Beware of "Everyone."
Facebook started prompting its more than 350 million users Wednesday to click through their personal privacy settings in an effort to educate them on what is publicly available on their profiles.
Users can now decide if they want their information seen by their list of "Friends," "Friends of Friends," or "Everyone." And by everyone, the social networking site means everyone on the World Wide Web, not just Facebook.
"It's this 'Everyone' that people should really be concerned about," said David Coursey, the Tech Inciter blogger for PC World. "It allows your information to essentially be launched out into space and what happens to it is beyond Facebook's control and beyond your control."
When Facebook was founded in 2004, it was a platform for college students to connect with one another. Information was linked between friends and their networks, be it a school or region.
As the site has grown, some of those networks based on geography — like the city of New York — have become too large to be meaningful, according to Facebook's new guide to privacy. So the company is forgoing networks based on location and asking users to reset their privacy preferences.
When users log on to their accounts over the next few days, they will be asked to go through a three-step process. The only exception is for users younger than 18, whose information will be seen only by "Friends of Friends" even if they designate "Everyone."
While users will still be able to hide themselves from searches on the Facebook site, these bits of information can still be accessed on search engines like Google: name, profile picture, networks, current city, gender, friend list and pages.
"This should encourage people to think about what they say and what it will look like five years from now," Coursey said. "In some ways, it's creating a diary in which every page is public and lasts forever. And because it's easily searchable now, no one will ever forget."
Only about 15 percent to 20 percent of Facebook users ever used their privacy settings, said Nick O'Neill, editor of the unofficial blog All Facebook. The default for current users is profiles limited to friends and networks. But for new users, the default will be for everyone to view status updates, work and education information, and posts.
Read more at SacBee.com