Coping with Facebook changes

If you make a mistake, then click the triangle again to re-flag it as a top story, or click the arrow in the top-right corner of the message concerned and you can select “mark as top story” (among many other options) from a dropdown menu.

Coping with Facebook changes

If you flag everything to be removed from the top news filtering system then, eventually, the system will simply revert back to the chronological ordering that was present before this “makeover”. It’s something of a faff to apply and takes a while to kick in, but if it bothers you that much it’s probably worth it.

User privacy

However, one thorny issue that you can deal with immediately is that of user privacy. My mailbox has been full of emails from users worried by the fact that people who they don’t know can now see their postings.

Two examples typify the kind of concern that’s spreading like wildfire across Facebook as I write: first, if you comment on (or like) a friend’s post or photo, your comment becomes visible not only to that friend, but also to all of their friends, whom you probably don’t know and may not want reading your comments; second, whenever a friend of yours comments on a post or photo by one of their friends (who you don’t know and don’t have in your network), then you too get to see those photos and comments.

There is an easier way to deal with this, though, which simply involves taking your privacy seriously enough in the first place

As panic spreads throughout the system, a workaround has been posted and reposted, which suggests that the only way to deal with this invasion of privacy is to hover over the usernames of all your friends, one by one, and deselect the “comments and likes” option for them, then get them to do the same.

There is an easier way to deal with this, though, which simply involves taking your privacy seriously enough in the first place. The problem exists only because Facebook users are too lax about the information they publish and who they broadcast it to.

Let me explain: the reason all these comments are visible is simply because the users in question have their privacy level set either to “friends of friends” or “public”, and have therefore given permission for comments by others to be broadcast widely.

How widely? Well the friends of friends option means all your friends can see it, and if they have the same lax settings and comment to the thread then all their friends can see it, and so on almost ad infinitum.

And I don’t think I really need explain what the “public” option means, do I? My privacy settings are toggled to “friends” only, which should restrict who can see my comments, but I actually need to ensure all my friends also have their privacy settings on the same setting – this is where things become tricky.

The main reason for addressing this here is the hope that perhaps PC Pro readers at least can start spreading the word and requesting that people in their networks do the same.

While you’re in the privacy settings area, I’d also recommend that you use the “limit” option to change previous posts to “friends only” and so prevent deleted friends, or those who have sent you friend requests that you’ve declined, from seeing your stuff. You can easily check to see who any particular post is being shared with by looking for a small icon at the bottom right of every post.

Hover over this and the explanation will pop up: if you see a globe then it’s on public display to everyone except users you’ve specifically blocked, while a cog means either friends of friends or a custom share option. What you really want to see is a silhouette of two heads, which indicates this post is being shared with friends only.

Ticked off

Perhaps the one new feature that people dislike more than any other is the ticker. This gadget exhibits not one but two fatal design flaws, by not being big enough to be useful, but just being big enough to be annoying.

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