Data Detox Week 2: Being Social

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In May, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will host The Glass Room, an interactive exhibit examining the ramifications of always-on, always-connected technology on personal privacy. As a lead up to this process, the Library is offering an abridged version of Data Detox, an 8-week series devoted to regaining control over your digital footprint. This is the second post in that series.

The Glass Room and Data Detox were developed by Mozilla and Tactical Technology.

logo for The Glass Room Digital Privacy project. A stylized box sits next to the text THE GLASS ROOM against a white background.

Social media sites like Facebook have completely rewritten the rules on how we keep in touch with one another. Having a constant stream of updates from our friends and networks has created a sense of “ambient intimacy” – in other words, the ability to feel close to people we don’t talk to directly. While we are making all these posts, photos, and comments, Facebook and other platforms are building their own connections with each of us – and using that data to further their own purposes.

With that in mind, let’s continue our data cleanse by looking at our social media privacy settings.

Privacy Settings on Facebook:

Log into your Facebook profile. Click on the sidebar menu (which looks like a little triangle on desktop, and three horizontal lines on mobile), and go to Settings. From there, click Privacy. 

These are some general privacy settings – you can use as few or as many of these as you like.

  • Turn off Location.
  • Select “Friends” for Who can see your future posts?
  • Select “Friends” for Who can look you up using the email address/phone number you provided?
  • Select “No” for Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?
  • Go back to Settings. Under “Timeline and Tagging,” select “Only Me” or “Friends” for Who can see posts you’ve been tagged in on your timeline and Who can see what others post on your timeline?

Privacy settings on Twitter:

Log in to your Twitter profile. Click on your profile photo and click on Settings > Privacy and Security

  • Under Photo Tagging, check Do not allow anyone to tag me in photos.
  • Under Tweet Privacy, check Protect my Tweets.
  • Under Tweet Location, uncheck Add a location to my tweets.
  • Under Discoverability, uncheck Let others find me by my email address.

Experiment with these settings to find the mix of privacy and sharing that is most comfortable to you. Once you’ve settled on the right privacy mix, make sure to check on your settings every six months or so. Both platforms make occasional changes to their privacy functions, so it’s important to make sure your preferences stay current.