If you're still freaking out about your privacy on Facebook, it may no longer be a great idea to still be on Facebook. Yes, the privacy settings are robust. And yes, the company does actually seem interested in protecting your privacy -- even if for no other reason than dodging bad PR.
But look, with 1 billion click-happy users and a frothing mass of advertisers mining data, you just kind of have to assume some risk with anything you share. An expectation of privacy is no longer a social norm. Or, as Mark Zuckerberg once famously said, an expectation of privacy is "no longer a social norm."
He runs Facebook.
Anyway, so when Facebook rolled out its Graph Search this week, many observers quickly shouted privacy protests, fearful the Facebook-scrolling super-search will surface all sorts of content its users never thought would be found by some random dude in Russia. Zuckerberg and Facebook engineers repeated several times that search results will only include items that have been shared with you or are publicly viewable.
Timeline: 11 moments that made Facebook
Which is good. Very good. Certainly. But it will still make it much easier for anyone to find that content. Just ask Vikas Vadlapatla, who unintentionally landed a featured role in Facebook's Graph Search presentation Tuesday.
I got featured in the Facebook keynote today for the search term, "single male in SF from India." Thanks for looking out for me,Facebook! :)
— Vikas (@vkux) January 15, 2013
Whoops. Now in fairness to Facebook, Vikas had clearly set his relationship status, hometown and city as "Public". But before Graph Search, to find that info about him would have required several clicks. And likely, that you were looking for him specifically to begin with. But not anymore.
Facebook facelift: Your profile is changing... again!
So even if you don't normally get all oogy over your Facebook privacy, you might want to double-check just which photos and what information about yourself you have set as "Public". Don't be a Vikas.
And there's one easy way to do this, which just requires six quick steps.
1. Cut a hole in a box. (juuust kidding)
1. Click to your Privacy Shortcuts. It's the lock icon in the upper right, near your name.
2. Select "Who can see my stuff?"
3. Then click "What do other people see on my Timelines? View as".
4. The default view for this is "Public". Things anybody can see -- your birthday, shared articles, location. Anything you don't want out there, take note.
5. To make any basic info private, go back to your profile.
6. Click the "About" box and switch the visibility settings with the appropriate "Edit" button. Unselect "Public" and replace with whichever other option you want.
And there's also a way to easily review which of your many, many photos are public. In most cases, they're your cover photos or profile pics -- as well as anything you intentionally set as "Public". To check it out...
1. Go back into your Privacy Shortcuts.
2. Select '"Who can see my stuff?"
3. Then click "Use Activity Log".
4. Click "Photos" on the left bar.
5. Toward the top of the page where it says "Shared with:", select "Public".
6. Any of the photos that pop up which you don't want public can be changed by clicking that particular photo and then editing its settings.
A couple quick solutions to beat back any creepiness brought on by the Graph Search. On the plus side, you'll never be accidentally included in a Facebook presentation covered around the world. However, you also will never be accidentally included in a Facebook presentation covered around the world.
Follow Jonathan Anker for more Facebook news and tech stuff @JonFromHLN