Thursday, September 29, 2011

Facebook Timeline privacy
Listen


I have been testing the new profile page that Facebook will start rolling out next week for a couple of days now and I really like it. However, I have some privacy concerns. Of course there is the obvious concern: on the classic profile page it takes quite an effort to click the "show more button" half a million times to see what a certain person was doing back in 2006, while on the new profile page -called Timeline- the same takes, well... a single click. But technically, nothing is exposed that wasn't exposed before.

However, there is a more hidden privacy concern. Facebook has algorithms that determine how much you "like" someone, based on your interactions, both private and public. It uses this information to determine which posts to show in the news overview and who to give a prominent place in the sidebar. That is okay as long as they don't share this information with anyone.

(or is it? http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html)

Unfortunately, timeline seems to use some of this information out in the open:



Note that one picture is bigger than the others. Why? Well, lengthy private conversations seems to be the answer in this case.

Suppose I don't want anyone to know (this blog post kind'a defeats that point). I went on a quest to figure out how to hide this and it took me surprisingly long to figure it out.

On top of your "Timeline" profile page you'll find the following buttons:


On the next page you can go back in time to the year and month of your choice and hide (or give even more attention to) whatever you want, including new friends.


So, the key takeaway from this story: if you want to hide something and there is no hide button directly next to it, go looking for it in the activity log.

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