WTF, Facebook? Question about privacy.
March 18, 2011 4:28 AM   Subscribe

All of a sudden, I can see comments that my friends post on the status or links of people who aren't my friends. And vice-versa. So, if I post a comment on Joe's status update or link, Sally can see my comment and Joe's status/link even though Sally and Joe are not friends. This seems to be new, and is a bug, not a feature. Any way to control this on my end?

Sadly, FB is THE online tool where my circle of friends and neighbors keep up-to-date and interact with each other, so while deleting my profile is an option, thus far I'm going to keep it open.

I've been pretty vigilant about maintaining lists to filter content that is shared with people I am "friends" with. Unfortunately, these recent changes have seemed to kill the ability to keep separate groups of friends, well, separate.

My best option seems to be cutting down my FB list to only a very small group of people. However, lots of folks related to the work I do use FB to communicate too, and I was coping by having these two separate groups, one with a lot of access to my account, and one with very little. These new changes seem to be killing that strategy (and with no forewarning, surprise!)

And my News Feed is now cluttered with the comments that Friends are posting to the status/links of OTHER people, who I don't know. I'd like to stop that as well.

Any insight on this? Or advice?
posted by jeanmari to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have no idea how to stop this, unfortunately, but just to let you know: Facebook has been doing this for several months now, it's not brand new. In case you or anyone else out there needs to do some damage control...
posted by phunniemee at 4:54 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


This problem goes away for me when I keep my news feed setting tabbed at "Most Recent" instead of "Top News."
posted by availablelight at 5:03 AM on March 18, 2011


(Note: that fix addresses your clutter/noise issues, not the privacy issue of other 3 parties getting your comments through their feeds on the "Top News" setting.)
posted by availablelight at 5:04 AM on March 18, 2011


I think that is driven by the other person's security settings. If you and Joe and friends, and Joe posts a comment on Person X's wall, if Person X allows friends of friends to see stuff, you'll see it. I'm pretty sure it's been that way as long as I've been on FB, which is a couple of years now.
posted by COD at 5:06 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, if I post a comment on Joe's status update or link, Sally can see my comment and Joe's status/link even though Sally and Joe are not friends. This seems to be new, and is a bug, not a feature. Any way to control this on my end?
The way I understand things to be, Joe's privacy settings have his wall and photos viewable by everyone, or by friends of friends. Others shouldn't see your activity on others' private walls or photos.
posted by SillyShepherd at 5:14 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have no idea how to stop this, unfortunately, but just to let you know: Facebook has been doing this for several months now, it's not brand new

According to my status updates, its been doing it since Feb 2009!
posted by missmagenta at 5:22 AM on March 18, 2011


Yeah. Treat your comments as public. Whenever I have something to say I don't want my mom, dad, stepparents, uncle, coworkers, a few random bloggers I know, and the other 80 people I'm friends with to see, I use another form of communication.

(I also think your friends will see as a broadcast anything you post directly on a public wall. This is one of the reasons I set my profile to "friends only" or worse for almost everything - so no one would embarrass themselves on my profile.)
posted by SMPA at 5:35 AM on March 18, 2011


Could it be that if you only allow "friends" to see things but Joe allows "friends of friends or whatever" that your comment will show up in his feed as a generic "Facebook user" comment? I see these a lot and always assume the commenter has more stringent privacy settings than the page they are posting on.
posted by victoriab at 5:41 AM on March 18, 2011


Maybe about a year ago, the following situation happened to someone I know:

Alice posts a status, laughing at her young child's X-rated mispronunciation.
Bob is friends with Alice and comments on this status
Charlie, who has never met Alice, is friends with Bob and can now the whole exchange; Charlie is incredibly offended by the X-rated word, does not want to see this kind of thing on her Facebook page, and contacts Alice to tell her so in no uncertain terms.

Alice closes her Facebook account.
posted by emilyw at 5:42 AM on March 18, 2011


Luckily, no damage control needed, but it would have been nice to have had a heads up from FB so I could keep it that way!

Previously, I was able to maintain "Lists" of friends which allowed me to set universal privacy controls for everyone on that list. This seemed to be working up until recently. Now when I go to "Lists," I can't find an option that lets me set privacy controls anymore. So freaking annoying.

Did FB get rid of that feature and replace it with having to set privacy controls on every post and link?

And it has been only recently that I've noticed one group of friends "Liking" a status or link of a friend from a completely different group. That only seems to happen when I've commented on the status or link, so I assume that everyone is now able to see my comments showing up in their news feed.

A large part of my annoyance with this is the lack of communication from FB about what their changes will do to visibility and privacy. But, it's FB. This is their crappy user experience. Why does this surprise me at all?
posted by jeanmari at 6:17 AM on March 18, 2011


Sadly, FB is THE online tool where my circle of friends and neighbors keep up-to-date and interact with each other, so while deleting my profile is an option, thus far I'm going to keep it open.

The way I deal with this is I still have a FB account, but I don't post updates or comments or waste time 'liking' stuff. If I want to respond to something I pick up the phone. Using Facebook this way you get the advantage of staying connected but you don't have to deal with the ever changing complexity of who can read what, life is too short.
posted by Lanark at 6:24 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, picking up the phone at 4 a.m. is not an option. Which, because of work, is the only time I have to catch up these days with a lot of people--especially those flung far and wide. So, online it is for now.

I know someone who keeps separate FB accounts for work and personal use, but good grief. What a lot of hassle that would be.
posted by jeanmari at 6:55 AM on March 18, 2011


When you go into your Privacy Settings, is "Posts by me" set to "Friends" or "Friends of Friends"?
posted by mkultra at 7:08 AM on March 18, 2011


You can still edit privacy settings for a group, but it's not quite as easy. Go to Account > Privacy Settings, select Custom, then click on Customize Settings. From the drop down for, say, Posts, select Custom, then in the Hide From field type in the names of groups that you don't want to see that type of information.

For seeing friends' posts when you comment on them--this only happens when the friend in question makes the post public.

I am friends with A and B. A makes a post which is viewable by "Anyone" or "Friends of Friends" (if B went to A's page then B could view the post). I comment on A's post--then B may see my comment in the news feed, even if B isn't directly friends with A.

There is no way for you to directly control this, but you can "encourage" your friends to make their profiles more private. If there's someone in your life that you're especially sensitive about seeing stuff, you can use the view my profile as Suchandsuch to see what they see.
posted by anaelith at 7:10 AM on March 18, 2011


Previously, I was able to maintain "Lists" of friends which allowed me to set universal privacy controls for everyone on that list. This seemed to be working up until recently. Now when I go to "Lists," I can't find an option that lets me set privacy controls anymore. So freaking annoying.

Did FB get rid of that feature and replace it with having to set privacy controls on every post and link?


Instead of setting privacy controls per list of friends, you now set overall default privacy controls, and can exclude certain lists from seeing certain things (e.g. your posts, photos, friends posts' on your wall). E.g. on my privacy settings, the setting for Posts is Friends Only, Except Family. (Family is a list I set up).

You can also customise the privacy of a Post when you post it by clicking the padlock icon underneath to allow more or fewer people than the default to see that particular Post. So if I posted something that I DID want my family so see, I'd click the padlock before I posted it and change it from Custom to Friends Only.

That only seems to happen when I've commented on the status or link, so I assume that everyone is now able to see my comments showing up in their news feed.

If the person you commented on has their privacy for Posts set to Everyone or Friends Of Friends, then all your friends will be able to see their post and your comment (but the post will obviously only show up in their feed if you comment on it).

So your choices are:
a) Convince all your friends to set their Post privacy to Friends Only, or
b) Don't comment on anyone's Posts who you know doesn't have their Post privacy set to Friends Only.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:10 AM on March 18, 2011


This is (in my opinion) the reason why Facebook is evil - they change what they want when they want, and never tell anyone. I still use it, but at least once a year I have to scratch my head, wonder what the hell is going on with facebook, and then utter a curse under my breath (or yell it across the room depending on what they changed). I found the Facebook of 2009 to be nearly perfect, and the facebook of today to be quite annoying, all due to very small changes like you describe.
posted by markblasco at 7:26 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I look at my own wall (or if a friend looks on my own wall), I can see every post I've made on someone Alice's wall. It doesn't seem to matter if that person has tight security. Depending on Alice's security settings, people may not be able to click and follow the link to see the whole thread, but people can DEFINITELY see what I wrote on Alice's wall, just by looking at my wall. My wall posts to others did not used to show up on my own wall. I have extremely tight security settings and consider myself facebook fluent, but I am unable to find a solution for this.

THIS feature is relatively new with the most recent facebook privacy changes. if you look at the Facebook Privacy Page (I 'liked' it so I could see privacy changes), there are literally hundreds, if not thousands by now, of people angry about this. I am so frustrated that FB hasn't addressed this issue, particularly considering the number of complaints they have received.

I think some posters here are a bit confused about the content of this question (correct me if I'm wrong). There is currently no FB setting to prevent your posts to Alice from showing up on your wall. *GRRRR*
posted by Lullen at 7:38 AM on March 18, 2011


There is currently no FB setting to prevent your posts to Alice from showing up on your wall.

There is a setting, but the problem is that it's in Alice's privacy settings, not yours.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:56 AM on March 18, 2011


From the facebook and privacy page:

(1)It’s true that ONLY mutual friends of Dave and Melody get a NEWS FEED STORY if Melody posts on Dave’s Wall. (2)It’s also true that ANY of Dave’s friends can see THE POST by going to Dave’s Wall. The last tip was about (1), not (2). Thanks and stay tuned for how Dave can use secret Group with Melody…

i.e., your posts to melody will not show up in someone else's news feed, BUT THEY WILL SHOW UP ON YOUR WALL and the only way to stop that is to literally block people from seeing your entire wall. https://www.facebook.com/fbprivacy
posted by Lullen at 8:05 AM on March 18, 2011


Nthing that this is about the privacy settings of your friends. Some let friends of friends or even everybody see/comment on their status updates/posts/photos/whatever, some let only friends (or even only select friends) do those things.

I'd go so far as to say that ultimately, though, this is really about the fact that once you post something on Facebook, you no longer have any control over what they do with it or particularly solid guarantee that only the people you want to see it will see it -- even if Facebook seemed like they cared more about not messing around with people with gratuitous changes, there'd be no guarantee that they would consistently execute good-faith policies correctly. The best policy is to simply do not trust them and don't post anything there that would cause major drama or that you'd truly need to keep private.
posted by weston at 8:53 AM on March 18, 2011


Also, keep in mind that the end game according to Facebook is a complete lack of privacy, which allows for "better" social networking (and also better ad stats and tracking ability). You should only post things online with the expectation that everyone in the world will be able to see them. If you don't want that, than use email, texts, or something else.
posted by markblasco at 9:29 AM on March 18, 2011


Lullen, reread the snippet you posted. It says that friends of the postee can see the poster's post by going to the postee's wall. The person who's wall the post is on controls who can see it.

Posts that you make on someone else's wall do not show up on your wall unless that someone else has security settings which let that post be visible (on their wall and your wall) by the person who is looking at your wall.

Here is the relevant FAQ about that, and here is the relevant FAQ about the original question... It still really comes down to your friend's settings.
posted by anaelith at 2:58 PM on March 18, 2011


Probably the two facebook accounts option is the only one that will truly work. Keep your current account for work people, and ask all your close friends to join you at the new account under a different non-searchable version of your name. Use one browser (firefox, say) for one account, and a different browser (chrome, fer ex) for the other.

I don't post anything I wouldn't let my elderly aunties see, so I don't bother with two accounts. And when I have an occasional work snark that needs to come out, I IM it to a friend rather than posting to my wall.

Meh! It's what you make it.
posted by clone boulevard at 7:37 PM on March 18, 2011


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