Privacy settings worth noting on Social Networking sites

Privacy on Social Networks (Photo: opensourceway via Flickr)

Privacy on Social Networks (Photo: opensourceway via Flickr)

Following yesterday’s laissez-faire approach to social media tools in the workplace, I thought I should balance the ledger with some sober, safety advice.

Of the most popular social sites used in the workplace, or most desired and feared, the following all have some default privacy settings that might surprise or alarm you

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Flickr
  • Google plus

Lets take a closer look, thanks to an article shared by Territorian super user of social sites, Bronwyn Clee.


We have all heard (and some have experienced) Facebook‘s loose attitude towards your privacy.

One of the most embarrassing flops for Facebook was a new advertising system in which your purchases made through Facebook advertisers were broadcast to your friends through the news feed. This was pulled shortly after an unfortunate gentleman in the USA was shocked when his girlfriend found out he had bought an engagement ring for a surprise proposal!

In the latest development, Facebook has a setting in which you can allow or disallow your profile picture and name to be used in what’s called ‘social context advertising’. This is where if you have liked a brand or have begun using an app, your photo will appear on friend’s Facebook pages in endorsements for these services.

As of this week, Facebook is still saying it is thinking about the service and reserves the right to launch it.

Naturally, as is Facebook’s want, your settings default to opting you IN to this system. However, you can opt out easily by going to Account > Account Settings > Facebook Adverts.


Twitter has a pretty clean sheet on the privacy front, primarily because it never promised to be private.

The whole reason for joining Twitter is to broadcast your thoughts to the world. That is why people who choose to use private accounts befuddle me. It is like buying an advertising billboard and then covering it in drapes.

Be that as it may, there is one setting you might want to check and that is the area where you can see which applications you have allowed to connect to your Twitter account so that you can access Twitter from various platforms, through various applications and send pictures and video through your account. Log on to Twitter and go to Settings > Applications to make sure you are happy with your VIP list of privileged sites.


It is like LinkedIn has taken a leaf from the Facebook playbook because one setting you are unlikely to know about is that LinkedIn is entitled to use your name and photo in advertising campaigns unless you explicitly tell them not to.

In many ways, just like Twitter, I am not as concerned by this as some other writers, primarily because the very reason I joined LinkedIn was to build my worldwide network of connections. What better way than by being featured in a LinkedIn campaign?

From LinkedIn’s perspective, this right they hold is akin to payment for a service which is free for many users (you can choose to pay for extra features in your LinkedIn account). As with all free services, when a service is free, YOU are the product!

If you want to opt out of this conscription, log in to and go to Username > Settings > Account > Manage Social.


Flickr is a very popular photo sharing service.

One item worth noting is that many cameras these days capture your location via GPS when you take your picture.

This information is stored within your image file and therefore becomes available to all and sundry when you share your photos with the world.

Of course, if you are using the service to promote your Top End travel company, then this GPS element is a bonus.

But if you are taking photos of your secret apartment, a secluded fishing spot, or around your home, you might want to disable GPS from your camera for pictures destined to be shared online.

Today’s photo has been sourced via Flickr.


Google+ is Google’s effort at creating a social network to rival Facebook and it is off to a good start.

One of the things being talked about most by early users is the more mature approach to privacy Google has taken, perhaps after learning lessons from Facebook.

To this end, there is no risky setting you need to fix here, rather a suggestion you look at the Circles settings and how they work.

Circles are where you place your contacts in Google+. You can then choose, on a post by post basis, which group or circle of friends you want to share content with, or you can choose Public to share with the world.

Likewise, when you are looking at what is being shared within Google+, you can choose to tune into everything or just the utterances of people in particular Circles you have curated.

You can learn more by logging into your Google+ account, then going to Settings > Privacy

If you don’t have a Google+ account yet and would like one of the early invitations (it is still in Beta mode or trial mode), just email me and I will let you in:

Many thanks to Harrison Weber from New York who wrote a longer article along these lines. It was his article, shared by Bronwyn, that prompted me to write this one.


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