Facebook: Students don’t know everything

By on March 5, 2008

You’ve prepped for this job interview for weeks, mulling over every conceivable question in the books. You shake hands with what could be your future employer, sit down and glance at a picture of you sitting on the desk in front of him; pictures from one drunk and crazy college night, from a Facebook account which you thought you had deleted.

“I mean most people post some pretty ridiculous things on their Facebook accounts, so to that extreme, I think employers would be shocked at some of the things they could find,” said Marisa DeSisto, a sophomore English major.

Even if students wanted to maintain their Facebook account throughout their college years with the plans of deleting it before entering the real world, they will be hard pressed to find anything which even resembles a “delete” button on the site.

Facebook has generally been considered a safer environment for students to interact with each other. But how secure are you on Facebook?

According to a Feb. 11 NY Times article, “While the Web site offers the option to deactivate their accounts, Facebook servers keep copies of the information in those accounts indefinitely.”

Usually compared to Myspace in the social networking world, Facebook has cornered the college market since its start. However, when deleting an account on Myspace, the most a student will have to go through is a few questions to confirm that they wish to leave the site. After confirming, it is like the user had never been a member.

When you update, or even deactivate your account, Facebook maintains a copy of your information for a “reasonable period of time.”

This means that despite deleting pictures, or personal information, Facebook may still keep a copy as stated in the Privacy Policy. “Even after removal, copies of User Content may remain viewable in cached and archived pages,” states the Privacy Policy.

In addition, Facebook “cannot and do[es] not guarantee that user content you post on the site will not be viewed by unauthorized persons.”

“I definitely feel way more secure on [Facebook] than on Myspace. There are way more privacy settings on Facebook, so if you don’t want anyone to see your information, then you can set it so they won’t, It’s good that way,” DeSisto said.

This sense of security which some students have may be a product of the students lack of familarity with Facebook’s privacy policy as well as their terms of use, which users automatically agree to upon their first “post” on the site.

The Web site’s terms of use states that by posting on the site, you grant the Company “an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt and distribute such user content for any purpose.”

A subject of the Feb. 11 Times article, Nipon Das, a 34-year-old director at a consulting firm, recounts his unsuccessful attempts at deleting his Facebook account. After two months and an e-mail to the company threatening to take legal action, Facebook deleted most of the user’s information. However, an e-mail message was still successfully sent to his account after several transactions with Facebook to delete his user name.

In order for a user’s content to be removed from the site, that user must meticulously go through every “wall post” written, every pictures “tagged” of themselves, and every “application” added to their profile. Once this is done, deactivation can occur with no information visible on the profile, only in the company archives server.

Facebook spokeswoman Amy Sezak told the Times that, “Users can have their account completely removed by deleting all of the data associated with their account and then deactivating it.”

But, how many users are aware of this detail? Some would assume that deactivating their account freezes their information from searches as well as from the company itself.

“It is up to me and every user to know what they upload. If you know your information is subject to search from almost anyone, it’s your choice to both create and use an account or not. No one can be very safe on the net. Knowing that, you either go on or stop,” junior business major Niko Masalas said.

Just reading through the privacy policy can give an accurate idea of just how much privacy is necessary to keep your profile secure, and how much of your personal information is being sent through the web. Facebook’s interaction with third-party sites puts all of your information at risk, be sure to prevent your information from being shared on the internet.

Brendan Doherty, a freshman communications major said, “I was unaware that they have the right to keep all my information. It’s definitely going to make me think about what I put on my page.”


Tips for a safer facebook

1) Delete all unnecessary applications. Under the privacy policy, Applications may “access and share certain information about you in accordance with your privacy policy” however Facebook does not guarantee that this information will not be misused.

2) Avoid posting incriminating photos, and assure that all albums on your Facebook are only seen by your friends. Any tagged photos of you with incriminating evidence should be untagged.

3) Ensure that all of your Facebook friends are people that you want seeing all of the information you are posting on your Facebook. If they are not, delete them.

4) Edit the settings on your limited profile, which can be viewed by people who are not your friends, and edit your search settings to control exactly what non-friends can see.

5) When you are ready to stop using Facebook, delete everything on it before deactivating your account. Facebook will not delete your photos, wall posts, etc. You must do that manually, one-by-one to ensure the information is not found. Facebook is entitled to keep this information, even if you delete it.


About Marissa Kameno and Kaity Arnes