Facebook has been changing its privacy system of late more often than most of us change our underpants. However, Senor Zuckerberg has said that the festivities are concluded as of the last round of alterations, so if you haven't bothered to pay any attention to your personal settings so far, it might be a good idea to figure out how you feel about it now that the dust has settled.
But rather than read the Facebook heffe's lengthy blog post on how to make things simple, here's a little quiz we've come up with so that you can click the buttons you need right away without any need to digest the techno-blurb. Enjoy.
Someone from your past who you've made no effort to get in contact with sends you a friend request. They send you a message at the same time saying:
"Hey (wo)man, wow long time no speak or what? I was just looking through Pete from school's profile and there you were smiling back at me, just with less hair than before. How you doing? Can't believe you're still living in town and I certainly wouldn't have pegged you as the religious type. Still, glad to see you made it through college and it looks like you're doing quite nicely for yourself. So, what you up to?"
There's no need to accept this friendship and you can quite easily ignore them. Apart from this person possibly being a bit of a tosser, would the fact that they've found you bother you? If so, you need to click "View Settings" in the very top section of the new privacy page entitled "Basic Directory Information". If you don't consider this too much of an intrusion, then you can leave the section alone.
Your phone rings with a number you don't recognise. You answer. A husky voice on the other end of the line says:
"Hey there (insert name here). My name's (insert the name of member of opposite/same sex here). I was surfing around on Facebook and I came across this really cute picture of you unconscious after what looks like a night of heavy drinking. I think your friends must have played some tricks on you because you've got cigarette papers stuck to your eyelids saying Love and Sleep on them".
"I thought you looked really sweet though, so I took a looked at your profile and it seems you're single and the same age as me. Also, I really respect what you've said on politics. Anyway, to cut a long story short, it seems I don't live too far from you, so how would you like to meet for a drink some time? I tried to e-mail and IM you to ask but I didn't get a reply. So, how about it?"
It might be a touch awkward, or perhaps not, but, ultimately, would this bother you? If the answer is no, then in the second section on the page "Sharing and Privacy" click on "Everyone" in the left margin, hit save and be done with it.
You're at a friend's birthday party. You don't know many people. You're feeling a bit of a spare part as you stand a little overdressed in your smart casuals that was apparently only on the copy of the invitation that you received. Out of nowhere a couple approaches you with big smiles on their faces.
"Hi, er, are you (insert your name here)?" says one of them. You nod, none the wiser as to who the hell they are.
"Do you go on holiday all the time or do you travel with your job or something? You've got some amazing photos on Facebook. I might have to get some tips off you some time. I'll just grab your details off your profile and give you a shout".
Later that night you get home having hit it off with a few other people who seemed to recognise you and met a couple of idiots as well. You get out your smartphone and tweet something along the lines of:
"Had pizza on the way home. Managed to recreate it on the pavement outside my house complete down to the olive on top"
The next morning you get to work feeling a little rough. The boss swings by your desk.
"Are we still on for our lunch meeting for your review?" they say. "How about pizza?"
You're not friends with them on Facebook and they don't follow you on Twitter but your Twitter is connected to your Facebook updates.
Does this bother you? If the answer is no, but you want more privacy than Scenario 2, then click on Friends of Friends in the left margin of "Sharing and Privacy".
You use Facebook and you like it. You have a good group of friends and you're quite happy that all of them can see all of your goings on. After all, they're your friends, you can trust your crew.
At the same time, unbeknown to you, an ex of yours has been looking you up but they don't know if you're in a relationship or not and they're not even sure what you really look like any more. They've been thinking about getting back in touch but they're not sure and, without any more information, they're not going to approach.
Now, maybe you didn't want them to and maybe you did but the fact is that they never do. They meet someone else and you live your life without knowing this dilemma for them ever existed. Does this bother you? If not, then head over to the left margin of "Sharing and Privacy" and click "Friends Only".
You don't really mind who sees and hears about the things you get up to so long as only your friends can get hold of your e-mail, phone number and IM credentials. If that's the case, then just stick with what Facebook recommends. Simple.
Some things about Scenarios 2-4 bother you while other facets of the situations you're quite happy with. Well, the answer for you in that case is not this simple one click privacy service that Facebook has advertised. You need to get granular about the way you set up your profile and who you want to access what. Go to the bottom of the "Sharing on Facebook" section and click "Customise Settings". You'll find the privacy page that you're used to from before and you can tick and untick options as you like.
You just can't make up your mind about your Facebook profile. Sometimes you want to comment or post photos that you're fine with anyone seeing and sometimes these things are of a more personal nature and that just comes down to how you feel each time, how loose you might be feeling and how badly in need of venting you are.
If that's the case, then every time you add any content, you'll see a padlock icon. Click on this and you'll have the option at each turn to share your additions with just friends, friends of friends or everyone. Your call at your whim. It's a bit of a hassle and you're bound to make mistakes but it's Facebook flexibility at its highest.
You've long given up on using Facebook apps. They're dull. You've discovered how big your brain is and taken more quizzes than you'd care to remember, but ever since you clued up to the access you allow each of the developers and websites who make these things, you've become turned off - even if that information is still anonymous data to them. Either way, you're not interested.
If that sounds like you, you need to head to the bottom left section of the page, go into and start blocking a few applications and maybe even the entire Facebook Platform program. No more Scrabble for you.
Not only have you had enough of playing the apps but you're getting bloody sick of hearing just how big other people's brains are too. You become enraged when they zombie bite you and if you get one more invitation to take a personality test, there's going to be trouble. If that's you, then not only will you need to turn off Platform but you'll also want to head into the "Block Lists" section at the bottom of the privacy page and start flicking some switches there too.
You're not even on Facebook. In fact, you're just cruising another site somewhere and a little widget appears on the right with some pages that you might like to look at on that website. They're based on preferences that you've expressed on Facebook or perhaps there are some recommendations from friends of yours as to what you might like to look at?
Does that bother you? If so, then it's back into "Applications and Websites" for you. You need to switch off "Instant Personalisation" and you'll never be bothered by Facebook off-site again.
So what do you make of the changes to Facebook's privacy system? Does it work for your needs or has it just kept the thing as complicated as ever? What's more, does the privacy issue really bother you at all? If all the data and information on you available to third parties is anonymous, are you that fussed if they're able to advertise more accurately at you? Let us know.