13 + Things Facebook Won’t Tell You

From Reader’s Digest, Digital Digest, By Michelle Crouch, Edited by Beth Drener

Sources: David Jacobs, consumer protection counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C.; Brittany Darwell, lead writer for insidefacebook.com; Justin Lafferty, coeditor at allfacebook.com; Cameron Camp, cybersecurity expert at ESET in San Diego; and a former Facebook employee


1. Want to know how much Facebook knows about you?

Go to Account Settings in the Home menu and click “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”

2. You may not want to share your updates and other personal information with the whole world.

But Facebook has kept the default setting as Public. It’s better for us if you share more, and we’re assuming that most of you aren’t going to bother changing your privacy settings.

3. You may not see every post from your friends, and only a fraction of your friends may see all your updates.

Facebook wants users to see posts that will keep them on the site the longest, so it moves up the posts that are the most liked, shared, and commented on.

4. If you are signed in to Facebook, we track you while you surf the Internet.

Anytime you visit a page that has a Facebook Like or Share button, we log that information.

5. If your posts are set to be Public, burglars can see your status updates and figure out when you’re not in town.

Insurance companies may also use posted information to raise a premium or deny a claim.

6. Posting big news like your engagement, the birth of a baby, or your acceptance to grad school?

Facebook will know. We target those types of announcements by using something called natural language processing, and then we make sure they stick around in your friends’ news feeds until the next time they log on.

7. It may work to your benefit for us to know a lot about you.

For instance, if you Like the Gap Facebook page because you love to shop there, you’ll appreciate it when a coupon pops up.

8. Not seeing enough posts from friends you care about—and too many from those you don’t?

Set your news feed to sort by Most Recent, rather than Top News. Then add your favorite people to your Close Friends list and unsubscribe from any friends whose updates you’re not interesting in receiving.

9. We make money by selling ad space to companies that want to reach you.

They give us demographics—the desired location, career, education level—and we put their ads on the pages of those who meet the criteria.

10. Do you really want to make sure your friends see your important news (you’re having a garage sale, for example)?

You can pay a fee, around $7 to $10 a post, to move your update to the top of their news feeds.

11. Lots of users hate Timeline, but it’s not going away anytime soon.

It’s a more effective way for people to share, it’s visually appealing, and brands love it because it gives them a better platform to market their business and show people who they are.

12. You can limit your posts to Facebook friends who live in your city, those who went to your college, or those you work with.

You can even choose to allow everyone to view a post except your boss. Click the arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the status update box, and you’ll see all the options.

13. Never leave your computer while you’re logged on to Facebook, especially if your coworkers have a sense of humor.

For a while, whenever someone at our headquarters did that, we’d write something like “I love Justin Bieber” as his or her status update. When that happened to me, I’d get e-mails asking, “Are you OK?”

14. Be selective in choosing friends and Liking pages.

If you say yes to everyone, you’re going to see lots of things in your news feed you don’t care about, and you’ll have to take the extra time to filter them out.

15. Hide from all your friends on Facebook Chat by going to the chat box and clicking Go Offline.

If it’s just one particularly annoying friend that you want to avoid, click on his name in the chat window, hit the cog icon that’s in the top right, and choose Go Offline to [Name].

16. Some information can’t be made private on Facebook.

Your name, profile picture, cover picture, network, gender, and username are always publicly available.

17. Noticed fewer fans on your favorite Facebook pages?

That’s probably because the company has recently been cracking down on phony profiles created en masse by shady companies to boost a page’s Facebook popularity. In a recent filing, Facebook estimated that as many as 83 million of its profiles are fake, though some are duplicate pages set up by real people.

18. Here’s how to get the site to work faster and more efficiently:

Connect to a Wi-Fi network before using your phone to log on to Facebook.

19. Watch when you Like a company, or post about a product.

Your interaction might be shown to your friends as an ad for that company.


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