By Mercy McKee
New Privacy Features on Both Sites
In June this year, Google released its newest attempt at a social networking site, Google+; in August, a redesigned Facebook came out with new streamline features and privacy options matching those offered by Google+. In an attempt to offer more user-friendly options, both sites have incorporated some similar privacy options.
One feature both sites have added is the 'View Profile As' option, aimed at making it easier to understand who can see what. For example, if a user isn't sure if a post, such as 'I hate my job,' will be seen by their work colleague Mary, they can click on 'View Profile As' to see how their profile is seen by Mary.
The Status Update box also has new options. Users can now post an update and assign who will see it. Facebook users have the option of 'Public,' 'Friends,' and 'Custom,' which allows users to select specific people, lists or groups to make a post visible to or hidden from. Similarly, Google+ allows users to choose which social circles to post to: 'My circles,' 'Extended circles' or 'Public.' This means users can choose who will see the 'I hate my job' post. And for Google+ users who want to comment on the post, there is a 'Public' or 'Limited' text tag that can be clicked on to see exactly who else is seeing the post and who will see any comments left.
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A Few Tips for Facebook Users
You've Been Tagged by Joe Blow
Out of all the changes that took effect in August on Facebook, one of the most important to note is that anyone can tag you in a photo - even strangers. This means that a spiteful ex or a random cyber-bully can tag embarrassing pictures of you which will immediately appear on your profile. The good news is that Facebook also added a 'Profile Review' option which allows users to prevent unapproved tags to be posted on their profile or wall, although they will appear elsewhere on Facebook.
To turn this feature on, go to the upper-right corner on Facebook and click on the arrow next to the 'Home' tab and select 'Privacy Settings.' Next, scroll down to 'How Tags Work' and click 'Edit Settings.' Finally, turn 'Profile Review' on. Any tags made will then be listed in a 'Pending Posts' section at top of the profile until they are rejected or approved for posting by the user.
Too Much Info on the Wall
For users who allow their profile to be seen by prospective schools or employers, it is important to keep comments clean and professional. Whether a user wants to remove that not-so-appropriate inside joke or comment made on a friend's wall or keep all of his or her comments private, Facebook offers a way for the user to do this. Go to the 'Recent Activity' section on the wall and hover on a post until the X button appears to the right. Click on it and select either 'Hide this action from my profile' or 'Hide all recent comment activity from my profile.'
Don't Be Caught Off-Guard Again
Facebook users have learned over the years that it changes privacy and security settings all of the time, often without a heads-up. In order to avoid getting caught with their pants down (figuratively or literally) users need to keep updated with these changes. The best way to do that is get the information directly from Facebook by 'liking' these pages: Facebook Security, Facebook and Privacy, Facebook Mobile, Known Issues on Facebook and Facebook's official Facebook page.
Unfortunately, students sometimes use social networking sites for some unsavory behavior. Learn about the dilemma schools face when students post inappropriate or hurtful comments on Facebook.