What to Watch With Facebook’s Newest Updates

OK, I’ll admit it – I’m one of those geeks who took the time to watch Mark Zuckerberg’s F8 2011 keynote about the changes rolling out on Facebook in the next couple months.

Although everything seemed really innovative and interesting, there were a couple points that raised my concern.

App privacy issues

Eventually, when you give applications permission to access your data, they will be able to share all of the things you are doing on Facebook. So, for example, if you use The New York Times app and allow it to access your data, all of the articles you read will show up on your profile and your Timeline. This can be a little scary knowing that (possibly) almost everything you do online can be tracked and traced back to your profile.

Here’s what you can do: Be careful about which apps you allow to access your information. You always have to click a checkbox to allow the app to do this. It will not do it on its own. Be careful which apps you allow for this and what you do when you are on those apps or it could possibly bite you in the butt when it shows up on your profile.

Timeline trouble

For those of you who haven’t seen the Facebook Timeline design, let me just say, it’s pretty epic. The design is clean and visually appealing and helps you view your profile in a much more interactive way. Not only can you choose which time period you’d like to look at, but you also can zoom in as much you want to see more about that specific time in your life.

While that’s great and everything if you have a perfectly clean and appropriate profile, it’s not for those of you who have inappropriate pictures or statuses on your profile. Even if you’ve cleaned up your act more recently, it’s going to be easier for future employers and other users to look at what you’ve posted online in the past.

This is a really great feature – don’t get me wrong – but it should also make you realize just how careful you need to be about what you post on Facebook. Timeline makes it that much easier to dig up the dirt on somebody. Don’t make your dirty laundry easier to find than it needs to be.

Improved lists = better stalking

Not to sound all doom and gloom, but you seriously need to take a look at what you’re posting now that other users can add you to lists. The improved lists feature allows you to pick certain people and put them in a group, kind of like a Google+ circle, where you can see a newsfeed from just those people’s activity. So, in theory, your Mom could have you in a “Family” list and all of your updates could potentially be in the palm of her hand. While that might not bother some of you, it should raise some red flags about who could be tracking your information.

Remember, do not post your whereabouts all the time. You do not want someone to be able to look on your profile and know where you are 24/7. This is dangerous, especially with this new lists feature, because someone could potentially add you to a list and know what you’re up to by simply looking at that list frequently.

If you want a more optimistic and fun viewpoint on Facebook’s changes, read my blog post here.

While Facebook is a great social networking tool, it’s also important to remember that is is a corporation that wants to make money. It may not always have your best interest at heart. This doesn’t mean you need to be scared of using Facebook, but you do need to be wary of what’s going on with the website because it affects you.

P.S. If you haven’t had the change to watch the F8 2011 Keynote, do it. Adam Samberg’s intro is hilarious.

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