Once again, Facebook is updating its Terms Of Service as of January 1, 2015. In the Facebook Newsroom, it’s explained that Facebook wants to put more control in the hands of its users to determine how much of our information we share and with whom.
In the last couple of weeks, many people were taking to Facebook to post a declaration of sorts to state in no uncertain terms that they, and they alone, own their information posted on Facebook and no one (shaking fist) shall be entitled to share this information or (heaven forbid) copy it. The only problem? Posting this type of status is useless.
So what can you do to make sure your privacy settings are set according to your comfort level? Let’s start by going through your profile and what you should be checking.
Access your settings to see how they are currently configured:
Having your future posts set to public means anyone including those you are not “Friends” with can see what you post. Edit this to “Friends only” to tighten controls on what is viewed publicly.
Using the “Activity Log” is very helpful and allows the user to screen and approve all posts and pictures in which people attempt to “tag” you. This means unless you approve a specific post or picture it will not appear visible to your network, only the original poster’s network. Therefore, that less-than-flattering image of you at the company holiday party need not be broadcast to your own social circle on Facebook.
Using Facebook’s Activity Log is the best filter out there for what you want to let be seen by your audience. With this feature, you do have the power to approve those posts you wish to be made available to your network of friends, and deny those posts you wish to be kept off your timeline. A very handy and effective tool.
When it comes to knowing what you do and who you do it with on Facebook, the Activity Log knows all.
Another great way to view your profile is to look at how Facebook presents your profile to the public. This option is available as well under the Settings tab, under Timeline and Tagging Settings. It’s worth a look.
When it comes to the MOBILE APP version of Facebook, this is where is privacy can become tricky. Mobile phones come equipped with Bluetooth, wifi, and geo-location capabilities. Even when apps are turned off, some of them can be “working” in the background essentially tracking your whereabouts. For instance, if posting a picture to Instagram and you choose to “Add to Photo Map” geo-location services are being utilized for this function to complete.
With Facebook’s new Terms Of Service (TOS), the opportunity to connect with your friends when you’re out and about will become that much easier thanks to geo-tracking in the app. When your friends check-in to a location and they are near you, the app will send you a notification. An article from VICE gained a great deal of attention this week when it claimed this feature could not be turned off, but the article corrected itself and said this feature could be turned off within the Facebook app. What should not be forgotten, however, is if you have an Android phone, or location services turned on your iPhone, you and your phone are already being tracked. The concern with Facebook doing the tracking is how they will use this information. Will it fall into the hands of the NSA or US government? Maybe. Will it be used to attract more advertising dollars and raise profits at Facebook? Definitely.
As for who owns your content on Facebook? You do own your content but Facebook still owns the platform. They own the data about how you use Facebook, what you post about, the demographics about who you share your information with, and they in turn use these demographics and psychographics to better target you with ads, and entice advertisers to spend more money with them to reach audiences that fit their target market. As for owning content, there is nothing that keeps people from stealing things off the internet all the time–Facebook and your photos are no different. This is always a possibility.
While these TOS continue to get more invasive and nosy, social media and geo-tracking are not going anywhere. The best tip to remember is to not put anything on a social network (or email) that you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard tomorrow.