How private is your Facebook account?

Facebook (Image Credit: Neeraj Kumar)
Facebook (Image Credit: Neeraj Kumar)

There goes an “ancient” saying that states, “if you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see or hear it, neither say nor do it.” But in the age where our actions or words are only truly validated through social media, it is best for you not to post it. This is especially true for Facebook.

Being the oldest child of the social media family (Myspace doesn’t count) Facebook has tweaked its site so that it has become more and more specialized, and in that way more private. There are certain features that allow users to set their profile to private, allowing only friends to view specifics such as photos and posts. For those who have opened their profile to the public, there are still settings that can make some of the content on their page private. However, let’s be honest – nothing on the Internet is completely private. Which in that case, gets us to the main point: how private is your Facebook really?

People set their profile to private for many reasons: they don’t want to be so easily found by bunches of old high school or college people they used to know, they don’t want their great aunts and uncles (or any family members for that matter) stalking their page, or for the greatest reason of all, they don’t want future employers to see them drinking a pitcher of beer while dancing on the bar top last Saturday.  While all these reasons may make sense and at first glance seem like a good idea, let’s be completely clear, your Facebook profile is not that private!

To be perfectly honest, my cousin in fourth grade can figure out some obscure way to get into your “locked vault” of Facebook content. And for the most part, aside from the typical senior citizen who has trouble with new technology, most people like employers will have no problem finding you and opening your profile quite easily.

This isn’t to say don’t make it private because everyone you wanted to keep out will find out anyway, but just be aware that the settings you have on there are really only to make you feel better. Many people don’t even have anything to hide, they have their page set to private just because. But for those who tend to live on the “wild side,” take down three small tips about how you can avoid the spotlight.

The more friends, the less privacy

It used to be in middle school, that the more friends you had, the more popular you were. And while that kind of sticks with you when you get older, there are negatives that come with a huge circles of friends. Your initial friends on Facebook, are your friends that you connected with from high  school and college, and colleagues, then there’s a group of friends that you aren’t quite sure where you know them from or if you know them at all. Be mindful of this. In this circle of life, there is always someone who knows someone else, who knows someone. When one person knows about your dirty little picture that was snapped of you on Friday, everyone knows. They don’t even have to be friends with you to hear about it or see it.

Some memories are just that

Not every memory that was frozen into a polaroid needs to be shared with Facebook or any social media site. We’ve all been quick to upload a picture of us doing something completely questionable or insane just so people know what we’re doing, but it isn’t really necessary. Best solution is to post a status instead. Example: “my night >>>”

Own It

If you have a wild side and like to get a little crazy from time to time, just own it! As stated before, eventually someone is going to catch wind of it, so might as well take charge of what’s already coming your way. And in the case you decide to own that Facebook brand of yourself, who needs the private setting, go public and shock them all.

Remember, nothing in this digital world is private. It may take time, but someone will find a way. In regards to your Facebook, the settings might say private but in actuality it’s just a thin wall standing between you and the people you’re hiding from. For some this doesn’t even matter, you could take your profile off private today and nothing would change. But for those that have something worth hiding, try to look at those tips. Oh, and always remember your grandma.


Image courtesy of Neeraj Kumar
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I am an undergraduate student at Syracuse University, studying magazine journalism in The Newhouse School. I love discussing music and movies as well as capturing street art and unique fashion styles.

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