In a letter to congress released yesterday, Facebook announced its intention of moving forward with plans to release personal information (phone numbers, email addresses, physical addresses) to 3rd parties. Facebook had actually made this announcement several months earlier, but then backed off implementing the policy amidst public outcry.
The letter from Facebook, written to Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Tex.) states, “We have not yet decided when or in what manner we will redeploy the permission for mobile numbers and addresses,” the letter states. “We are evaluating whether and how we can increase the visibility of applications’ request for permission to access user contact information. We are also considering whether additional user education would be helpful.”
The Daily Shield does not want to wait for Facebook to provide that “additional user education.” It’s easy to limit 3rd-party access to your information. Here are our recommendations:
- In the upper right hand corner of your Facebook profile, click on “Account” and then click on “Privacy Settings”
- You are now on a page titled “Choose Your Privacy Settings”
- Under the heading “Sharing on Facebook,” select “Custom.” This allows you to select what information you will share and with whom.
- Select “Customize Settings”
- This page allows you to decide who can see and comment on things you share, things on your Wall and things you’re tagged in. At this point, what you share is matter of your own personal choice, but we suggest at a minimum that you select “Only Friends,” for information such as Wall Posts, Relationships, Bio, etc.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page and under the Contact Information settings, change the settings for “Mobile Phone,” “Other Phone,” “Address”, “IM Screen Name”, and your email address to “Only Me.”
We at the Daily Shield question the need for even listing information such as your phone number and address on social networks like Facebook. Your real friends already have your contact information, and there is no reason to share that information with the rest of the world. The best defense is not posting your personal information to Facebook at all. The only way to completely eliminate the possibility of 3rd-party applications from accessing your personal information is by not posting personal information to Facebook.
Facebook is a remarkable tool that lets you share information with friends and family. But, it is not a phone book or online directory. Ultimately it all becomes a personal decision. You, and you alone can decide what information you wish to share.
Let’s be perfectly clear. We love Facebook and the power of social networking technology. We at Identity Guard have our own Facebook page, and we use it to pass along information that we consider to be vital for protecting the one thing that makes you uniquely you – your identity. But at the end of the day, each of us has to take responsibility for protecting ourselves. And that protection starts with being constantly vigilant and being careful about the type and amount of information you put out there on the Internet for all to see. Here are some additional tips for staying safe online.
Facebook VP Ellliot Schrage said it best when he commented on a similar privacy uproar last year. He said, “If you don’t want Facebook to share your personal information, don’t share your personal information with Facebook.”
Well said Elliot. We agree. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
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