Facebook Implements New Privacy Feature

Thursday, September 08, 2011

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Don't want your "friend" to post that picture of you that might dissuade an potential employer from hiring you or a current employer from passing you over for a promotion?

Facebook has implemented a new privacy feature that allows members to approve content other members attempt to "tag" them in such as photos.

When the feature is enabled, users will be prompted when another member tags them, and the content will not be displayed on the users wall publicly, but instead will await approval in a queue labeled "pending posts" on the users wall.

The new feature allows members more active control over the type of content they can be associated with at the request of other Facebook users.

To enable the new feature:

  • Go to the Account drop-down menu in upper right hand corner of the Facebook page
  •  Choose the "Privacy Settings" option
  • Select the  “Edit Settings” on the “How Tags Work”option
  • When presented with the popup menu, select “Edit” next to the “Profile Review” option
  • Select “Turn on Profile Review” to enable

Another annoying privacy invading aspect of Facebook is the facial recognition feature which is designed to automatically make an attempt to recognize faces in photos submitted by members and make "tagging suggestions".

To disable the facial recognition and tag suggestion feature:

  • Under you Facebook "Account" drop down menu in the upper right hand column, choose the "Privacy Settings" option
  • Select the "Customize Settings" option near the bottom of the list
  • Go to the second section of options called "Things Others share"
  • "Edit" the option "Suggest Photos of Me to Friends"
  • Choose to "Disable" the feature and press "OK"

Facebook also began offering a two-factor authentication feature this year which allows users the option of requiring that a one-time numeric authentication code be entered in addition to the standard username/password combination if the network detects a login attempt from a device that has not been previously saved by the user.

To enable the "Login Approvals" option, users need to go to the "Account" drop-down menu in the upper right hand corner of their Facebook page, choose "Account Settings" and then the "Account Security" option. Check the box for "Login Approvals" and follow the directions, you will need to have your cell phone handy to complete the process.

It is also highly recommended that users enable the "Secure Browsing (https)" as well as "Login Notifications" options also located on the "Account Security for improved security.

HTTPS allows for your Facebook sessions to be conducted over a secure, encrypted SSL connection, and will prevent the theft of your login credentials if you are accessing your account over unsecured WiFi connections, and it is a generally a good idea all around.

The Login Notifications option will alert you if an attempt has been made to login to your account from an unrecognized device, and works well in conjunction with the two-factor authentication option.

Facebook has also recently released a simple to understand user security guide (pdf) to help members avoid some of the many pitfalls of using the social networking giant.

The guide was written by Symantec's former Senior Director of Internet Safety Linda McCarthy and Purdue University instructor Keith Watson, and was edited by Denise Weldon-Siviy.

The guide instructs account holders on how to:

  • Protect your Facebook account
  • Avoid the scammers
  • Use advanced security settings
  • Recover a hacked Facebook account
  • Stop imposters
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