Posted December 9, 2009 4:39 pm by

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I think, somewhere in the back of our heads, we all had to know that this was eventually where Facebook would go. Yes, the erstwhile media darling of social networking, so prized because it was so private (unlike that icky old predator-friendly MySpace), has succumbed to the public pull of the Internet—when they prompt you to update your privacy settings now, they’ve already selected a default option to publish your information to “Everyone.”

This change comes as part of the new privacy migration tool, where users get to update their privacy settings as Facebook moves to improved privacy settings. (Or was that improved publicity settings?) It looks like this is the change promised in July to appease the Canadian government’s privacy complaints.

facebook privacy settings

Facebook, it seems, is now jealous of today’s social media sweetheart: Twitter. The theory goes that FB wants people to select the “Everyone” option so that status updates, especially, will be publicly shared, and Facebook will be like Twitter, only better. (Note that, above, the “Everyone” option is only preselected for a few settings, other defaults include “Friends” and “Friends of Friends.”)

At Facebook’s blog post, people are already complaining about the loss of privacy and such features as the ability to hide wall posts, profile pictures and friend lists. (I can’t vouch for these, but several people are complaining about them.)

Users will be prompted to update their settings and are free to return to their old settings or customize the settings however they want. Yeah, it’s not cool that Facebook goes and selects “Everyone” as the default, but if they’re prompting their users to update their settings themselves, and not changing anything until the users approve it, then . . . is this really that big of a deal? What do you think?

  • Frustrated

    I am very concerned about these changes. Before, I had my public profile set to not show my “Friends List” and I also removed the “Add Friend” button, so you were forced to leave me a message if you wanted to connect with me. Now, the Friends List is public (I don’t see any option to make it private), and the “Add Friend” option is available to all my “Friends of Friends” (which I do not want). Also, the “Pages” we are fans of are in public view. This new privacy changes feel more like an invasion of my privacy, since I don’t want just anyone prying into my friend’s list or pages I am a fan of. Why would they change this and remove these important privacy options?

  • So does this mean all newly created FB accounts have everything set to ‘everyone’ by default? I thought this was the case when FB first came out anyway. I think most are aware of the privacy and like to have privacy and going into the settings or wanting to keep some things private is one of the first things you do when you start a FB account.

    Personally – I hope FB doesn’t end up as public like twitter. I use it to connect with my close friends only allowing my friends to see what I have to share. FB is still the no1 social media site going around, so why try and be like someone else?

    Sarge |
    .-= Sarge |´s last blog ..How To Apply A Google Analytics Filter For Quality Results =-.

    • I agree with Sarge about using FB to connect with close friends and allowing only them to see what I have. FB can’t be like Twitter because Twitter is nothing but the 140 you tweet. That’s the power of Twitter.
      Facebook is a broader platform and pushing people to go public will blow up in their face. I want to laugh over my friends photos and won’t be happy with strangers reading what I post sometimes. After all, it’s not for their eyes.

  • i think facebook is struggeling and some how loosing the orienation. with the advance of Jommla open source and their social contents, facebook has no option, but to employ all tactics to keep ervice users entertained…..well, do you agree?
    .-= Tarig´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  • All I can say? I love Facebook, even if it will go public 🙂

  • This is not a good idea, Facebook users might not be happy about this. Sharing your information in public is a big no no
    .-= Pinay Flip´s last blog ..Scrubs Season 9 Episode 3: Our Role Models =-.

  • I… don’t like this. It won’t stop me using Facebook, but I will be changing several settings back to the previous ones – I set them like that for a reason, and I think it’s wrong of Facebook to go through and re-set to a new defaults, whether they prompt us or not to review them doesn’t matter.
    Facebook is not Twitter, and I think Facebook needs to deal with that
    .-= Luci´s last blog ..Does your SEO Campaign take mixed media into account? =-.

  • I’m not sure about this move. To build on some of the comments above, twitter and facebook have evolved differently as a result of their design and function. Twitter and blogs are much more public, and people use them as such. At the same time, users of facebook are much more concerned about privacy because they have come to expect it. I haven’t received my request to update yet, but an option to revert to the ‘old settings’ may frustrate users if they have trouble remembering or accessing what their ‘old settings’ were.
    .-= Matthew Mullen´s last blog ..Top ag blogs and tips for you =-.

  • @Luci—AFAIK, they are NOT changing anyone’s settings. However, when you go to update your privacy settings as prompted, the default selection is “Everyone.” If you change it back to “Old Settings” and save that change, nothing will ever be public.

  • J Bourque

    When I checked mine this morning, my options all had “Old settings” as the default selection.

  • Mine had “Old Settings” selected by default for only one, even though in some cases my old settings were the same as the new ones they were trying to push on me.
    .-= Jordan McCollum´s last blog ..Coupons Fast Becoming Online Faves =-.

  • I went through the questionnaire today. Had me on new settings as default and I had to manually revert everything.
    .-= Anne Moss´s last blog ..The Most Amazing Surf Wave Captured on Video =-.

  • twitch

    The one thing that really pisses me off is that you can no longer hide your profile picture from non-friends that are logged on to FB. Sure, you can make your albums private, but whatever picture you decide to use as your avatar remains public on FB. Any stalker, pedophile, rapist can see what you look like. Before the change, you could conceal your avatar from non-friends. THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE PEOPLE! Why isn’t the media focusing on this?

    If you post a comment on a friend’s page, and they don’t have their settings set to “friends only”, any stranger can follow your conversation. So it’s not just your settings, but what your friends use as settings as well.

    Also, you cannot hide your fan pages. So anything you are a fan of, including political causes, foods, where you work, where you like to hang out, what you like to eat, music you listen to, people or causes you hate, etc…all is made available to any facebook user.

    You cannot hide this information.

    So unless you want total strangers or future employers knowing your political persuasions, what you look like, hangouts, hobbies, etc. then you better delete them ALL.

    Try this. Log OFF on your account. Then enter a few different names in google search, such as “John Doe facebook”. Unless they also clicked “hide friends”, you’ll get a basic map of people’s friends, as well as habits, hobbies, you might even be able to see where they work, location, gender, etc.

    You can also no longer opt out of sharing your info with apps. Even if you have unclicked all the settings on the apps page, your friends may have not and the apps THEY USE have permission to gather your publicly available information (PAI) which includes gender, location, etc…so be careful who you are friends with. I’ve deleted the ones who are addicted to the games…just cannot trust app developers!

  • You are right that you can’t hide your profile picture anymore—but any “stalker, pedophile or rapist” who hangs out at your local mall can see your face unless you walk around veiled (and, IMO, they’re the ones that constitute the bigger threat).

    But you’re actually talking about two different things here. The public search listings you cite have been around since 2007 (and if you want to turn that off so your profile doesn’t appear in searches, go to Settings > Privacy Settings > Search).

    You can still opt out of sharing info with apps as you’ve always done—but just like always, you can’t use the apps if you don’t give them basic access to your profile.

    Publicly available information is just that—publicly available. Did you know that if you own anything taxable (including, notably, a car or property), your state has publicly accessible files that tell your name, your address, your tax bills, whether they’re current and possibly more information? (This works both ways—in most places, you can also find out if there are any registered sex offenders in your area.)

  • twitch

    I am not talking about the indexing. I unchecked the box for public indexing the day the looser privacy settings rolled out. Any person that has a facebook account can see your chosen profile pic. There is no way around it other than to remove your pic completely. Create a secondary proxy account and search your main profile on facebook. Look at the info that is available to random strangers. Know how to control your privacy.

    Any known stalker, rapist, marketer, whoever can search from the privacy of their own home and find things about you, even if you have opted out of public search indexing. This has nothing to do with going out in public.

    Even if you opt out of sharing ALL info to apps, when a friend of yours takes a quiz or participates in apps, they also give away your information. There is no longer a way to block API as they removed that setting from the privacy page.

    There is a reason the ACLU is getting involved. See here. I *urge* you to take this test provided by the ACLU to see exactly what app developers can see about you when your friends take quizzes:

    Know the facts. Go to facebook governance page and look at the people who are outraged. This is a big deal and the media is too slow to make it known to the world.

    Yes, I deactivated my account and am urging my family to do so as well.

  • If this is really about privacy, why shouldn’t we be as worried about offline privacy as online privacy?

    If you had a Facebook account, you could verify that not only was what I told you accurate (since you specifically mentioned logging out and Googling to see someone’s profile, which, as I said, is something different than the present privacy changes and has been in effect for years), but you can also make it so your profile doesn’t show up for anyone’s searches within Facebook. Then no one but your friends (or friends of friends, or friends and networks, the other choices) can see you in search results.

    Aside from what Facebook classifies as publicly available information, you can also control what information your friends share about you with their apps under Settings > Privacy Settings > Application and Website Settings.

    Actually, one of the ACLU’s policy directors, speaking for the organization on this issue said, “If users aren’t careful, the transition tool will transition them to less privacy.”

    Remember that Facebook is a voluntary membership organization. We’re not compelled to join Facebook. It’s not the government. We have kept tabs on Facebook’s privacy systems for years through articles like this one (which, if you’ll look, is a warning already) and continue to help others stay informed with the actual facts, not hype or hysteria—to help users be careful as the ACLU actually advises.

    I think we’re covered.