It was wrong in 2011 when it first made the rounds. It’s still wrong today. I’m talking about this silly thing that everyone is posting as a Facebook status update:
“You may not know that Facebook has changed its privacy configuration once again. Thanks to the new “Graphic app”, any person in Facebook anywhere in the world can see our photos, our “likes” and our “comments”. During the next two weeks, I am going to keep this message posted and I ask you to do the following and comment “DONE”. Those of my friends who do not maintain my information in private will be eliminated from my list of friends, because I want the information I share with you, my friends, to remain among my friends and not be available to the whole world. I want to be able to publish photos of my friends and family without strangers being able to see them, which is what happens now when you choose “like” or “comment”.
Unfortunately we cannot change this configuration because Facebook has made it like this. So, please, place your cursor over my photo that appears in this box (without clicking) and a window will open. Now move the cursor to the word “Friends”, again without clicking and then on “Settings”. Uncheck “Life Events” and “Comments and Like”. While you’re there, you can decide what else you want to hear from me. This way my activity with my family and friends will no longer be made public, and the stuff I do that you’re not interested in won’t be on your walls.. Now, copy and paste this text on your own wall (do not “share” it!).”
Stop posting this. Let me explain two things.
1. It’s a bad sign when the name of the feature is incorrect. It’s not “Graphic app.” It’s called Graph Search.
2. The things that you are asked to do here are recycled from a previous privacy update in 2011. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now.
I do this for a living, and I must be honest with you. I get angry when the same people I talk to about checking their privacy settings once every three months refuse to do that but they spread false information at the drop of a hat. I understand that you don’t know that your friends – or the people you perceive to be your friends – have no clue what they are talking about, but it really angers me. So many people treat the once every three months privacy check the way they treat getting an oil change. They think “meh, that oil stuff doesn’t really impact how my car runs, so I’ll just ignore it.” No one is saying you have to have it done every 3,000 miles anymore, but you can’t ignore it.
Back to Facebook. How many of you actually know what Graph Search is? Allow me to clear it up. Graph Search is a powerful new way for Facebook to present search results. If anything, it makes it easier to find photos and who likes what, but it doesn’t change anything as far as what is returned in search.
So for example, if I use Graph Search and type “Italian restaurants nearby my friends have been to” I’ll get a list of restaurants near me that my friends have checked-in at. It’s not breaking any news, it’s just making it easier to find. What scares me most is knowing how many people click and share without thinking and what that will return in a Graph Search query. But that will make great fodder for another post.
Now if you really want to make it so Graph Search isn’t as powerful as everyone is making it out to be, here’s a way you can actually help: Make sure you aren’t tagged in photos you don’t want to be tagged in by hovering over a photo and choosing “remove tag.” That you can do, although your privacy settings, if done right, should already be set to inform you when you are tagged in a photo. And better yet, you should approve each tag so you don’t end up in this situation.
There’s a whole world of fun and interesting stuff under Privacy Settings. Have a look. There’s a lot to navigate, but it’s not especially difficult. Despite everything you read and are told, you control your Facebook account. You may not like how privacy is controlled, but you do have a say in it.
And just in case you don’t believe me, Snopes has it covered pretty well too.
So stop sharing this silly viral Facebook post and share this post instead. Educate, don’t emulate.