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LTS answers Facebook privacy questions

Published: April 23, 2010
Section: News


There are more than 400 million users of Facebook, more than 40 percent of those users are between the ages of 17 and 24. The average user has 160 friends and is connected to 60 groups, pages or events. With the number of those over 40-years old using facebook growing, just how do students protect their profiles from being seen by administrators, professors, employers and, worst of all, parents?

Library and Technology Services has recently had an influx in questions regarding Facebook privacy. Students were curious about what can be seen when they are Googled and how to protect themselves further.

“The answer depends entirely on how an individual has configured the privacy settings on their Facebook account. University administrators have no ability whatsoever to override an individual’s Facebook privacy settings,” wrote Dennis Devlin, chief information security officer, in an LTS blog.

He added, “Brandeis Information Security strongly recommends that every Facebook user explicitly configure their privacy settings to reflect their individual preferences as to how their information is made available to other Facebook users. When in doubt, it is always safer to be more restrictive with what information you expose on Facebook.”

Facebook has three privacy settings, “Everyone, Friends and Friends of Friends” they recommed that information which will allow people to find you easiest such as your gender, location, about me and status be available to everyone. They also recommend that more private information such as your political views, religion, photos and videos only be set to “Friends of Friends” and that your entire Facebook page should only be viewable by people you’ve added as “Friends.”

In a recent addition to Facebook you can now add your “Friends” to specific group categories you create. This feature allows you to select what conversations, status updates and overall activity each of your friends can see by allowing your activity to only be viewed by certain groups of “Friends.” You can do this by clicking the lock icon next to any post you make on Facebook.

Overall, do not make your default picture anything you wouldn’t want anyone to see. Set your settings by going to account, privacy settings, and choose what works best for you.

Always remember though that just because you’ve added a friend doesn’t mean that they don’t log on and view your page with other people around them that aren’t your friends, or worse walk away leaving the computer open for a stranger, administrator or person you’ve been saying mean things about on your wall to walk up and see it, so be careful what you post.