13+ Things Facebook Won’t Tell You
What does Facebook do with your personal information, and how can you control who sees your private posts? Improve your user experience with these tips from Facebook experts.
How Much Does Facebook Know About You?
Find out by clicking on the cog icon in the top right-hand corner of the Facebook homepage, going to Account Settings, then clicking “Download a copy of your Facebook data” at the bottom of the window.
The More People See Your Posts, the Better
You may not want to share your updates and other personal information with the whole world, but Facebook has kept the default setting as Public. It’s better for us if you share more, and we’re assuming that most of you aren’t going to bother changing your privacy settings.
Photographs by Alexa Speyer; Ilustration by Josue Evilla
Facebook Manipulates What Shows Up In Your News Feed
You may not see every post from your friends, and only a fraction of your friends may see all your updates. Facebook wants users to see posts that will keep them on the site the longest, so it moves up the posts that are the most liked, shared, and commented on.
Facebook Follows You Around the Internet
If you’re signed in to Facebook, we track you while you surf the Internet. Anytime you visit a page that has a Facebook Like or Share button, that information is logged.
Be Careful When Posting About Your Vacation
If your posts are set to be Public, burglars can see your status updates and figure out when you’re not in town. Insurance companies may also use posted information to raise a premium or deny a claim.
Big News? Your Friends Will Find Out
Posting big news like your engagement, the birth of a baby, or your acceptance to grad school? Facebook will know. We target those types of announcements by using something called natural language processing, and then make sure they stick around in your friends’ news feeds until the next time they log on.
Sharing Your Personal Info Can Help You
It may work to your benefit for Facebook to know a lot about you. For instance, if you ‘like’ the Old Navy Facebook page because you love to shop there, you’ll appreciate it when a coupon pops up.
You Can Do A Lot to Alter Your News Feed
Not seeing enough posts from friends you care about-and too many from those you don’t?
Set your news feed to sort by Most Recent, rather than Top News. Then add your favorite people to your Close Friends list and unsubscribe from any friends whose updates you’re not interesting in receiving.
You Can Pay to Have More People See Your Posts
Really want to make sure your friends see your important news (you’re having a garage sale, for example)?
For a fee, around $7 to $10 a post, Facebook will move your update to the top of their news feeds.
Timeline Isn’t Going Away
Lots of users hate Timeline, but it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. It’s a more effective way for people to share, it’s visually appealing, and brands love it because it gives them a better platform to market their business and show people who they are.
Beware of Pranksters
Never leave your computer while you’re logged on to Facebook, especially if your co-workers have a sense of humour.
For a while, whenever someone at our headquarters did that, we’d write something like “I love Justin Bieber” as his or her status update. When that happened to me, I’d get e-mails asking, “Are you OK?”
Be Picky When Choosing Friends and Liking Pages
If you say yes to everyone, you’re going to see lots of things in your news feed you don’t care about, and you’ll have to take the extra time to filter them out.
You Can Make Yourself Invisible
Hide from all your friends on Facebook Chat by going to the chat box and clicking Go Offline.
If it’s just one particularly annoying friend that you want to avoid, click on his name in the chat window, hit the cog icon that’s in the top right, and choose Go Offline to [Name].
Some Information Can’t Be Made Private
Your name, profile picture, cover picture, network, gender, and username are always publicly available.
Noticed Fewer Fans on Your Favourite Facebook Pages?
That’s probably because the company has recently been cracking down on phony profiles created en masse by shady companies to boost a page’s Facebook popularity.
In a recent filing, Facebook estimated that as many as 83 million of its profiles are fake, though some are duplicate pages set up by real people.
Watch When You Like a Company, or Post About a Product
Your interaction might be shown to your friends as an ad for that company.
Sources: David Jacobs, consumer protection counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C.; Brittany Darwell, lead writer for insidefacebook.com; Justin Lafferty, coeditor at allfacebook.com; Cameron Camp, cybersecurity expert at ESET in San Diego; and a former Facebook employee.