The other day she said “Why did you post a picture of a Chinese restaurant owner saying ‘You go home, you no stay here all day’?” I had no idea what she was talking about. I barely post anything to Facebook other than random Instagram photos that I’m sure no one cares about. My best guest is that one of my slightly-less-than-classy friends tagged me in a photo. My Facebook settings have been set to “No one sees tagged photos of me” for at least two years. Not anymore? Well this was a nice way to find out. I haven’t eaten at a Chinese restaurant in years.
The point is, Facebook is sharing tons of things with your friends, whether you know it or not and whether you’re cool with it or not. When my brother posts creepy comments on a lingerie model’s photo, all his friends see it, I see it, my mom sees it, and my aunt sees it. Actually it’s pretty much the only thing that shows up on my mom and aunt’s feeds. Pictures of lingerie girls from my brother and racist photos from me. I’m not sure what they see in Facebook that has them staying up to the wee hours of the morning every night, but they are hooked.
The other day I noticed that Facebook was pulling in all my likes from Instagram. Every photo I’ve nonchalantly liked in the past week or so has gone to my Timeline, and probably to my friends’ news feeds. I have friends that are going through the “post photos of my naked baby” phase. I’ll like those photos because babies are beautiful miracles and everyone should like them, and also because if I don’t it’s like “Do you think my baby is ugly?” I think your baby is great, it’s just that all my coworkers think I’m a sex offender. It’s just bad timing because I’ve gotten a bad batch of Bic razors that always leave me with a little fuzz on my upper lip. You know what I’m saying.
I downloaded an app called SongPop (which I am awesome at and will accept all challenges) and now all my Facebook friends know that I can recognize Janet Jackson’s “Escapade” in 1.3 seconds.
I posted some new animated photos to Cinemagr.am and now all my friends can see all of the photos I’ve liked. From my mom’s standpoint I can see why an animated photo of some French guy wagging his tongue around would be categorized as “stupid stuff” but hey, I didn’t intend to share his French tongue wag with with world.
The problem often begins when users take advantage of the ease of signing up for a new mobile app by just logging in with their Facebook credentials. When you sign up you’re basically saying “Sure, use my Facebook info so I don’t have to spend the next five minutes trying to type all my information into this signup form on this tiny virtual keyboard, oh and also feel free to let everyone know what I’m doing every second I use this app.” During the Facebook connection there is an option to tell Facebook that only you are able to see posts from that app, but chances are you’ll skip this step (and surprise, they all default to that information being shared publicly.)
I spend most of my time donning a “Senior Digital / Social Media Strategist” cap. I am supposed to be as savvy as they come, yet I am constantly surprised when my online activity is leaked to my Facebook wall or my Google+ profile (Hello Picasa photos from 4 years ago, great to see you again.)
If you’re attempting to limit the amount of activity that goes to your Facebook page, you’ll want to dive into your privacy settings on a regular basis. Download a new mobile app? Head over to Facebook and edit your app settings before you spend the evening trolling bikini girl pics. If you’re like me you’ll see a long list of apps that you’ve tried maybe once. If you’re not using the app, just remove it. For the apps you do want to continue using, click on “Edit” and then X out the row that says “This app can also: Post on your behalf” and change “Who can see posts this app makes for you on your Facebook timeline?” to “Only Me.”
Of course, there’s a great chance that things you don’t want to leak onto your Facebook page will still appear even after you go through all this trouble. In that case, just quit Facebook. We’re all headed in that direction anyway.