I just posted this on my Facebook and thought I'd share it with you:
I'm getting a little freaked out by how much information people are making public on the internet. Sometimes, I think we're so excited to have someone pay attention to us that we don't think about EVERYONE that could be listening/reading.
Google has a new program called "Google Social Circles", which is connected to the new "Google Social Search." Basically, Google compiles a list of everyone you contact using any Google-related account (Gmail, Orkut, Gmail Chat, etc). It then compiles a lits of the contacts of YOUR contacts.
On this list, it shows you anything that this person has posted publicly on the internet. So think about this. Imagine you've written an email to your boss once in your life using your personal email. That means you're now on your boss's contact list. Now, if you haven't set all these things to private, your boss can see your Google profile, your Google chat user name and signed in status, your Facebook profile, your Orkut profile, your Twitter, your Google reader sites, any blogs you have, and any websites you've made or commented on using your Google account.
If your boss hasn't made these things private, you can also see these things for your boss.
Because your boss's wife is on a list of your contacts' contacts, she can also see some of this information, even if the two of you have never met.
Is anyone else totally freaked out by this?!
Related to this freak-out is the kind of things I can see on people's Facebooks. Recent example: Bob and Jane got married. I am not Facebook friends with Bob or Jane, but Bob, Jane, and I have some friends in common. Bob and Jane's friend Lisa (who is not my friend) posts a video of Bob and Jane's wedding. Lisa tags some people who went to the wedding in the video. I am not friends with Lisa, but I am friends with some of Lisa's friends. So now, I can see the video of the wedding. It pops up in my feed. Bob and Jane did not invite me to the wedding. Bob and Jane don't even like me. But if I wanted to, I could watch a video of the most important, personal, and special day in their relationship.
I think it's important to know your privacy settings and what information you're making public. Here are my tips:
1. Do a Google search for your name in quotation marks. See how much of your Facebook profile is available to perfect strangers. (This is especially helpful if your name is not too common.)
2. Do a Google search for your email address. Do a Google search for any screen names that you frequently use. See what's public and if anything's worth deleting (comments on a questionable website, perhaps?)
3. Go to your Google Account settings and then your Google profile. Your Google profile is a list of all things you have that are Google-related. Make your Google profile private and delete any information that you don't want to be public. Take things like personal blogs off of your profile. Making your Google profile private will save you a lot of trouble in the new Google Social Groups feature. If you don't use Google Buzz regularly, delete it from your profile. Google buzz is similar to the Social Groups feature in that it shows all of your contacts what you're doing and posting.
4. If you have a blog or blogs, look at your blogger profile to see which ones are available for people to see.
5. Remove your last name from any accounts whenever possible (like Blogger and Twitter, for example)
6. Take the time to read through Facebook's privacy settings. They're tedious, but not complicated. Important factors:
(a) You can make Facebook friend groups. This takes a little while, but will save you a lot of stress and time in the long run. You can give these privacy groups specific settings. So you can make a friend group called "real friends" and give only this group access to things like your wall, your status updates, your pictures, etc. You can also make groups like "coworkers" and block them from seeing things.
(b) You can take your Facebook profile out of Google searches.
(c) You can control who finds you in a Facebook search if they type in your name or your email address. Right now, my profile is set so that if someone searches for me, I only appear if we have friends in common.
(d) Do privacy tests. Type in the names of friends to see what they can see.
(e) Stop showing your friends what kinds of things you like, and stop giving your information to ads. On Facebook, go into "my account", and then click on the last tab: Facebook ads. Where it says "Allow ads on platform pages to show my information to..." change it to "no one".
Another option is to just stop typing out and publishing every personal detail about your life. Think twice before you talk about how drunk you were last night. Think twice about saying what you were doing during the day if you called in sick to work. Think twice about taking quizzes like "What is your best sexual position?" and publishing the results to your profile. Think twice about who you accept as a Facebook friend and who is still on your friends list. Think of it this way: If this person wanted to come into your house, read your diary, and look through all of your photo albums and your phone book/ planner, would you let them? If not, do you need to be their Facebook friend? Or, could they be in a more private friend group?
Is anyone else freaked out? Anyone else have any similar stories of inappropriate things they've seen? Anyone else have any other tips on how to make your information more private? (Anyone know more tips about Twitter? I don't use it.)
I'm not one of those conspiracy-theory, the government-is-out-to-get-you types. I just think it's way too easy for the wrong person to stumble upon something that they're not supposed to see.