Social media is all about sharing: what you’re doing, where you’re going, who you are with and how you’re feeling.
But how much do you really know about Facebook and how it actually operates? Even if you’ve been ‘friending,’ posting and tagging for years, the site is always making changes. AVG’s Facebook Guide is here to illustrate how to:
- Manage privacy settings
- Understand what the site does with content
- Provide some general social media tips
Free download in PDF format.
Every time you ‘like’ a product or view a company’s page, Facebook knows. And it doesn’t forget. In fact, it uses this information to show you targeted ads. Before you panic, there are ways of managing how much Facebook capitalizes on you, just as there are ways of weeding out who can find or ‘friend’ you.
Social media is all about sharing. What you’re doing, where you’re going, who you are with and how you’re feeling. On Facebook, you can catch up with old friends, keep up with your family and follow your favourite brands. But what’s public and what’s kept private for your nearest and dearest? Here’s how to enjoy the best of social sharing while staying in control of who can see what you’re up to.
Whatever you think of Facebook, it’s a safe bet that social media is here to stay. Whether you’ve been with Facebook since the beginning or you’re new to timelines, tagging, friending and liking, we’ve got answers to make the world’s biggest social network work for you.
So you’ve joined Facebook. You’re reconnecting with old friends and keeping up with your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Life’s moments - from graduation parties, weddings and new babies to your dream trip to Bali - can be documented and shared. Maybe Facebook delivers your post-game reports, news analysis or just cute pictures of puppies. Best of all it’s free...sort of.
You’re now part of a social network of more than one billion users worldwide. And that’s just on Facebook. But how much do you really know about the site and how it actually operates? If you’re contemplating taking the plunge, bear in mind that your name and face might already be there - thanks to what your family and friends have already shared about their own lives.
Other Facebook users can post pictures or videos of you or ‘tag’ you so that if you do join, those pictures automatically pop up in your timeline for all to see.
In other words, you may be on Facebook even if you don’t have an account, so it’s useful to know how to manage your presence.
Even if you’ve been using Facebook for years, it’s still a good idea to brush up on the site’s key aspects and any changes it has rolled out. Here’s how to make the most of Facebook without the worry.
One of Facebook’s main selling points is the ability to reunite with long-lost friends and acquaintances. But what about the people you were happy to leave behind as life moved on? Fortunately Facebook is on top of it, and gives you the tools to customize your profile.
Circle of friends
Maybe you don’t want a barely remembered work colleague from 20 years ago sending a friend request. Maybe the idea of hearing from an old flame, or your spouse’s high school sweetheart, fills you with dread.
Your Facebook profile can be as accessible or limited as you want, depending on how you specify your privacy settings. Look for the padlock icon on the top right corner of any page to see whether those billion other users can find you - or not. That padlock is the go-to place for keeping your private life private.
Likewise, you can filter who sees what you post on your timeline. So if you don’t want acquaintances to misinterpret a remark that your close friends will know is sarcastic, Facebook does grant this privilege. And if you’re tagged in a photo or comment you’re unhappy with, simply click on the tool at the upper-right corner of the post or picture and delete. Or get a jump on that possibility by tweaking your privacy settings; ‘Who can see my stuff’ - again, found through the padlock menu. - gives you more control over what people can post to your timeline. It’s also a good rule of thumb to think But it’s not just a question of having the right privacy settings. Think carefully for a moment before posting anything on your timeline.
You can edit or delete a post, but the best advice is to stop and think twice before clicking and sharing what’s on your mind.
Do you really want to state that you’re going on a month-long cruise? Or that your retirement party will be a free buffet at a local restaurant? And don’t even think about blabbing or even alluding to someone else’s news, especially if you risk beating your daughter to posting pictures of her newborn baby. It’s always best to stop and think twice before pressing “post”.
Our personal information is more easily accessible than ever before, and while social networks have exploded over the past few years, the debate over personal rights hasn’t kept up.
What’s Facebook like as a neighborhood? What proportion of American women and men are members? What percentage of people with a college degree will you find there? Are you likely to find your peers, your kids or grandkids?
Point and shoot
Part of the beauty of Facebook is the ease and accessibility of sharing pictures. But one consideration when posting photos - be they of other friends who are on Facebook, family members or just strangers in the background - is the potential impact on those people. Should you have their permission? Would you be happy for photos you appear in, even if you were snapped strolling through a park, to be shared with someone else’s Facebook friends?
For privacy settings, see the padlock icon at the top right of any Facebook page. Then click on ‘See More Settings’ to block ‘friends,’ review posts and photos you’re tagged in or make other modifications.
More complicated is navigating the family photo question, and what digital legacy you’re leaving for your children and grandchildren. Even if you are delighted by the cute picture of your toddler grandchildren covered in bubble bath, will they thank you years down the line? Might future employers or university admissions officers take a dim view of your under-age nephew toasting the camera with a Coors?
Tread carefully when sharing images, even if they are of close family members with whom you have a good relationship. Try to put yourself in their position. If nothing else, it’s a chance to open a dialogue with your teenage or adult children - not least because they may not be aware of what Facebook’s fineprint says in regards to images.
Also, are you aware that smartphone photos contain all sorts of embedded data, which can include geotags, the geographic coordinates of the location where the photo was taken? Facebook and some photo-sharing sites strip that data from the images they display, but what actually happens to it? A quick trawl through the hugely popular photosharing site Flickr demonstrates just how easy it is to track down exactly where each photo was taken, which can be a little shocking if you don’t know what you’ve signed up for.
Ok, so you’re comfortable that everyone concerned is happy to have their images beamed among your chosen group of friends... and their network of friends and so on. But now what?
Tag! You’re it
A s it happens, any photos or videos you upload can be reused by Facebook, as spelled out in its 14,000-word terms of service - yes, the small print.It’s worth looking at https://www.facebook.com/policies/
Chances are you didn’t read it all when you signed up. So here it is in a nutshell: you’ve agreed to “grant us a nonexclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any Intellectual Property content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.”
That means everything from your profile picture to the video of your grandson’s clumsy first steps is available for Facebook to use as it wishes.
Nor does Facebook relinquish these rights if other users pick up things you’ve posted. You may believe you’re sharing information just with your friends, but they are able to pass along that material to others and so the chain goes on.
When posting an image, for example, always consider that it could be seen by a complete stranger and then ask yourself if that’s something you’re comfortable with.
On a similar note, you might choose to tag a picture’s general location, happy for everyone to see the classic Corvette now sitting in your driveway. You probably have a pretty good idea that none of your Facebook friends moonlight as car thieves, and that no one else will get a hold of that information.
Unless, of course, your friends are viewing your picture in public, such as on their tablet on the bus or on a computer in a library. It’s still unlikely any bus-travelling or library-using car thieves might spy that your beloved hot rod resides near Chevy Chase, Maryland. But it might be enough to give you pause for thought.
Have you ever wondered how Facebook operates without charging its users? Well, in a way it is profiting from you. For one thing, every time you ‘like’ a product or view a company’s page, Facebook knows. And it doesn’t forget. In fact, it uses this information to show you targeted ads.
It’s not just a weird coincidence that if you’re single, your page is covered in ads for dating sites.
Pay with data
Y ou don’t need to go as far as ‘liking’ or sharing something for Facebook to assume it will suit your interests, based on your profile or keywords in your posts. Facebook calls it “personalizing your experience.” You might call it having your age, hometown, personal views or other information mined by Facebook for the benefit of its advertizing partners. Hey, you signed up for it.
Facebook puts it this way: “If you indicate that you are interested in topics such as products, brands, religion, health status, or political views, you may see ads related to those topics as well.” Facebook insists that it strips any information that “personally identifies you” to its advertizers.
Before you panic, there are ways of managing how much Facebook capitalizes on you, just as there are ways of weeding out who can find or ‘friend’ you. We’ll come back to that second point, but a good place to start is Facebook’s own advertizing page, https://www.facebook.com/advertising. Or just search the internet for the latest articles or rants, some of which will provide easy, step-by-step instructions for minimizing how much Facebook may be exploiting information you’ve voluntarily provided.
Don’t forget to click on the padlock icon at the top right side of the page - next to the cog icon - to take you to privacy settings. These are fairly bare-bones, but if you click on ‘See More Settings’ you’re greeted with lots of options, including the ability to block ‘friends’ and to review posts and photos twhat friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline.
Microblogging site where users ‘tweet’ images or messages of 140 characters or fewer, or simply ‘follow’ or ‘re-tweet’ the content of other users.
Popular photo-sharing sites that enable users to build a portfolio of images for others to view or follow.
Theme-based collections of images ‘pinned’ on a virtual mood board and shared with or by followers.
Referred to as a social bookmarking site. Reddit hit the headlines when President Obama took part in a 30-minute Q&A ahead of the 2012 US election.
Video-sharing website where users can generate original content or upload and share clips from television shows, films, music videos and more.
Share it. Use it wisely and the way you want to, and you’ll enjoy being part of a billion-strong community.
On the whole Facebook is a revelation, an exciting, fluid, communal wonder of the internet age. It’s user-friendly and can be life-enriching or even life-saving: gone are the days of smiling through hours of your friends’ vacation slideshows now that you can simply scroll past their endless photos. But as with all new things, Facebook should be approached with a grain of caution.