Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The dark side of Facebook

Everybody and their dog has an account on Facebook today. But do you take enough care to ensure that your data (photos, posts and the rest) remain as safe as possible?

Facebook as a social media platform serves more as a photo album for most people these days. But the sad part of all this is that people do not have control of what's posted on the internet. 

In the movie Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg's then girlfriend Erica Albright says

The internet's not written in pencil, its written in ink.
People should understand the seriousness of this point. When you post something on the internet, it is almost always impossible to remove all traces of it. Do a Google search of your name and see for yourself. 

Everyday I see so many people upload photos of everyday happenings. Men, women, dogs and cats alike. How secure are these photos? How much control do you have on who sees and doesn't get to see these photos? Not much. But you can ensure it is as safe as Facebook allows you to be. 

You ask me why you have to care about taking the effort to make changes to your privacy settings on Facebook?

Take a look at this page: One of the million ugly pages on Facebook This is just one of the so many pages that share photos of women that are publicly available on Facebook, rate them, discuss them and post obscene comments about the women whom they don't know all this without the knowledge of the respected girl. You could be happily uploading your picture showcasing the new pretty dress you bought for your birthday, which would then get shared across the world for perverted men to discuss things about you in public. Please go report abuse on that Facebook page, you'd be doing good to someone's sister/wife/girlfriend.

Try not to upload a lot of personal photographs. Getting 'likes' and comments praising you are of course internet validation metrics, but definitely not at this cost.

I'd like to list a few things that you can follow to ensure that your photos on Facebook are protected:

Use Facebook's privacy settings. They provide you with options to control right from the person who can message you to the persons whom you can completely block.

This can be found by clicking the 'lock icon' found in the top right corner of your Facebook page.  If you click 'Who can see my stuff?',  you'll see something like this:

Make sure you change the 'Who can see my future posts?' to 'Friends' or choose a list of people if you've created one such list already. If you click 'Use Activity Log' you can see what all you've done on Facebook. Right from the posts you 'liked', to the comments you posted and also the posts you hid from your timeline. This cannot be accessed by anyone but yourself, use this to check and monitor your own activity.

If you click 'Who can contact me?' you'll see something like this:

I suggest you choose the 'Strict filtering' option unless you care about messages from people you do not know. Also the second option helps you choose who can send friend requests to you.

If you want to block someone, make use of the third option. You'll see something like this:

If you click 'See more settings' you'll be taken to this window where you can alter setting concerning tags, posts, timeline and how others see your timeline.


As a thumb rule, ask people before uploading their photos. Even if you're changing your display picture which has someone along with you (man, woman, dog, cat doesn't matter) ask them if they would mind. It is polite and would avoid unnecessary trouble.

Remember the following:

1) Your cover photos are ALWAYS PUBLIC. You are not allowed to change the visibility settings of your cover photos so as much as you can, ensure you don't upload photos of yourself or your friends which you do not want to be shared. 

2) Your CURRENT PROFILE PICTURE is PUBLIC. So when you upload a picture as your DP it is by default public. When you upload a new profile picture, you'll see something like this:

Instead of 'Friends' it will say 'Public'. Click on that to change it to 'Friends'. If you keep it as 'Friends of friends', people who are friends with your friends and are NOT your friend will be able to access it. As far as I know, even this is potentially dangerous.

I think everyone who uses Facebook must follow at least these basic steps to take care of their Facebook data, especially photos. Pass this to your friends and family so that they can avoid unnecessary trouble.