NEWS FROM THE LAB - Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Limit Exposure to Facebook Friends of Friends Posted by Sean @ 09:48 GMT

Yesterday, Forbes reporter Kashmir Hill asked a question which has been on my mind for years:

Forbes, Kashmir Hill, Friend of a Friend

Why Doesn't Facebook Show You What A 'Friend of a Friend' Sees On Your Profile?

The question is in reference to Facebook's "View As" feature which can be used to audit your account. And the answer given is rather a surprise. According to Facebook's chief privacy officer Erin Egan: "We've never gotten feedback about that before."

Never?!? If that's true, I can only assume it's because they've never bothered to ask anybody.

I'm frequently asked this question when family and friends ask for Facebook advice: I can see stuff belonging to people I'm not friends with, what can they see on my timeline? And because Facebook lacks a complete set of auditing tools, I usually recommend a full reset with the "Limit Old Posts" option.

Facebook Settings, Limit Old Posts

The option resets all past timeline content to "Friends" only. At that point you don't need to audit, friends of friends will see nothing more than what is later made public. Limit Old Posts can be found via the Privacy Shortcuts icon and the See More Options link.

Just the other day, I was helping a neighbor setup a page for his Helsinki-based fudge business and it turned out that a large number of his photos were in an (iPhoto) album which was open to friends of friends. Given that there are pictures of his children in that album… the Limit Old Posts is a must.

Additional view as options would be very welcome, and Facebook should also consider a review page showing photos with people that can be seen by people other than friends.

Post by — Sean