Facebook Places and Your Security

20 August, 2010 by Lawrence in Divorce, Messed up people

Facebook recently launched a new function called Facebook Places.  This is a new function (active on your mobile device) that allows you to quickly post not only your location, but you can include the names of those with you.

Facebook Places on your mobile device

At first blush, this sounds like a lot of fun.  If you’re at a nice club and you want the world to know it, you can select the name of the club from a list of places near you, tag your friends, and Facebook Places will let everybody know what they’re missing.

The problem with this, particularly if you’re in the middle of a divorce, is there are a lot of reasons why you may not want to report your location.  You may not want the world to know who else is with you, and your divorce attorney probably advised you to keep a low profile anyway.

A real potential issue is with the default security settings, you don’t even have to advertise your location.  All it takes is any one of your friends to post their location and tag you along with them.  This will announce to all of their friends your present location, and possibly a list of who else is there.  Since chances are you share some friends with your spouse, you’ve been ratted out without your knowledge.

If that’s not bad enough, once you’ve been tagged at a location anybody else who is also at that location (whether or not they’re on your friends list) can also see that you are there.  If you happen to be getting divorced from a control-freak who is paying close attention to where you are and who you’re with, you can probably see the potential problems.

How to adjust Facebook Places security settings

There are three settings you need to check, and you need to do this even if you’re not planning on using Facebook Places.  The first two are shown below:

I would advise you to change “Places I check in to” to “Only me”.  The setting shown above will only allow your friends to see your location, but it only takes one friend to fess up to your spouse and your divorce may suddenly become difficult.  You can create a custom setting so only very specific people can see this information, but I’ll leave it to you to figure that out.

By default, Facebook Places will include you in “People Here Now”, so anybody who is at your location can see that you are there as well.  You must uncheck this box in order to stop this.

The third setting is easy to miss.  Scroll down a little further and you’ll see this one:

I strongly suggest you disable this function.  By default, Facebook Places will allow your friends to advertise your location for you, whether you want them to or not.  Like I said before, this sounds like a lot of fun but there are just too many ways this can turn against you.

For example, it would be pretty easy to tag one of your friends at the downtown STD clinic, or maybe at a rehab center, even if they’re not actually there.  If that friend happens to be in a divorce where adultery or habitual drunkenness have been alleged, your little joke might cause your friend a lot of troubles.

I’m not trying to throw a bucket of water on your fun.  Lord knows I like to enjoy myself too.  However, if you are in a divorce, or are considering filing for divorce, you really should be very careful about what information you put on the internet.  Contact me to find out how I can be of further help with these issues.

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