The world population is steadily climbing to the seven billions, and 800 million of these people are on Facebook. For every witty status or helpful picture, it seems, there are dozens of individuals who choose to post frivolities riddled with grammatical and typographical errors.
The presence of such remarks is perhaps not surprising. As Albert Einstein said, “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.” When surfing the Internet, however, the extreme consequences that can result from one misstep are easily forgotten.
“I don’t think anyone knows all of their Facebook friends,” junior Nikki Hudson said. This sentiment is expressed across the board of Facebook users; adolescents often view their Facebook friend count as a popularity contest. But, by adding those friends-of-friends, one releases private information into the mainstream. Fortunately, numerous ways to ensure that Facebook does not minimize one’s social standing present themselves.
The Privacy Game
Hidden in the top right corner of the home page lurks a single arrow-shaped button. After a click, it reveals a drop-down menu, prominently displaying “Privacy Settings” as its third option. These settings provide the most prominent tools in battling improper privacy on Facebook.
The “sharing on Facebook” options are vital to information protection. Blocking statuses, photos and videos from everyone but friends will prevent strangers (or unfriendly peers) from sneaking through one’s data. One can also change these by clicking the small gear button below the status update bar.
Another classic pitfall: photo tagging. Selecting the “tag review” choice will enable users to approve pictures of themselves being posted, to avoid the common pitfall of logging in to view “morning after” pictures of activities that should not be made public.
Facebook stalking is a phrase typically called upon to refer to the usage of Facebook as a tool to monitor the behavior of others. Such behavior clearly presents certain dangers. Sometimes, however, this transfer runs both ways, and Facebook returns the “stalking”favor.
Logging into Facebook installs “cookies” onto one’s computer. These cookies are identification files saved onto users’ computers. However, even when one closes the site, the cookies remain.
Facebook additionally stores numerous pages of personal information. Up to 800 pages log any and all notifications received, friends deleted, events attended and more. Temporarily, this storage provides little cause for concern, but the allocation of public users’ private information may be seen as a privacy invasion.
Profiles Are Immortal
Like math homework, summer vacation or a can of cola, online accounts must come to an end. However, users wishing to end their social networking life early may find that they are only permitted to “deactivate” their account— closing their information to the public, but still storing it on Facebook’s server.
Further exploring the deactivation screen may reveal a message attempting to guilt users away from leaving: several pictures of friends are shown, with the caption “(friend’s name) will miss you!”
Permanent deletion of an account must be approved on an individual basis, at a different screen.
Removing one’s social profile entails jumping through numerous proverbial hoops. In other words, information on Facebook shows all likelihood of being permanent. The easiest way to be wary of this privacy weakness? Avoid releasing personal information such as cell phone numbers, addresses and passwords.
Facebook provides ample opportunities for extending social connections. It also presents certain privacy dangers. With habitual care and effort, however, anyone can surf this precarious turf without giving in to the sharks.