Tag Archives: privacy

Solutions for Facebook Statuses

In my last post, Struggling with Facebook Statuses, I outlined my frustration with the lack of control over Facebook’s status updates.

Never one to complain without providing suggestions on how to alleviate the problem, I’d like to outline two proposed solutions that would allow a Facebook user to better control, and consequently, better leverage the Facebook status feature which has, for better or for worse, become a primary focus of the site with the latest redesign.


When creating a Facebook Photo Album, one of the prompts asks the user “Who can see this?”. The default answer is set to “Everyone”, but this setting can be changed as needed. (Side note: “Everyone” denotes “everyone authorized to see my profile” not “Everyone on Facebook”.)

Facebook could do the same for status updates. Unless otherwise specified, status updates would be seen by “Everyone”, but for more sensitive status updates, the privacy setting could be changed to include just a subset of viewers. Most casual users wouldn’t bother changing the setting, but for power users, there would be an added level of control.

(I would also argue that for both Status Updates and Photo Albums, a user should be able to set a default answer that may not necessarily be “Everyone”.)

Photo Album Privacy Settings

In this example, I've defined viewers of each Facebook Photo Album based on content.


As it currently stands, the ability to restrict who sees Status Updates and who sees Links is controled by a single function. I believe the two should be two separate privacy functions. Firstly, Links are their own distict feature of the site, just like Notes and Photos and Events, all of which have their own privacy controls. Secondly, the reason I’d like to find a way to open up my Status Updates to more people is so that I can increase the reach of whatever information I’m trying to share.

If Status Updates and Links were separate, I would keep Status Updates fairly restricted for the majority of my profile visitors. Links, on the other hand, would be viewable by everyone. I would use Links to raise awareness of — and recruit particants for — things like upcoming events. And Status Updates would remain literal, and sometimes scary, answers of “What’s on your mind?”.

Facebook Status and Links Privacy Settings

Currently, Facebook Status Updates and Links are controled by a single setting

Struggling with Facebook Statuses

I have recently been receiving quite a bit of traffic to this website from those who have specific questions about Facebook functionalities. If YOU are one of those people, I am more than happy to do my best to answer your question. To do so, simply submit it here.

If you’ve talked to me lately, you’ve probably heard about my frustration with Facebook status updates.

When the updates were first added as a Facebook feature during the Spring of 2006, the site was still only open to those with .edu addresses.

In fact, I distinctively remember first discovering status updates. I accidently put “Julie is Jeff’s” rather than “Julie is at Jeff’s” as one of my first statuses. They were that new that it was before I instinctively translated my thoughts into third-person snippets and formatted them to fit the “Julie is…” standard. I didn’t catch the error until Jeff pointed it out to me. And I remember being hugely embarrased by my Freudian slip. But I digress…

In the Spring of 2006, Facebook was still unknown to the general public and only used by college students. Status updates were to social networks what away messages had been to Instant Messaging services… And users weren’t afraid to push boundaries and include “not-for-adult-eyes” content since, well, there weren’t any adult eyes to see it.

But, here we are, three years later, and the landscape of social networks has obviously changed. Our safe playground is no more.

Currently, my status updates can only be seen by my “wide inner circle”… I’m still defining what that means, and I promise it’s the subject of a half-written blog post on Facebook privacy, but let’s just say that these are the people who are my “friends” and/or my high school and college classmates. Family members, colleagues and professional contacts compromise the majority of those excluded. Now, let’s be honest, as someone whose profession is the mastery of social media, I understand the consequences associated with anything created online – whether it has been restricted to certain users or not. As a result, my updates have evolved to be, for the most part, pretty benign. But I still don’t think my colleauges need to know when I’ve had a late night out and am struggling to keep up in the morning. (Not that I do that… frequently.)

Facebook Status Update

But, by restricting these updates, I’m effectively limiting the power of Facebook since the focus of the site has shifted to exactly this feature  in the latest redesign. And the whole thing is compounded by the fact that Status and Shared Link privacy is a single control (also the subject of an upcoming blog post). Everyone who can’t see my statuses also can’t see my shared links. Let’s take a step back and think about this – a lot of the content I’m sharing on Facebook is local, since that’s what affects my daily life. Now, guess which of my Facebook contacts would benefit most from this content? Would it be the high school and college classmates who have now scattered all over the country, or would it be my colleagues and professional contacts who are DC-based? You see what I’m getting at?

So why not just give in, realize that Facebook has evolved, and open up my status to everyone? Well, because, that’s not how I’ve chosen to use Facebook. Instead, that’s how I leverage the power of my Twitter account. I use Twitter primarily in a professional capacity, sharing useful links and remembering that I must be well-behaved and well-spoken at all times. My Facebook friends DON’T CARE about developments in my industry. They want to know what’s happening in my personal life – presicely the information that my professional contacts don’t need to see…

What it comes down to is that I’m struggling, as is everyone else, to find a balance between managing my personal and business contacts. And when things are so interwoven (since you can bet that everyone in the Social Media space is on Facebook), things aren’t so easy.