and Mini-Feed" link. That area allows you to choose what actions will be published in the News Feeds of your friends. Don't want everyone to see when you upload a photo, make a comment on someone's wall, or change your relationship status? Uncheck those boxes!

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3 Smart Remarks:

Anonymous shelley said...

I watched the news on this, it seemed to me the changes they were making were mostly paperwork. I didn't really think it would help much.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Winer said...

Very cool...thanks for the tips, Andrew!

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Nick A said...

Thanks for the info. This helps a lot!!!

4:02 PM  

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