Facebook privacy — how to protect yourself

Let's face it — Facebook is becoming a significant element in many business' marketing plans.  And with good reason.  As the member mark approaches 400 million — it's hard to imagine an audience that does not have a strong presence there.

It's also a potent tool for establishing your personal brand.

But at what cost?  Facebook's most recent policy changes have people in a panic.  There's more talk about leaving Facebook than I've heard in a long time.  Most of that talk is ignorant panic.  The truth is…most people don't understand the privacy setting and the risks well enough to know if they should leave or not. 

I'm not suggesting that it's not an important issue but I'm guessing most people don't really know how to safeguard against the kinds of exposure we're talking about.  People know they share a lot of stuff but they really don't know who is or isn't able to see it.

So let's add this up.  Facebook, for most businesses and professionals, is someplace we should be.  And, we have no idea if our privacy settings are what we want them to be.  So what do we do?

You go to Reclaim Privacy.  (reclaimprivacy.org)  They've created a browser bookmarklet that will tell you exactly what's going on with your Facebook account AND help you fix it.  All for free.  (God love the internet!)

You simply drag their link to your browser's bookmark bar and then log into Facebook.  Once you're there, just click on the link in your bookmark bar and voila, a window pops up and assessed your privacy settings.  Here's what mine looked like:

Screen shot 2010-05-23 at 2.47.59 PM

It not only told me which areas were secure…but as you can see by the red and brown boxes… it told me when I should worry and when I was definitely not secure.  But the best part is — with a click on the blue boxes, it fixed (or gave me the chance to fix) the issue.

As with most things — there is a happy medium.  Thanks to the free tool from Reclaim Privacy, we can keep using Facebook without worrying about over exposure.  Or without having to be Facebook fanatics who know how to modify over 170 settings located in 50 different spots.  We just need to click the mouse!

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