What I’m Doing With My Facebook Account

This week, Facebook launched a massive change which will allow them to link in to the whole web and the web to link to them. Not the whole web, of course, but most of it. Unlike under the old Facebook Connect system, this will allow partners to store user data for longer than the original 24 hour limit. They’ll also be able to pull in more info about you from your profile.

This has led some people to delete their Facebook accounts entirely (the Web 2.0 Suicide machine is pretty awesome and this wikihow article is straightforward). Others, like me, are re-evaluating how we use Facebook.

I like Facebook. I like it for what it was originally because I thought that was needed. It’s a great place to see what your friends are up to. It’s a great place to share photos and links and videos. I’m going to keep using it for that. It’s the best thing we have right now. But I’m taking precautions.

How I’m Paring Down Data Shared by Facebook

This is what I’ve done so far for my own account.

1) I’m logging out of Facebook whenever I’m not actively using it.

Remember Facebook beacon? It posted information on purchases people made on Facebook partner sites while logged in. Now in one of the steps below I opted out of letting Facebook partners draw my data to customize their sites…but something could change and I want to stay ahead of it. Being logged out is safest.

2) I’m paring down my actual profile.

Facebook groups are fun but they’re rarely useful. I’m saying farewell to them all because they’re just not useful. Even “Moi, je parle français, je suis donc légalement meilleur(e) que vous !” I stayed in one group that I’m actively using for a local offline group. I unliked all pages except one that brings me some information I can actually use. I changed my birthday to keep it from being displayed, even by month & year (I don’t need Facebooked birthday wishes, or birthday wishes at all).

3) I removed all applications.

I had gone through a while back & taken out most of them anyway, but this time I was *snicker* ruthless. As ruthless as I could be, considering… (sorry, it’s the one name joke I get to make). Geek Girl Camp walks you through it in your Application Settings.

I removed everything with the little “X” by it, everything I could remove. I limited the rest to my friends.

4) I edited what my friends can share about me.

Some of the things friends can share about you (like photos & videos) is harmless. Unless they’re incriminating…in which case you shouldn’t put them up so people can share them in the first place. Other stuff, like my birthday, I don’t want shared. I ended up unchecking everything. To control what your friends can share about you, go to Privacy Settings -> Applications and Websites and edit “What your friends can share about you.”

5) I unchecked “Instant Personalization.”

In Privacy Settings -> Applications and Websites, I’d been automatically opted-in to “Instant Personalization.” This means that if I happened to be logged into Facebook (as I am right now since I’m going back & forth between writing & checking stuff like this on Facebook), any partner site would be allowed to pull my information and personalize itself.

6) I didn’t link my Facebook & Twitter.

That’s not nearly as big a problem as some of the other issues, but I chose not to do it. Among other things, I don’t want everyone I’m friends with on Facebook tweeting at me.

With all that gone, what can I use Facebook for? The same thing I’ve really been using it for all along. Posting status updates, commenting on friends posts, seeing what people are up to, sharing photos & videos. And keeping in mind that they still might share anything I put on there.

So that’s what I’m doing with my Facebook. Are you deleting yours? Jumping on the new possibilities?

Edited to add–I love this post on the Electronic Freedom Foundation about Facebook’s eroding privacy policy which shows a time-line of how changes were made. I joined Facebook as soon as it opened up to my school (which was 2005 or early 2006, I think), so I’ve been on board for all of these changes…and I remember the way it used to be.


  1. Amy says:

    I had adjusted some privacy settings, but after reading this post, I think I’m going to go tweak some more things.

  2. […] friend Ruth summarized her feelings on it pretty well, and coming from a different perspective. And that’s cool, it […]

  3. Ruth says:

    I found it took a couple rounds to catch everything.

  4. Squawkfox says:

    Looks like I need to adjust my settings. Grumble.

  5. […] this year, I basically shut down my real Facebook account. I still have it, but just for relatives and even then I almost never login. Unfortunately, […]

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