Facebook, Myspace & Google have struck a deal which allows Facebook statuses, photos and other information to be cached (indexed) by Google. You may have already scanned over a set of terms and conditions over the last three days. If you have there is a good chance that you updated your privacy settings (possibly without knowing the consequences of these actions).
Why Should you Care?
If you have changed your Facebook security settings (to those prompted by Facebook) your status updates, address etc will all soon be found within Google. Therefore if someone searches for your name they could find out where you live, what you have been up to, what you have said / linked to in your status updates etc. If you decide to revert your settings back to private at a later date Google may (overtime) no longer display the content. However other organisations are able to crawl Google search engines with there own “search engine spiders”. They could at any stage capture your data, store it etc. The data itself could be used for credit card fraud, sold it on to third parties etc. If you have already agreed to the changing your security settings you can easily change them back. I will go through how to do so later in this post. If you have not already changed your settings please see the Facebook privacy guide below
Login into your Facebook account. If you live in the UK and you do not see this popup box then you may have already made the changes without consciously being aware of it.
Click on the “Continue to Next Step” button. The next step is REALLY SNEAKY and (I feel) totally unethical. The screenshot below highlights how Facebook automatically prompts users to make changes to their privacy settings. It does so by automatically ticking fields ensuring that the content is viewable to “Everyone”.
If a user clicked on the ‘save settings’ tab (as highlighted in the default screen above) the user’s posts, links and even their address would soon become publically accessible. If you do not understand the above I would recommend ticking all of the “old settings” boxes for each setting on this page. If you understand the above tick the appropriate fields before clicking on ‘Save Settings’.
How to change your Facebook privacy settings back
You will need to click on three out of the four pages to change your settings back. These are: Profile information, Contact information, Search
To view and change YOUR settings Click here & go straight through to your Facebook settings page
Again I feel that Facebook have acted unethically here. They have placed the position of the ‘Search’ link below that of the ‘Applications and Website’ link. The security settings found on the ‘search’ page are far more sensitive then that in the ‘Applications and Websites’ page. (The click though rate generally decreases the further down a user scrolls down a navigation tab).
In hindsight it is fine for Facebook to allow users to publish their details and statuses on the wider web. However Facebook’s covert and aggressive methods seem to bypass morality and common sense. Facebook is a fun platform and strongly interwoven into most our lives. We are therefore slow to question and judge this powerful corporation. The millions (maybe billions) of pounds this move will make Facebook has not yet been disclosed. However I hope that this incident brings to light our relationship with Facebook and further action is taken against them.
FYI – I have decided to set all of my privacy settings to how they originally stood. If Facebook statistics are to be believed 80-85% of Facebook users have allowed their information to be shared across the wider web. (Wired).
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