Your Facebook status is not as private as you thought it was

Do you REALLY trust all your friends on your Facebook feed?  Recently Facebook has added a share link to status updates. Here’s an update I posted earlier on Facebook.

fb shares

You can see that it is really easy to share this text only post further.  Much further than you wanted it to if you have only sent the post to a limited number of friends in the first place.

From the help text these are the levels of sharing you can do:

  • Sharing with a broad audience: Use the share menu that’s located at the top of your homepage and timeline to let others know what’s on your mind. You can update your status and share photos, videos, links and other application content. Things you share will appear as posts on your timeline, and can appear in your news feed. To control whether or not specific people have the option to view your stories, you can change the privacy settings for each piece of content you post.
  • Sharing with a small group of friends: Use the Groups feature to share content with a select group of people, like family members, your soccer team or your book club.
  • Sharing with an individual: You can use the share menu at the top of a friend’s timeline to write or share something on his or her timeline. Friends of your friend will also be able to view your post. If you’d like to share something privately, you can always send someone a private message.

But sharing status updates that were never originally meant to be shared with a broader audience seems wrong. Having the ability to control whether that status update can be shared

This means that anyone who reads your Facebook status update can share it with, not only their friends, but make the status update public. Anyone else can then share this further.

The Facebook privacy page does not mention that status updates that you originally thought were just for your Facebook friends, now can be shared with anyone outside of your friends and their friends.

So be careful what you put on Facebook.  It might be reaching a much greater audience than you ever intended it to…

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5 thoughts on “Your Facebook status is not as private as you thought it was

  1. TechieBird

    A friend and I tried this on Friday – I created a status, permissioned it just for my friends, she shared it on her timeline, permissioned for her friends. We got a friend of hers (who isn’t a friend of mine) to check, and she couldn’t see the update my friend had shared.

    With a sample size of one it’s not exactly conclusive, but it was Friday evening and we all had better things to do than play with Facebook permissions (or at least we weren’t about to admit to each other if we didn’t)… would be interested to know if anyone else has put this to the test.

    1. eileenb Post author

      I tested it with a couple of friends and non friends. If you had set the status to public – and you can change the status when you share it– then it CAN be seen. I’ve just shared something on my timeline from someone I don’t follow that was shared by a FB friend of mine. It will appear on my FB feed as public meaning anyone can see it.
      perhaps your third friend missed the update? (you only see 15% of what gets shared on fb).
      Think we sould do more testing.. The help centre on fb has no information about this at all…

  2. segmation

    Hi Eileen,
    There is so much we don’t know about social media and facebook. Thanks for giving us a head’s up. Seems like facebook changes daily to me.

  3. Techiebird

    Just trying to think of a more conclusive test. If I post two statuses, one permission:Public and one permission:Friends, and my friend shares both, if *her* friend (not also friends with me) looks on my friend’s timeline by clicking her name, then the public one should definitely show up, right? If that’s the case then we just have to see if the ‘friends’ one also shows up.

    Might test later if I get time :)

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