Facebook has just improved its search engine — so now it’s even easier to find the embarrassing things your mom or kids post about you online.
All public posts to the site are now searchable. Given that public posts are “public”, this change makes perfect sense. However, in a site where over a billion people are sharing with “friends” the sense of what of is public and what is not can be a bit distorted.
For instance, check out this live search of the words “ditched work” (this search doesn’t work in every country yet). Hopefully you didn’t see any of your employees in there.
It’s always a good time to check your Facebook privacy settings. But there’s two you should look at immediately.
Facebook makes it possible to set the privacy for each individual post.
The site’s settings seem like Twitter — where there are two options, public and private. However, underneath that “More Options” link is a whole world of options. You can share with specific people, custom groups, locations. These are all reasonable options that will always be available to you — regardless of how you set your global settings. But I recommend you go ahead and lock down your global settings, just to err on the side of caution.
To do this, log into Facebook and click on the lock in the right upper corner.
Click on “Who can see my stuff?” and select “Friends”.
Now, whenever you post, only your friends will see it by default — unless you purposely adjust the post’s settings.
But what about your old posts?
You have two choices. You can scroll back through your entire Facebook history and adjust them individually. Or you can use Facebook’s tool to change them all at once.
If you choose to do the global change, which can only be reversed only individually, click on “See More Settings”.
Under “Privacy Settings and Tools”, select “Limit Past Posts”.
You’ll see this:
Don’t just ignore that note — especially the top paragraph:
“If you use this tool, content on your timeline you’ve shared with friends of friends or Public will change to Friends. Remember: people who are tagged and their friends may see those posts as well.”
If you’re worried about people tagging you in things that then get shared in your friends’ timelines, click “Use Activity Log”.
You’ll end up in Timeline Review where you’ll see this:
Click on the wheel thing next to the magnifying glass.
You’ll see this:
Make sure you “Enabled” in the up right corner is selected.
Congratulations, you have a new job: Approving whether posts tagged with your name show up in your friends’ timeline. However, there’s no setting that stops people from tagging you and sharing pictures of you may not want to share.
There will always be limitations to the privacy Facebook offers — but the site is getting better at protecting your privacy and security and better at both making its settings intuitive as it makes your stuff easier to find. So keep that in mind and let your mom know about Facebook’s new and improved search.
This is part of a series of posts about what security experts think will happen…
December 30, 2015