Facebook Privacy Settings Hoax

"Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead." -- Benjamin Franklin
"Four score and seven years ago I found that not everything on the internet is true, regardless of how many times repeated."  -- Abraham Lincoln

The first quote above is real, and the second is obviously made up.  If you accepted the second at face value you have a severe gullibility problem that needs to be addressed.

With respect to the first quote, all criminal collaborators understand the truth therein.  I submit that anyone with two or more "Friends" on Facebook should take this saying to heart (unless, of course, those Friends are deceased).  

You should never expect privacy on the internet.  The expression "internet privacy" is an oxymoron.  You should assume that all your postings and every site you visit are backed up on a server somewhere and could be available to almost anyone anywhere at any point in the future.  Ever hear about Wikileaks or the hacker group Anonymous?   Government security agencies regularly monitor the social media for so-called subversives (a group I may be in, since I openly criticize many government policies and actions), and government agencies use the social media for propaganda.

What I find most baffling is that the same people who post the most personal things on the social media suddenly become concerned about their privacy settings.  You may have seen people post items like:  "Finished moving into new house at 123 Gullible Lane", with photos showing furniture and electronics.  A few weeks later there may be a post "Woohoo!  Going to Costa Rica Dec. 20-Jan 5".  I can remember when burglary used to be like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates -- thieves never knew what they were going to get.  Now anyone with rudimentary hacking skills can peruse potential targets without leaving home.

The Facebook privacy settings issue I deal with in this post is the one raised in this message which I have seen many times:
To all my FB friends: I request that you please do something for me ... I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. However, with the recent changes in FB, the "public" can now see activities in ANY wall. This happens when our friend hits "like" or "comment" and then automatically, their friends would see our posts to...o. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it this way....So I'm asking for your help. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (DO NOT CLICK), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS" (also without clicking), then down to "Settings", click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on "COMMENTS & LIKE" and also "PHOTOS" by clicking on each one. By doing this, my activity amongst my friends and family will no longer become public. Thank you very much for doing this....
The first thing that tells me this could be a hoax (which it is) is the EXCESSIVE USE OF CAPS.  But instead of the normal proliferation of exclamation marks this message uses bastardized ellipses for some sentence enders.

What I did to determine this was a hoax was pop the sentence "By doing this, my activity amongst my friends and family will no longer become public" into a search engine.  You could use a smaller quote from the passage, and get similar results.  I got 3.7 million returns, of which the first 4 appear below (click for sharper image):
Note that the Snopes link is first.  This is one of the most popular sites for examining the truth in internet postings.  So here is the Snopes link.  Snopes quotes from a Sophos article which is worth reading; it seems to be the best analysis I have found.

The second link is some internet tech site where the writer has no problem calling this a hoax.

The fourth link is to Facecrooks where the privacy settings notice is referred to as a hoax.  Facecrooks also refers to the Sophos article linked two paragraphs above.

If you read some of the articles linked above you will understand the issue better.  Basically, the solution is to ensure that you use the "Friends" or "Custom Settings" to restrict who can view your postings, and ask your Friends to do the same.  The problem seems to arise when people use the "Friends of Friends" or "Public" settings, so don't use them and ask your Friends not to also.

You can review and change your Facebook Privacy Settings by clicking on the little arrow at the extreme upper right of your Facebook home page.  Here's a Facebook link on how to set your privacy setting on an individual post and another Facebook link on all issues related to privacy.
Unrelated to the above, I would encourage anyone who questions images on the internet to become aquainted with the Tineye site.  I have a plugin for this site on Firefox so all I have to do to find where else the image has appeared on the internet is right click the image, and click the Tineye option and in less than a second I will have all versions of the image.  

This is especially handy in debunking hunting and fishing fables that I get regularly via e-mail.  But it is also good at determining whether an image has been altered, and for tracking down where it was first posted. 


  1. This story has now been verified as the captain was finally caught up with by snopes.com

  2. Nice and informative post about Facebook. I also have found some Facebook Privacy Settings Changes in 2016.