The hugely popular social networking site, Facebook, makes it easy for you to stay in touch with friends and family members, regardless of geographic distance. You can keep up with news stories, new music, your favorite businesses, and upcoming events. The service is free to users, so cost poses no barrier. With all these advantages though, you do give up a degree of privacy, and not all users are aware of these privacy concerns.
Super Cookies Used to Track Users Visits to Other Sites
Although most regular cookies are considered harmless, Facebook users should be aware that the social networking site uses something called “super cookies.” With these super cookies, Facebook can track your visits for 90 days to other websites. Facebook claims it uses this information to improve users’ experience by allowing the site to target ads according to the account holders interests. Some privacy experts are concerned that Facebook could sell this information to third parties. If you are concerned about super cookies, you can remove them.
Deleted User Information Retained
Users who delete their Facebook accounts may feel that they have taken a step to regain some privacy. They should, however, be aware that although they have deleted their account, Facebook still retains all their information, including photos and wall postings, so these users are still at risk in case there are any security breaches.
Some privacy experts are concerned about the use of face recognition software and Facebook users’ profile photos. This automatic tagging can occur when a friend uploads a batch of photos. The face recognition technology scans the photos against a database of other photos to find matches, and can automatically tag them. This can happen without your knowledge.
Automatic Passive Sharing
Some Facebook users may be unaware that they are sharing on Facebook when they read news articles or listen to music. Users had the option to opt in to sharing when Facebook rolled out this feature, but many users may have not understood what they were agreeing to.
Ways to Protect Yourself
If your privacy is important to you, you can take a few steps to help protect it. Keep up-to-date on what’s involved in Facebook’s software updates. If you are presented with privacy options, read the descriptions of each option carefully so you understand what you are agreeing to.
Check the news periodically for stories on Facebook privacy concerns. This can help you take action quickly if an issue has arisen.
Review your privacy settings periodically to ensure you are comfortable with them. Settings that may have been fine when you were a college student who was Facebook friends only with other students, may no longer be appropriate when you begin “friending” bosses in your workplace.
One of the best ways to help protect yourself is to not post anything, even to a close group of friends, that you would be embarrassed about becoming public.