Facebook–terms of your privacy
February 8, 2009 | By Damon Armour, IT Security Officer (Shannon Nix, concept contributor)
Facebook is a website used for online social networking. Facebook's company profile states: "Facebook gives people the power to share and makes the world more open and connected. Millions of people use Facebook every day to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet." Facebook's appeal is its ease of use and flexibility. Many people across campus are using Facebook as a way to communicate not just with friends/family at Augusta State, but globally. The more people utilize Facebook, the more information they are feeding the service about their individual tastes and preferences.
Much of the information being fed to Facebook is of a personal nature. Our activities and conversations are captured within the portal for others to see and experience. Individuals can limit connections to only those they approve as friends. Yet with any form of personal knowledge, there is the risk of abuse. Nick O'Neil at http://www.allfacebook.com/2009/02/facebook-privacy/ has put together a great set of privacy tips to help protect your personal information. This article highlights some of those topics. Everyone is encouraged to visit his site to get the specifics including screenshots.
Many of us are familiar with creating groups in an email address book. Your friend list within Facebook can be set up in a similar fashion. The advantage of the grouping is to set up separate privacy levels to ensure a friend doesn't see a side you might not want to share. A great example is the spread of workplace acquaintances and activities an individual partakes in outside of work. People like to have a line drawn on what is office water fountain discussion and not. Another topic covered is the removal of your account from Facebook search results and those that are published on search engines such as Google. Limiting the scope of your privacy leak can provide some piece of mind.
Nick O'Neil also provides suggestions on how to use photo tagging so that an embarrassing photograph isn't picked up and spread quickly. Because most cell phones contain cameras, protecting your personal privacy in pictures is key to avoiding an embarrassing moment. The last point from the article that I want to highlight is that of protecting your contact information. By limiting contact information to the appropriate friends list you will help keep your contact details safer.
Facebook has its own terms of service (http://www.facebook.com/terms.php) that you agree to when you sign up. Terms of service (TOS) have been a hot point recently with many credit card companies, making adjustments that are one-sided and not customer friendly. Facebook recently made an adjustment to its terms of service that gave the appearance that even upon removal of your account, your information was still available for Facebook to use. Privacy advocates, national news, and of course the blogosphere organized and questioned the language of the terms. Facebook attempted to explain that it was not using personal information for profit. After enough negative news was in the wild, Facebook decided to remove the offending language and reverted to the former TOS.
Additional information related to the Facebook TOS changes can be found at