“Privacy Warnings” of one type or another have been making the rounds on Facebook ever since the site first came into existence.
While most of those warnings range from completely worthless to downright malicious, a few of them actually have some merit.
Privacy is indeed a concern on Facebook, but many of us understandably attempt to attack the problem from the wrong angle.
While we can and should lock down the privacy settings on our Facebook accounts as much as we possibly can without cutting our friends and followers completely out of our online lives, the most effective privacy measures take place before we even touch the mouse, keyboard or touch screen.
The key to true privacy on Facebook is being judicious about what we post in the first place.
Even if you limit access to your posts and images to “friends only” and have just one Facebook friend, your “private” information could still find its way out into the wild, wild west of the Internet.
Sure, you might trust that solitary friend with your life (and justifiably so), but he/she is human, and all humans make mistakes.
Without any mal intent whatsoever, your friend might email that “private” picture of your toddler splashing around naked in the bathtub to one of their most trusted friends (we all have them, right?) who in turn emails it to another trusted friend.
The problem is somewhere in that chain of “trusted friends” there might be a friend who doesn’t really deserve the trust that’s been placed in them.
That friend just might take that photo of your naked toddler and share it with some folks (or websites) that will use that image in ways that you never imagined. And once an image is on the Internet, it never, ever goes away.
I’m not saying this to try to diminish the trust you have in your most trusted friends. I’m saying it because trust only applies in regards to intent.
Your friend might have the best intentions in the world, yet take actions that can be quite damaging to you and your family.
Here’s another scenario to consider: Your trusted friend becomes bored at a party and finds a nice, quiet corner, pulls out an iPad and fires up Facebook.
Nature calls while that sensitive photo is displayed on the screen so he lays the iPad down and heads to the nearest bathroom. When he returns there are half a dozen people he barely knows looking at the photo and taking snapshots of it with their phones.
I could go on but I’m sure you understand where this is going. This scenario might seem a bit far-fetched, but similar scenarios happen all the time.
The bottom line is this: True, non-breachable privacy on Facebook is not determined by your account’s privacy settings, and certainly not by the privacy settings of your friends.
If something can be viewed on a computer screen or on a mobile device, it can be copied, photographed with a camera or smartphone and/or shared. There is no setting in any operating system or in Facebook itself that can prevent all of those possibilities.
If you post something on Facebook or anywhere else on the web, there’s a very real possibility of it making its way onto the Internet at large. And there is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent it from happening.
That’s why it’s important to remember that the only things that are truly private on Facebook (and the Internet in general) are the things that never get posted in the first place.
Bonus tip #1: Even those “private” and “disappearing” photos you send on Snapchat can be copied and shared. Read this post to find out why Snapchat is far from private and discreet.
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