What Big Brother DOESN’T Need to Know Won’t Hurt Him

You know what..?  I don’t get it.

What is it with the 4Square, "hey I’m physically <over here>," stuff??  This whole advertising exactly where I am to the entire multi-verse is really confusing to me, potentially problematic, and if we’re all just a bit (paranoidly) honest, dangerous.


Yes… I understand its great for impromptu meet-ups and such; but advertising that I’m not at home or out and about (as in, away from my car), leaving my <pick a stationary, valuable asset> unattended, just seems to scream "please come and rob me."

I don’t get it… AND I’m just sayin’…

Now, don’t get me wrong. I loves my Tweeples, and my Facebook friends; but you guys don’t need to know where I’m at all the time, everyday, out loud. That’s why I don’t use things like 4Square, Google Latitude; and now won’t use Facebook Places.

If you want to give Facebook Places a try, and don’t want other people tagging you or checking you into places without your consent, then you need to tweak your privacy settings on Facebook. I saw a cool little article on Gawker that goes over this. I’m going to reproduce this quick, little procedure here for everyone.  Why Facebook rolls out features with little to no fanfare and then opts you in to everything continues to amaze and annoy me.  I just don’t understand their way of thinking…

However, all of settings are in your Account Settings in Facebook, and you do have to make changes to more than one spot if you want to take care of this.

How to Insure that Only YOU Note where you are with Facebook Places

  1. Log into Facebook & Access your Account
    01 - Accounts
    Your Account drop down is in the blue bar, at the right corner of your browser window.  Its got all sorts of goodies in it.
  2. Access Your Privacy Settings
     02 - Privacy Settings
    You want to access your privacy settings, so click the Accounts menu and then choose Privacy Settings.  You’re then taken to a web page where a number of different privacy options can be accessed.
  3. Select Custom Settings
    03 Custom Settings
    Custom Settings is where you need to go. In the Custom section the link near the bottom of the left side is what you want to click.
  4. Things I Share
    04 Things I Share
    Ok. Let’s get down to business. If you’re like me, not everyone needs to know where you are all the time, everyday, out loud.  So, in the Places I check into option, you can select Everyone, Friends of Friends, Friends Only or Customize.  I chose Friends Only at this time. I’m not entirely certain I’m going to use Places, but I’m not certain I’m NOT going to, either.  This gives me the ability to use the feature, but allows me to limit who can see that information to the people I specifically trust, my FB friends.

    Next, you need to determine if you want to be grouped together with People Here Now.  Depending on what you are doing, where you’re doing it when you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it with, you may not want to be grouped in with all the other lemmings and labeled. Enable this with care, and insure that you want this to be enabled.

  5. Things Others Share
    05 Things Others Share
    Last, but not least, Things Others Share.  Its nice when someone you’re travelling with can check you into the conference you’re attending, can check your coat for you, or some other courtesy. However, having someone else check you into a place may not be what you want.  You may not want others to know where you are (Gawker used an example where you skipped out on watching the latest episode of <pick a chick show> with your girl friend, you go to the bar, a buddy tags/checks you into the bar and BAM, you’re busted when your girlfriend sees that on Facebook Places. Not good…) 

    The other end of that is that your buddy is drunk, wishes you were at the bar drinking and having a good time with him and the rest of your buddies, and BAM, checks you in as a joke (and you’re either on your way home or stuck in traffic or something); and BAM you’re still busted when your girlfriend sees that on Facebook Places. Let’s not talk about those less than completely trustworthy friends of friends who might also need something to hawk to make rent and notice you’re not at home because you checked in somewhere.

The Gawker article tries to paint humor around why these settings need to be adjusted (and does a good job); but in the end, it all ties back to the way Facebook assumes everyone wants to use everything they have available all the time (every day, out loud…); and that’s just not the case.  I would prefer NOT to be included in all this stuff.  At the end of the day, its not that I’m trying to hide things from ANYONE, but that I just don’t want to share with everyone that I’ve gone to the bathroom…again. 

It seems I’m not alone on this either, as many others are calling this a huge privacy problem.  MSNBC has an interesting article saying much the same thing as the Gawker article; but Gawker doesn’t have the Carnegie Mellon quote:

"I think it’s quite Orwellian. We have literally become each others’ Big Brothers," said Alessandro Acquisti, a privacy expert at Carnegie Mellon University.

Nice… NOT.

Dear Facebook, Stop assuming I’ll love everything you do. I don’t. Signed, All your Users

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