It’s a Small Digital World, After All

By David Rothmund

To sign up for an account, you must enter a name, birthday, gender and email address into the form, and then choose a unique password. After completing the form, it will send a confirmation link to finalize the sign up process.

It is Facebook. In a matter of minutes after signing up, Facebook can help a new user reach hundreds of old friends, colleagues, family members and all the in-betweens.  

With more than 1.23 billion users, Facebook has enabled users to share what is on their minds, add photos and videos or even create social groups. 

However, when you sign up for Facebook and agrees to all terms and conditions, Facebook has access to more personal information than what you may assume.  

Since Feb. 4, 2004 — when Facebook was founded — its privacy terms and conditions have changed, and so have its sharing abilities. You can find tagged photos through search engines, share or embed statuses onto any website or blog without a user’s knowledge, and now most recently — share photos a user hid from his timeline, making them not so “hidden.”

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The Facebook Desktop Help section states that “when you hide a photo or post you’re tagged in on your Timeline, or adjust your Timeline and tagging privacy setting, this only limits who can see the content on your Timeline. The photo or post is still visible to the audience it’s shared with other places on Facebook, such as in News Feed or search.”  

If a user signs in to Facebook, types “Photos of” with the desired name following after in the search bar, one will see all of the photos of the person mentioned, even if they are not friends.

Neel Patel, sophomore in LAS, said, “It’s partially our own fault for not reading the privacy terms, but it would have been nice if Facebook told us about this new feature.”  

Like most people, Patel said that he went through his Facebook settings and altered what certain people can and cannot see.   

“I don’t necessarily want my parents to see everything,” Patel said.  

Additionally, when you are about to post something onto your Facebook account, Emily Wickstrom, assistant director of The Career Center, said to assume that everything you post can be seen.

“Even if you change your name, your email is still attached to your account,” Wickstrom said.  

She urged students to be more cautious when they post content; even a great resume can be ruined by having inappropriate and negative posts on your Facebook account. Depending on the company and recruiter, future employers do check social media accounts, she said.  

However, Sarah Herberg, sophomore in ACES, said she is not too worried about her Facebook account.  

“I have certain privacy settings in place, but because I check my Facebook so much I don’t utilize them all,” she said.  

Specifically, Herberg said she does not use the “Timeline Review” function because “everything gets around one way or another.” The only time Herberg monitors her privacy is if she does not want certain family members to see what she posts, she said.  

The Facebook Desktop Help section states that “Timeline review is a tool that lets you approve or reject posts that you’ve been tagged in before they go on your Timeline.”  

No matter what Facebook privacy settings are in place, everyone has the potential to see what you post.

“Think of it as a permanent record,” Wickstrom said. 

David can be reached at [email protected].