Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Facebook Privacy Settings and why 25% of us don't use them

Facebook privacy settings... do you use them? Do you understand them? And what exactly can they be used for? It has been recorded that approximately 25% of Facebook users don't bother with its privacy settings at all. Now, is this through ignorance or is it a personal choice? When we live in such a time where outwardly we are very open, how can you keep certain details private, and why is it important to do so?


Facebook, it can be said, are seen as a respectable company on a worldwide scale. They have dominated the social media market and seem to keep up to date with the correct protocol. In short, we trust them. Arguably, a little too much. With 25% of its users not even using their Privacy Controls, it begs the question, are we too trusting online?
We use the site for fun, for interaction and communication, with our friends, family and the pages we 'like'. So when a privacy update pops up it does look like rather boring small print that we generally put off until later. But when is later? And by ignoring this, what are we leaving ourselves open to?

When first signing up to the site there are many options of what you choose, information wise, for the public to see. You would think by making your preference clear at the start it would continue throughout the whole time your signed up. I personally have found, this is not the case. When casually browsing through my settings I found a few times that the options have changed and mine have reverted to a default answer, here I feel I am probably a little to blame...after neglecting quite a few alerts telling me it had changed.

Since Facebook introduced advertising I, along with many, noticed how many adverts were popping up related to recent searches I had done online through other sites. This does seem a little spooky at first but also it is commendable, the site is engineering its ads to suit what you are looking for. Clever marketing skills and I'm sure Facebook are keeping its advertising counterparts very happy with this strategy.

We also every so often get people posting rather aggressive looking statuses banishing Facebook from using any of their personal pictures or content. Does this hold any weight to online security? From research, it seems, that it does not, and how would we know if they were abiding by our declarations anyway? There could always be a tiny loophole in their small print advising if you use their site then your information is open to anyone who wants it...but who wants to read the small print anyway?


There are some pretty helpful sites out there for people who find the privacy pages a little overwhelming. I personally check my privacy settings as regularly as I can, to make sure they are how I want them. I also double check by searching myself online, when not logged in, although this may seem a little paranoid..but I do just want to make sure that my options are followed up.

Online fraud is an industry of its own and behind the fun side of Facebook there is a serious threat of it on there. We have so much information about ourselves, we may think its harmless but it is amazing how far fraudsters can go with just an email address, postcode, date of birth and name. Also, people posting passport photos etc, these can be easily duplicated. I know it sounds a little fantastical but there really is a danger out there.

People are not only using your information to sell on to companies - cue PPI phone calls and thousands of spam emails - but also using photos to create fake profiles etc. Facebook are not completely to blame for all the scenarios that can happen when we put our info onto their site, but I would say a more user friendly privacy page wouldn't go amiss.

Bottom line; read and be aware of what you are signing up to, take responsibility for your own information and then if it does get out - you can point the finger. In the meantime, be very careful what you upload absentmindedly and check your settings as much as possible. The 25% of people not using the privacy settings are making themselves vulnerable online so if you know someone who is on Facebook and not so au fait with it, help them out. A safe, online experience is there to be used, so use it!

How do you feel about Facebook's privacy policy?