Somebody proved me (slightly) wrong.

In my previous post in this blog I gave a lengthy demonstration in an attempt to disprove a recent message that has been making the rounds on Facebook regarding privacy when using the like and comment features. Facebook message says that you ask your friends and family to go through lengthy procedures to secure your own privacy. At the end of the explanation I challenged people to prove me wrong. Much to my surprise at least two people inadvertently did prove me wrong. At least partially wrong.

While everything that I said in the original post was true, there was one other privacy issue that I was unaware of and did not test. Here’s what happened… I posted a link to the blog as a comment on a couple of different people who posted the original Facebook message. People who I did not know commented on my comment and liked my comment. I was able to see their comments and likes. Here’s an image that shows what I’m talking about. The image below shows the original message that I first showed at the beginning of the previous blog. Below that there was a comment from someone I didn’t know but I could see their name and the comment. Then you see where I posted the link to my blog as a comment. Then the person who had commented before both liked and commented again. You can click on the image to enlarge it as always.

Comments and likes from stranger

Comments and likes from stranger

Anyone who uses Facebook on a regular basis has seen this behavior but I’ve never really thought about it in terms of privacy. One question that came to mind… Did this person who liked my comment and who commented upon my comment have their profile set to “public” or to “friends”? To verify this I had the BS account go back in like and comment upon the test message from my dad. Here’s what that looks like. Note this is as seen from the BS account in his privacy setting is still “friends”.

Mr. Shagnasty likes and comments my dad's post.

Mr. Shagnasty likes and comments my dad’s post.

So my original post implied that the only thing you need to do to keep your own information private was to set your privacy settings to “friends”. That is not 100% true. Regardless of what your privacy settings are, anytime you like or comment on someone else’s wall (or presumably images etc. as well) your comments and likes will probably be visible to anyone.

Now I logged into my own personal account. Remember that I’m not friends with Mr. Shagnasty. When I look at my dad’s page I can see his public post titled “test message” and I can see that Boliver Shagnasty has both liked and commented upon it. This is despite the fact that BS’s privacy settings are set to “friends”. Here is what my dad’s post looks like from my account.

My view of dad's wall with BS comments

My view of dad’s wall with BS comments

So if you post on your timeline “To celebrate New Year’s Eve I’m going to rob a bank” then only your friends will see it. However if one of your friends writes “What are you doing on New Year’s Eve?” and you comment in reply “I’m going to rob a bank” then it will be public. Or at least as public as your friends post was. This “loophole” that I’ve discovered doesn’t really have anything to do with the wording of that original Facebook warning. The original warning said “… with the recent changes in FB, the “public” can now see activities in ANY wall. This happens when our friend hits “like” or “comment” ~ automatically, their friends would see our posts too.” I still believe that I have proved that statement is incorrect and challenge anyone again to prove me not slightly wrong but completely wrong.

What am I doing for New Year’s Eve? Sitting home updating my blog and watching NCIS on my DVR. At least that’s all I’m saying in public 🙂

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