Facebook Privacy & Security Tips

With all the hoorah surrounding Facebook’s May 2010 privacy changes and new policies, I thought it would be a good idea to collect all the hacks I know of together to keep your personal info as secure as possible!

Facebook Privacy Scanner

ReclaimPrivacy.org brings a nifty javascript applet based scanner that will evaluate your privacy, and where you can tighten it up.  Be forewarned, however – it doesn’t work on all browser/OS combinations. (eg, my friend Ron couldn’t get it to work on Win7+FF3.6 or IE8)

This little baby actually takes care of 95% of potential personal information security issues.

Facebook Privacy Settings Map

The privacy settings are really spread out and difficult to find in many instances.  The New York Times has a map to help track them all down.

AdBlockPlus Hack

Lifehacker points out that if you’re using FF with the AdBlockPlus addon, then you can also prevent third party sites from knowing that you’re logged into facebook using some custom filters.  The process is very easy, no need for the techno-unsavvy to get jumpy.

***UPDATED 2010/05/21***

Interests & Activities Linkification Leaks Your Info

A few weeks ago Facebook made interests and activities into links to either existing or placeholder pages.  Now when you edit lists, you’ll notice that they’re listed as ‘Friends’.  I don’t know about you, but most of my privacy levels are set to ‘Friends only’.  So this will give access to your ‘Friends only’ data thru these pages – a huge privacy gap!

bunnusmac from The Consumerist has a good, if exhausting, work around:

“I simply created a list for ‘Groups’ and placed all groups and interests into that list. After that again went to privacy settings and instead of “just friends” I went to custom and added the list. So my settings are currently. ‘Only Friends; except groups’.”

“Instant Personalization” Possible Even After Opt-Out

There are several third party Facebook apps that can access your personal info via your friends that haven’t opted out!  So you have to go to each of these app’s Facebook pages and explicitly select the ‘Block Application’ link under their profile picture.  You can find a list of these apps in the ‘Help Center’.  This list may grow, so you may want to check back on it once in a while.

xkcd - Infrastructures

***UPDATED 2010/05/25***

The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook

I found a fantastic interactive graphic of how Facebook’s privacy policy has changed what information defaults to public sharing from 2005 to 05/2010.  It’s from Laurel Russwurm’s comment on techi.com’s “Facebook vs. Canada. It’s about to get ugly”.

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Copyright Tyler Style 2015. All rights reserved.

Posted 2010-05-19 by Tyler in category "Hacks

About the Author

Totally a geek engineer type - I like to think, tinker and make things go BOOM! I'm also pretty introspective, and enjoy analyzing most things around me and talk about them (often to exasperation). I don't do much pop culture in general, and don't own a TV - give me lively debate with another inquiring mind instead any day of the week!


  1. By samandiriel on

    Some massively unsurprising news from the Wall Street Journal – Facebook caught sharing secret data with advertisers:


    “The practice, which most of the companies defended, sends user names or ID numbers tied to personal profiles being viewed when users click on ads.
    Advertising companies are receiving information that could be used to look up individual profiles, which, depending on the site and the information a user has made public, include such things as a person’s real name, age, hometown and occupation. “


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