With the unveiling of Facebook’s new direction at their f8 conference this past week, there have (unsurprisingly) been a lot of negative reactions to the changes they plan on implementing. One complaint that I’ve seen mentioned numerous times is the notion that the changes will make Facebook more “stalker-friendly” with more and more of our daily lives being shared. There have also been complaints about the new Ticker feature, in which posts appear when your friends comment on one of their (non-mutual) friends’ posts. This resulted in a status update going viral telling people to manually go and unsubscribe from viewing their friends’ commenting activities.
Honestly, I’m rather perplexed by these concerns. Facebook has privacy settings that allow people to have their content viewable only to people who they’ve Friended (or otherwise specified), and therein lies the rub.
Here’s a thought: maybe you shouldn’t be Friending that person you met last night at the bar/concert/house party/public event. Maybe you shouldn’t post a status update viewable to “Public” or “Friends of Friends” (news flash: you can control this). You know, if you wouldn’t normally tell these people where you’re going to eat, or what your daily running route is. Some people, however, go Friending-happy and amass a Friends List in the thousands. Guess what? You’re probably already sharing your life’s activities (whichever ones you choose to post as a status update or other Facebook post) with people you may have met only once or twice. You’re blaming Facebook for your lack of discretion?
Take a look at your Friends List. How many of those people do you actively talk to (online or in real life) on a regular basis? How many of those people do you regularly spend time with? How many of those people do you actually care about in terms of what they’re up to? How many of those people do you trust? How many of those people reciprocate all of these feelings/actions? These are your friends. I would be willing to wager that they account for less than 5% of your total number of Facebook Friends.
You shouldn’t be worried that sharing more information will make you more likely to be stalked because, really, the people you allow to view your Facebook posts should already be people you trust with this information. Your Friends List should really reflect people you do want to share your life with. It’s called “Friends List” for a reason, and yet a lot of people (apparently) don’t seem to realize that there’s a distinction between “friends” and “acquaintances”.
Granted, prior to a week ago, Facebook didn’t really allow for users to differentiate between people who they were friends with, and people who they wanted to give access to select posts (short of the awkward Lists feature which has since been modified slightly). The Subscribe option that now exists makes this much easier (and takes the responsibility away from the user doing the sharing). People can subscribe to others’ posts, and view whatever the person they’ve subscribed to chooses to share outside of their circle of friends.
(There are of course the people who, for some reason, have Facebook accounts, yet abhor the concept of actually socializing/sharing information. The easier Facebook makes it to share, the more these people will complain. They’re… ah… a special breed.)
Just like in real life, online we have to make informed decisions when it comes to who we let into our life story.
If you don’t want random strangers seeing your stuff, go into Facebook’s Privacy Settings and make sure “Friends” is selected under “Control Your Default Privacy” (or specify further under “Custom”). After that, always make sure that whatever you’re posting is set to be viewable only to Friends.
…And make sure your Friends are actually your friends, and not “potential stalkers”.
There you go. Stalker-free.