Do you understand your Facebook privacy and how you are exposing yourself on Facebook?
You’re about to make a post on Facebook. Do you know who all would be seeing your post? Do you know how things can go horribly wrong?
I’m not talking about Facebook privacy settings and whether “friends of friends” can see your post. I’m talking about people who you are connected with on Facebook, and what they can see.
Here’s a quick guide to help you manage your Facebook privacy and avoid regrets later…
Your Facebook Friends, Your Facebook World
Do you still remember when you first started out on Facebook? You had no friends. Then you found a few of your real life friends on Facebook, and you became Facebook friends with them. Not long after that, you started getting all kinds of friend requests. Some of them from people you know, others from friends of friends or people you met briefly somewhere.
Soon you had a list of a few hundred Facebook friends. Some of them you know well, others not so well. These people became a part of your own “private little world” that you created on Facebook.
Managing Your Facebook Privacy & Exposure
Who Sees What You Post on Facebook?
When you post something on your Wall on Facebook, you expect that your friends will see it. That is true, but not necessarily the whole truth. Here are all the people who could see what you post:
- Friends you know well. These are the people who you intended your post for.
- Friends you don’t know well, or in some cases, not at all. Yes, they’re also part of that “private little world” that you created on Facebook.
- Potential employers. Many employers are asking for access to applicants’ Facebook accounts as part of the job application.
- The government and law enforcement. Yes, they submit data requests to Facebook, get subpoenas from the courts, or even hack into data systems, as was recently revealed in the press.
What Does All This Mean To You?
It means that your Facebook post could end up in the hands of people that you never intended. If you are not careful about what you post on Facebook, it could come back to bite you later. Your Facebook privacy is not as secure as you think!
How Could It Come Back To Bite You?
There are a lot of things that you can post quite safely on Facebook. However, some posts could come back to haunt you.
Here are some examples:
- You rant about a private family matter. Now your family is angry at you, not for stating an opinion, but because you did in public. Your friends see your poor judgment and decide that you can’t be trusted with personal stuff.
- You announce excitedly that you’re going on vacation tomorrow. You get home after your vacation and your place has been burgled. By whom? You don’t know, but it may well have a connection to one of those silent Facebook friends whom you don’t really know.
- You post a few photos from that amazing party you had on Saturday night. You forget about the photos and a prospective employer asks for access to your Facebook page. They see the photo of you half undressed and with a beer in your hand, lying across a few friends. Good bye job!
- You’re angry about something that the President did and you post something that could be interpreted as a threat against the President. Two days later, the police show up at your door and haul you off.
Each one of the above examples have actually happened!
How To Protect Your Facebook Privacy And Avoid Regrets
The quick and easy way to avoid trouble and protect your Facebook privacy, is this… Before you hit that Post button, ask yourself:
- Does this really belong on Facebook?
- Am I admitting to doing something illegal or in poor taste?
- What will this post say about me as a person?
- Can my post be misinterpreted?
You have to think about this every time. If you have any doubts, don’t post it! Protect your privacy and your image on Facebook. You will thank yourself later!
PS. Also see my article on how to Post to Specific Friends on Facebook.
PPS. Do you have Facebook privacy tips to share? Have you ever posted things on Facebook that you regretted later? What did you learn from that? Share in the comments below.