Remember the mass scare on Facebook a while back where almost everyone changed their status to “I want to stay connected to you PRIVATELY, but you need to uncheck this that and the other”? It has come around again, but this time it’s a meme about Facebook’s “Graphic App”. And guess what? It’s yet another completely pointless pile of rubbish tips that won’t protect anyone from anything. The first giveaway is in the supposed “Graphic App”, which doesn’t actually exist. From there on it just gets more and more silly.
The “Graphic App” Update Spiel
Here’s what it says:
Hello to all of you who are on my list of contacts of Facebook. I would like to ask a favour of you. You may not know that Facebook has changed its privacy configuration once again. Thanks to the new “Graphic app”, any person in Facebook anywhere in the world can see our photos, our “likes” and our “comments”. During the next two weeks, I am going to keep this message posted and I ask you to do the following and comment “DONE”. Those of my friends who do not maintain my information in private will be eliminated from my list of friends, because I want the information I share with you, my friends, to remain among my friends and not be available to the whole world. I want to be able to publish photos of my friends and family without strangers being able to see them which is what happens now when you choose “like” or “comment”. Unfortunately we cannot change this configuration because Facebook has made it like this. So, please, place your cursor over my photo that appears in this box (without clicking) and a window will open. Now move the cursor to the word “Friends”, again without clicking and then on “Settings”. Uncheck “Life Events” and “Comments and Like”. This way my activity with my family and friends will no longer be made public. Now, copy and paste this text on your own wall (do not “share” it!). Once I see it published on your page, I will un-check the same for you. Thanks so much!
Debunking The Spiel
Yes, this is a hoax — another Facebook Myth. It may have been started with good intentions, but in reality it just makes people think that they’re safe when they aren’t. That, and it makes friends jump through a bunch of useless hoops to supposedly protect a friend and maintain their friendship. Let’s walk you through what’s actually going on here.
There is no such thing as the “Graphic App”. They most likely mean to refer to Facebook Graph Search, which has recently been opened up to everyone using the US dictionary. Graph Search makes it easy to search for things that are available for you to view on Facebook. For instance, you could search for “Photos of my friends liked by my friends” in order to view a good collection of the best photos of your friends. This may involve viewing photos uploaded by people you don’t know, but only if that person’s privacy settings allow it.
What Are You Actually Doing By Following These Steps?
The spiel tells you to hover over their photo, then hover over “Friends” and “Settings”, then uncheck “Life Events” and “Comments and Like”. These settings are actually used to change what you see from said friend. So, if I follow these instructions, I will no longer see “Comments and Likes” or “Life Events” from this friend. I’ll still see the other things they post, but I’ve essentially told Facebook that I don’t want to see those particular things from this person. This is what you should do if you are sick of seeing your friend posting about their new job, adding dozens of “Me too” comments or liking everything they see. And yes, you do see these things if you’re watching the ticker feed.
What Are These People Trying To Stop, Exactly?
What these instructions don’t do is what they claim to do. These instructions will not stop strangers from seeing the things your friend shared that their friends liked. To be a little less confusing, consider the following scenario:
Fred is worried about his Facebook privacy, as he heard that strangers might be able to see his life events, comments and likes. If Fred hasn’t locked down his privacy settings and isn’t careful about where he comments and what he likes, this may be true. If Fred comments on or likes a public update by Bill, the comment or like may be seen by anyone who has liked Bill’s update, commented on Bill’s update or is friends with Bill. They may see this in their ticker feed, on their home page, on Bill’s Timeline or in the results of a search. Fred should protect his privacy by refraining from commenting on or liking public posts.
Instead, Fred re-posts this fancy spiel about the “Graphic App” and hopes that all his friends follow the instructions, then mumbles to himself about Facebook wanting to expose all of his private data. He hopes he won’t have to un-friend all of his friends in two weeks when he finds they haven’t followed these instructions.
What Should You Do Instead?
For starters, lock down your profile to be “Friends-only” using Facebook’s privacy settings. You can even change all your old posts to follow suit if you like. This step is as much for your privacy as it is for your friends’ (as you’ll see in the next step).
Next, talk to your friends about privacy settings and see if you can convince them to limit their profiles to “Friends-Only”. If they do this, this means that when you comment or like something of theirs it will be viewable to only your friends and their friends.
Read more about Facebook Graph Search and the best Graph Search privacy tips you can make use of. In particular, untag yourself from public photos or photos you don’t like. Check your timeline to see what things you’ve liked in the past and how public those likes are. Everything can be adjusted.
Finally, don’t like or post comments on public updates if you have a problem with people seeing that you’ve done this. Check before you comment on or like something. A public post will have an image of a globe on it. But keep in mind that even friends-locked posts can be made public later if the poster changes their settings. Always be prepared for these things to become more public down the track.
Have you seen a lot of these “Graphic App” updates? Were you tempted to re-post it?