11 Comments

Summary:

Facebook can be a great tool for web workers, but you need to be careful about how much information you’re sharing. To stop inappropriate photos being displayed on your profile page, you may want to change who can see photos of you that others have tagged.

fb-new-profile

Facebook can be a great tool for web workers, but if you’ve “friended” both professional and personal contacts, you need to be careful about how much information you’re sharing.

Last week, Aliza wrote about the new profiles that Facebook is rolling out. As she noted, the new profile layout displays tagged photos of you prominently, and you don’t have complete control over which images are displayed. You can choose to stay with the old profile format for now, although once you’ve switched, you can’t go back. But even if you choose to stay with the old layout, anyone who’s moved to the new profiles will see your page in the new layout.

On the left is my profile in the old format, as I’m seeing it. On the right is my profile in the new format, as a friend is seeing it.

To stop inappropriate photos being displayed prominently on your profile page, you may want to change who can see photos of you that others have tagged. The settings are not easy to find.

  1. In the menu at the top right, go to Account -> Privacy Settings.
  2. Now click on the small “Customize settings” text link near the bottom of the screen.
  3. Now scroll down to the line that says “Things others share, Photos and videos I’m tagged in” and click the “Edit Settings” button.
  4. In the pop-up screen, look for “Who can see photos and videos I’m tagged in”, and click the down arrow in the button.
  5. Select the setting you wish, probably “Friends Only”.
  6. Click the “Okay” button to save your changes.

If you want to limit further who can see tagged photos, it can be done, but the process is even more complicated. To start, you’ll want to assign your friends to groups like “Personal” or “Business” as I described a few months ago. Now you can deny that group access to your tagged photos. Follow steps 1-4 above, then in step 5, select “Customize”. This will bring up the “Custom Privacy” box. In the “Hide this from these people” box, type the name of the group you want to deny access to. Select it and click “Save Setting”.

As Aliza noted, the new Facebook profiles may be meant to encourage more business use. But Facebook’s Byzantine privacy controls are unlikely to encourage the service’s use by professionals.

Have you moved to Facebook’s new profile page?

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  1. I wonder how many people realize that the only thing changed is that instead of the link “Photos with John (55)” under the profile photo there is now the list of those photos. If you had your tagged pictures open for all to see until now, you are not too smart.

    1. Aliza did mention that, but as she said, in the old format, tagged photos were buried under the “Photos” tab rather than right up front on your home page.

      1. The link inviting to see tagged pictures has always been right under the profile photo along with “Add to Friends”, “Poke”, and “Chat”. The 5 most recently tagged pictures are managed by the same privacy setting “Photos and videos I’m tagged in”. It used to be that it simply hid the link from the profile as well as “photos)” link after a person’s name in picture caption. Now, it hides the 5 most recently tagged photos.

  2. Depending upon the list, there may be some overlap. Does Facebook default the most or least restrictive privacy setting?

    In case what I’m asking is confusing…

    Business list:
    Ann
    Bob
    Cathy

    Personal list:
    Cathy
    Dan
    Elizabeth

    If you were to prohibit the business group from seeing tagged photos would Cathy, who is on the personal and business lists, get to see the photos or not?

    1. Charles Hamilton Ben Tuesday, December 14, 2010

      I have always assumed that people on two lists get access to the group with the least restrictive settings, but haven’t tried it. Sounds like an experiment that we need to make!

      1. The typical policy setting in computer security is that denial takes precedence over permission.

      2. It appears that dnbrv is correct. I did a test with a friend, by adding him to two groups — one with access to tagged pics, and one without — and he was not able to see my tagged pics.

  3. Yes, I have moved to the new profile and yes, it is a complicated. I “think” I have the settings correct, but you never know – especially when Facebook changes things so often.

    My attitude on privacy control has mellowed. I try to maintain as much privacy as I would like but I also am not going to freak out if someone somewhere sees a personal photo or an off-the-cuff comment I have made to a friend. Of course, I always advise people to just not do stupid things in the first place – that way you don’t have to worry about what someone sees. But, in the end, we are all human – even our professional friends.

    1. Rick, it’s clear that Facebook thinks the world will be a better place with more openness. If you haven’t already, read “The Facebook Effect,” which I wrote about at http://gigaom.com/collaboration/fall-reading-for-web-workers/

      But whether or not that you agree with Facebook’s views on privacy, its settings should definitely be easier to use.

      1. Charles: Thanks. I read the post you suggested and will read the book. And, yes, the privacy controls need to be easier to use. Rick

  4. I find Facebook and its permission settings to be difficult to deal with. I don’t like to rely on the “user manual”; I would prefer to test the actual behavior. But without another profile (Facebook policy allows a single profile per person), it is hard to test. In general, I find Facebook to be non-intuitive; I usually overcome non-intuitive systems by being exceedingly familiar with how things work but with constant Facebook change, it is an ongoing struggle.

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