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The New Facebook: How To Take Control Of Your Privacy

Facebook took a huge step toward ubiquitous sharing with its new timeline and sharing features. And it rightfully creeps some people out.

Not everybody wants to share their life story on their profile, see their friends’ activities in real time or have their preferences in music, movies and reading shared as they’re consuming media.

But to Facebook’s credit, it has tread into a new level of sharing with some caution. In many ways, its privacy settings are more accessible. A new private activity log, for instance, allows you to review all past activity in one place to easily hide it from your Facebook Timeline, change the privacy setting on individual stories or delete posts altogether.

If you’re bothered by some new features, however, it might take a couple of clicks that are less than intuitive to opt out of them. Here’s how to avoid three of the new Facebook’s potential privacy concerns.

Your Friends See What You Watch, Listen to and Read

Through partnerships with more than a dozen companies, Facebook has added TV, movies and music. You can, for instance, watch a movie from Netflix or stream a song from Spotify without leaving your News Feed.

The Washington Post has also created “social reader” apps that encourage users to connect with each other around the news from its content partners and discover content from friends. Other publications have built similar experiences.

After you connect to any of these apps, however, they will by default publish your activity to friends’ news tickers. In some cases, it will automatically create a box in your Timeline that outlines the content you’ve been consuming. If you’re not ready to announce that you listen to Justin Bieber on repeat or just finished an article about the top 10 quotes from the season premiere of Gossip Girl, this might strike you as a problem.

How you can opt out: While many of these apps have not yet been released, the good news is that those that have been released seem to provide sufficient opt-out mechanisms. With the Washington Post‘s social reader, for instance, there’s a “Mark as Unread” button at the end of each article that will remove it from all streams.

You can also go to Facebook’s settings page for apps and edit settings specific to that app. You can set the option, “Who can see posts and activity from this app?” to either public; friends of friends and networks; friends and networks; friends of friends; friends; specific people; or just yourself.

Apps Can Share Your Activity Without Asking

With the new Facebook Open Graph, apps no longer need to ask permission each time they post to your wall. Instead, apps detail exactly what type of information will be shared the first time it asks for permission and, after you agree to the terms, can automatically update your profile.

Kobo’s new e-reading app, for instance, will tell your friends when you’re reading and what you’re reading. Nike+’s app will do the same for your running habits.

This doesn’t mean that you’re about to get slammed with a ton of notifications from your friends’ FarmVille games though. Automatic updates will be posted to the news ticker and observable in real time, but the News Feed is still reserved for important events.

How you can opt out: The easiest way to control who can see updates from individual apps is the app setting page.

It’s now more important than ever to read an app’s permission screen carefully before you authorize it, as that permission is not on an action-by-action basis anymore. We’ve asked Facebook whether apps that have already been authorized on your profile will need to ask for permission before they can start posting activity automatically. We will update this article when we hear back.

Your Default Timeline Makes It Easy to See What a Dork You Were

When you get the new Facebook, your Timeline will automatically populate. If you’ve been a long-time user, this means that a whole array of past bad hairstyles that formerly resided on page 30 of your photos are now featured on your front page. Since Facebook highlights friends who were tagged in many of the same photos as you, it’s likely that your exes will be featured prominently too.

How to opt out: It’s easy to delete individual stories from your Timeline by clicking the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner of a box and selecting “Hide from Timeline.” A good way to review all of your past information at once is through a “view activity” tab at the top of the Timeline. This tab is only visible to you and allows you to easily delete or adjust privacy settings for individual stories that have been posted since you began using Facebook.

Your main privacy setting (public, friends or custom) only applies to new posts. Old posts that were not shared publicly will remain private, but if you’ve updated your setting from a more public setting to a more private setting, the posts that were created when you used the more public setting are still public. To restrict the visibility of your entire Timeline in this case, there is a separate setting that you must select. Go to your privacy setting page and select “Limit the Audience for Past Posts.”

via Sarah Kessler, Mashable


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