Facebook allows users to define themselves through its smorgasbord of applications and features: personal photos, virtual gifts and status updates all lend a hand in users efforts to open up and share just about anything going on in their lives. Younger generations, of particularly my own, have come under the Facebook spell and have a tendency to share a huge amount of personal information on sites like Facebook in an effort to open up and connect to the outside world without taking the time to protect themselves. It doesn’t matter whether that info is as mundane and uninspired as what they are eating at the moment or as potentially devastating as an inappropriate picture. Drawing the line and protecting oneself is essential to enjoying Facebook, but how does one go about it?
By creating Facebook Friend Lists and adjusting your privacy settings, people can only view certain aspects of your life. Facebook Friend Lists allow users to label friends for adjustments of Profile Privacy Settings. The user chooses their type of Facebook Friend Lists based on how they use the site, but popular types include “People You Don’t Know,” “Real (offline) Friends,” and “Work Friends.”
Users should adjust their Profile Privacy Settings so that people they don’t know are only allowed to view a little bit of personal information. This is so that potential employers, networking contacts, or old friends who could be looking for you are allowed to get just a little taste of the person you are while still being kept curious about the whole package. This step can be taken by making your profile available to “My Networks and Friends” and your search availability to “Everyone.” Users taking this step will be sure that only their real friends will be able to access personal information.
If you are creating a Facebook Friend List of your “Real Friends,” then you can allow them access to the full version of your profile and reserve such applications exclusively for them such as photos and videos. In the giant mess of a universe that is Facebook, they are part of your exclusive and elite clubhouse. If you are creating a list for coworkers that you consider in-between friends, then you can prevent them from seeing some of your most private features like Photos and Wall Posts. Taking this step can protect you from offending others and can keep yourself from getting in trouble with your employer.
Facebook is a crazy online world that allows for a lot of opportunity. It lets you make and stay in touch with friends, make contact with employers, and gives users, with absolute freedom, the chance to create their own personal brand. But what Facebook giveth, it taketh away. If users don’t protect their profile and the people viewing it, then they can injure their reputation and relationships. By taking the steps to protect one’s privacy on Facebook, you can still expose yourself to others without the risk involved. The Facebook spell will be broken.