Reclaim your Privacy on Facebook using a Simple Bookmarklet

20 05 2010

Of all social networking sites, Facebook causes the greatest privacy concerns. Certainly since it has changed its privacy options over time.

In the beginning, Facebook restricted the visibility of a user’s personal information to just their friends and their “network”, but the default privacy settings have become much more permissive, as you can see in the video below.
This short video is based on a visualization made by Matt McKeon and gives only an impression of a work-in-progress
(for up to date info check the original animation at

The reason? According Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg the controversial new default and permanent settings just reflect the way the world has changed, becoming more public and less private (see ReadWriteWeb).

“Default” is the key to the problems. You have to opt out to protect your privacy. However to fully protect your privacy on Facebook, you have to navigate through 50 settings with more than 170 options (see great charts at the NY Times!). Facebook’s privacy policy is longer than the American constitution!!!

Shocked by the results of the ACLU’s Facebook Quiz (see Mashable), I already changed my privacy settings last summer. Doing a simple quiz on Facebook meant everything on your profile (whether you use privacy settings or not), is available to the quiz. Even more worrying, when your friends do a quiz, everything on your profile is made available to the developers as well.

Since the default privacy settings have changed, my settings needed to be adapted again. But where were the leaks in the 170 options?

Luckily there is a very simple bookmarklet Reclaim Privacy that can check and fix your profile in 2 minutes (see It is very easy.

1. First go to Reclaim Privacy and drag the bookmarklet to your web browser bookmarks bar
(in the example I dragged the bookmarklet into Chrome’s bookmarks (upper arrow)

2. Go to your Facebook privacy settings and then click that bookmark (Scan for Privacy, see arrow) once you are on Facebook.

3. You will see a series of privacy scans that inspect your privacy settings and warn you about settings that might be unexpectedly public.
In my case my friends could still accidentally share my personal information. This is indicated by a red sign: “insecure.

4. So I clicked “prevent friends from sharing your data”, and in seconds this was the result:

5. I tweaked the contact information a bit (caution) by changing my contact settings, but I still would allow everyone to add me as a friend (I still have to approve, don’t I?)

Piece of cake!

Silly Saturday 23 # Twitter Cartoons

15 05 2010

Like my previous Silly Saturday/Friday Foolery this a post in the style of “A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words”.

It also fits in with my last post: “A Quantitave Study suggests that Twitter is not Primarily a Social Networking Site”

[1] As a matter of fact the first cartoon is from the presentation of Haewoon Kwak et al that I reviewed in that post, although they used it in a different context.

What do you think when you see this cartoon (by Ian D. Marsden)?

My first impression is that someone twitters instead of helping people out when there is a riot, accident, terrorist attack etc., but its meaning is positive: “During the Iranian election unrest Twitter was used as a powerful tool to get news out of the country”

[2] Twitter as it is seen by many…

A bit of self-mockery is always sound. Although of course my Twitter behavior is quite unlike that depicted above.

[3] But I do recognize the behavior of Twitter sheep like these (and I don’t mean the lonely sheep but the ‘sheepish followers of celebrities). Brilliant cartoon by Gerald the Sheep (Ben Gallagher)

[4] Noise to Signal also posts some excellent Twitter-cartoons (and Facebook, i-pad etc). The Cartoon below (from RobCottingham) is from the post: “Mommy, where do hashtags come from?” Do you know where # come from?

Here a real-world example of the confusion hashtags (#) can cause…

"There are 3 hashtags in use, which one is the real one?"

That is it for now.

And also from Ramona 🙂  ….Glad I’m not a lonely sheep)…


  1. Cartoon: Iranian Election Demonstrations and Twitter » Iranian Elections and Twitter by Ian D. Marsden on Marsden Cartoons
  2. Twitter Sheep : Gerald-sheep at
  3. “Mommy, where do hashtags come from?” from Noise to Signal (Rob Cottingham)