Facebook’s New Timeline: How to Protect Your Privacy

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Most television is free because it comes with ads. And most websites are free because the ads come with you.

The launch of Facebook’s new timeline has sparked many Internet users’ fear of their personal data being used in unethical ways. Early users spotted ways of figuring out who defriended you (which have since disappeared). F-Secure Security Advisor Sean Sullivan points out that you can still go through your Messages and wall posts and figure out if a friend has cut you off.

Many users were particularly alarmed to learn that Facebook was tracking users even after they log out.  Facebook says they have fixed this “bug” and is no longer tracking you if you are logged out, unless the site you’re on integrates with Facebook.

Past Facebook changes have triggered a backlash that quickly abated as the the site grew. Generally, the privacy concerns of the new Facebook in mirror the new Facebook. And there are some privacy tools that you can take advantage of including the “reset” button along with Profile Review and Tag Review.

If you’re afraid of snoopers on your timeline, make sure to edit your friends list, set your default privacy setting to “Friends Only” and only share with your friends.  If you want to take extra steps to secure your browsing from Facebook, here are two things you can do now.

1. Use a separate browser in Privacy Mode for anything you don’t want “anybody” to see.
When it comes down to it, we know what activity we’d like to hide. By separating your Facebook activity from your browsing, you’re removing the chances of your “private” browsing being tracked. In Firefox, you turn on Privacy Mode by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P. It doesn’t make you anonymous, but it will keep the information from being tracked on your computer.

2. Consider quitting Facebook.
If you’re still not comfortable, you can quit Facebook and perhaps start over with Google+. But before you do this, ask someone who uses Gmail and gets ads based on their most intimate communication, “Is this a company you trust not to track you?” Google’s +1 buttons are becoming as common as Facebook’s “Like”. Not to mention the endless Google ads and services that proliferate across the web. And if you’ve ever created any sort of Google account, you may be shocked at what a detailed history Google keeps of your activity. Go to https://www.google.com/history/ to check it out.

Cheers,

Jason

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