Facebook is NOT, by it’s very nature and model, a private platform. That was never the idea behind it and if you really want to have a conversation that remains completely private you’re better off using the phone (cough, maybe not) or popping round for a coffee. Two sugars and milk? Biscuit?
Rule number one of online privacy (Facebook and otherwise): Don’t post anything you might regret saying. There. That was easy wasn’t it? Sadly, most people don’t follow that rule and there’s an awful lot of ‘regret’ out there.
Bottom line is we have 3 choices when it comes to Facebook;
- make everything we do and say public (that includes ‘Friends of Friends’),
- make it between Friends only (that means only people know, right?) or
- don’t post anything or comment on anything someone else posted.
The “Ticker” and “Timeline” expose just about everything we do and say because of the settings for your posts. That’s it. But not just YOUR settings, your friends’ settings too.
If their post ‘privacy‘ setting is “Public” or “Friends of Friends” then any comment you add is likely going to be visible via the “ticker” by people you don’t know (the ‘Friends’ of your ‘Friend’). You wanted to let your friend see your comment (and, typically, not worried about YOUR friends seeing your comment) but in all likelihood countless others (strangers) will see your comment too.
Hence option 3; don’t post anything and don’t comment – EVER! Then your thoughts remain private. End of.
I didn’t mention the ‘Only Me” setting because that is daft, isn’t it? What’s the point putting something online if only you can see it?
The main thing to remember when commenting is this (nicked from Facebook’s help pages so I quote it correctly): your comments and likes are only visible to people who can see the original post.
In a nutshell, that sums up what you really need to have in mind when using Facebook. But posts (status updates, photos, videos come with different ‘privacy’ settings, don’t they. What do these settings mean and how do they affect your comments (and likes)?
Public Posts (anything with the little globe icon); if you comment on anything with the ‘Public’ settings your friends will be shown the comment via the ticker and everyone on Facebook (except anyone you’ve blocked) can see it, too.
Friends (anything with the little ‘two heads’ icon); if you comment on a ‘Friends Only’ post then your comment adopts the ‘Friends Only’ privacy setting which means there is no exposure of your comment to strangers via the ticker (unless you have thousands of friends, in which case you have invited countless strangers along for the ride anyway).
Custom or Friends of Friends (now we’re in ‘iffy’ territory). That little ’gear’ icon can mean only a ‘select’ group of friends (a list) can see the post (a ‘targeted’ post), hence ‘Custom‘ or all the Friends of the person who posted and all the friends of everyone who comments… Sort of.
Custom is documented by some as being “safe” because your comments will only be seen by a select group and strangers won’t be seeing your comments via the ticker. But, hang on, surely we won’t know who is in that ‘Custom’ list so we won’t know who sees the comments in the ticker… All we know is that only the targeted group will see it. But will we know who is in that targeted group/list?
Confused? Yes, me too.
Friends of Friends should be considered the same as public (you do not know who will see your comments) as all your friends and all of their friends could see your comment in the ticker.
PS: To find out what that little ‘gear’ icon means on each post, hover over the icon and the settings for the post will pop up (as shown in the example above).
Facebook Privacy in one Paragraph
You control the privacy of everything you post to Facebook using the privacy options on each post. When you comment or like something of someone else’s (or your own), the comment or like will adopt the same privacy settings as the original post. If you aren’t comfortable with ‘who’ might be able to see anything you ‘say’ on Facebook; don’t say it, don’t post it, don’t share it, don’t comment on it or like it.
Got 5,000 Friends?
Oh, one more thing; if you have thousands of friends then you have strangers observing your every move anyway. Nobody ‘knows‘ thousands of people well enough to call them friends and, as such, privacy went out of the window when your ego got too big and you became obsessed with the ‘numbers’ game so, for you, there is little hope of any privacy whatsoever.
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