Facebook is sharing WHAT?

Every now and again I get an email or a Facebook post asking me if it is true that Facebook is sharing X. (This link will take you to all Snopes.com articles on Facebook.)

The recent concern people have is that Facebook is sharing phone numbers and addresses in violation of users’ requests to the contrary.  Sometimes Facebook has made a mistake and reset privacy settings resulting in information a user has marked private becoming public.  This is not what happened during the past few days.  Actually, what happened is that Facebook made some changes in its 3rd party applications that gave the applications the opportunity to see and share your information.  A warning pops up, but let’s face it, no one looks at those warnings.

3rd party applications are those things that enable you to tell people which Harry Potter character you are, or what breed of dog you look like, various games, the sorts of things your friends are constantly inviting you to participate in.  This is why it is so important to be careful about what applications  you allow to access your data on Facebook.

At this point, because of the fallout, Facebook has restored the 3rd party applications back to how they were and is making some changes.  However, this isn’t  the first time Facebook has had an issue with 3rd party applications, and I wouldn’t expect it to be the last.

My advice is to keep this point in mind; a definite, 100 percent certain fact is that if you don’t provide the information to Facebook, it cannot share it.

Don’t Provide the Information

So, if there is some information you really don’t want anyone to ever be able to access it, don’t provide that information to Facebook.  You don’t need to include your phone number in your Facebook account, for example.  Leave anything blank in the sign up process you can leave blank.  You can go back and delete things later if you would like to do so, but sometimes the cat is already out of the bag and the information has already been harvested.  Still, if you are worried, the first thing you should do is go into your account and delete any information you don’t want to be shared in the future.  The cat already got out, but hopefully no one was looking and you can convince it to go back into the bag without scratching your face.

How to Delete the Information

Log into your Facebook account

Click on Profile

Click on Edit Profile

Click on Contact Information

Delete Everything You Can (should be everything but your email address.)

If you are concerned about your email address there is a trick for that too.

Create a secondary email address through a free service such as hotmail or gmail.  Chance your Facebook email address to that new address and use that as your login instead.

You can change your email address on the same page, click on the Add/remove emails link at the top of the page.

Check Your Privacy Settings

Most people never look at their privacy settings once they have set up a Facebook account.  You should take a look at yours and be certain they are as you desire them to be.  You access privacy settings by clicking on the Privacy Settings link under Account.

Here you will see two types of privacy settings

1.Connecting on Facebook
2. Sharing on Facebook

You will be on the Sharing on Facebook page

Click on Customize settings to control what you share with friends, friends of friends and the world at large.

Be sure to click Apply These Settings when you are done.

Next click on View Settings under Connecting on Facebook

In this page you can control various information that is shared with everyone, friends, friends of friends or no one.  Set your controls according to your desire.

Dealing with 3rd Party Applications

Be very careful what 3rd party applications you allow to share your data on Facebook.  Look and see what you are sharing and make sure the application is from a reputable company.

Applications are accessed through the Privacy Settings page as well.

Look to the bottom left of the page for  Apps and Websites and click on the link that reads Edit Your Settings.  Click on it

Click on the X near Remove unwanted or spammy apps

Click on the x to the far right of any app you want to remove

Confirm you want to remove it

You can also control other aspects of apps and what is shared.  Look at the options down the page.

You will notice at the very bottom of the page is an item called Public Search.  This item, if approved, enables people to find your Facebook page through Google.  Make sure it is turned off if you don’t want your page to be findable via a search engine.

It doesn’t hurt to check your settings every now and again; sometimes when Facebook makes a change the settings revert to the default.  This isn’t very common and normally a public warning comes out pretty quickly.

I hope this post has helped you to gain control of some of the issues of concern many have about Facebook.

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