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Simple guide on how to reclaim your lost privacy

As a Kenyan, why should I be wary of facebook privacy controls? I always get amazed at how naive most of us (facebook users) are when it comes to these controls.

Facebook (fb), has made quiet changes to its privacy settings, ones that an 'ordinary' Kenyan needs to understand if they are going to manage the distribution of our personal information. I find Facebook useful, mostly as a way to stay in touch with a select set of my friends and former co-workers.

Wired for Work: Get a Job FAST using LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter

It's not my public soapbox nor a window into my personal life, left open to the world — for that, I have blogs and Twitter.

As much as I like Facebook, it has a flaw that I'll never see in my blogs and hopefully never see with Twitter. It seems the proprietors of fb find it necessary, desirable, or profitable to change member privacy settings, usually with little notice to members.

In every case I can think of, privacy settings have become more relaxed — more open, if you will.

What's beneficial for fb, however, is not necessarily good for Kenyans — their personal information might end up in places they never intended. The world is filled with marketers who would love to know increasingly more about you. And if that doesn't concern you, the world also contains stalkers and hackers who might use that personal information toward evil ends.

As  a facebook enthusiast. like myself, you should take your fb (or any other social network) privacy as seriously as you do protection from malware on your PC.

Keep in mind that all the big social networks continually tweak privacy settings. This is not just a Facebook problem.

A simple tutorial on how to reclaim your privacy

This very brief tutorial will show you how to disable face book's latest Open Graph service.

It is an attempt to link Facebook users to other parts of the web by sharing their "likes" and other activities across a number of different sites.

How does one block the new feature?

  1. First, sign in to facebook. From your Account drop-down list, select Privacy Settings.

         2. Click the Applications and Websites link.

       3. Click the Edit Setting button in the Instant Personalization section.

    4. Remove the check from the box labeled Allow select partners to instantly personalize their features with my public information with I first arrive on their websites.

   5. When prompted, click the Confirm button.

  6. Remove the check mark from every single item listed and then click the Save Changes button.

  7. Now you have to disable the 3 initial partners that Facebook is working with. Start out by heading to the Facebook Docs page. On the left side of that page, locate the Block Application link, and click it.

9. Click Block Docs when prompted.

10. Now you’ll need to block two other Facebook apps as well –the Pandora app and the Yelp app.

11. That’s it – you’re done. There’s only one minor problem. Docs, Pandora and Yelp are just the first 3 external sites that have this “shared integration” – more will certainly come in the future. And you’ll want to block those as well. Facebook has an FAQ that will hopefully be updated as new sites are introduced. So you may want to bookmark that page and check it every once in a while.

12. After you’ve disabled this service, how sure are you that you have control over your information? You need to scan quickly all of your Facebook Privacy settings with a Scan for privacy 'tool.

A simple tutorial on how to scan your privacy 

1. The “tool” is an open source bookmarklet That means that anyone can view the code the script is made up of – so it is absolutely safe to use. It also happens to be very easy to install. Simply visit On that page, click the Scan for Privacy link and hold down your mouse button. While holding the button down, drag it to your browsers Bookmarks Bar and let go of the mouse button.

2. Make sure that you now have a Scan for Privacy book in your Bookmarks Bar

3. Now visit Facebook and sign in. Once you’re signed in, click the Scan for Privacy bookmark button.

4. The script will now scan through all of your Facebook Privacy settings, and return the results in a frame above your Facebook page.

If it returns any results with a caution setting – you’ll want to review it carefully. As seen in the image below, my Facebook account had two privacy issues – some of my contact information was exposed to the entire Internet, and some of my friends, tags and connections were also visible to the Internet as well.

Click the link provided in each section to adjust its privacy settings. Again, as an example, to fix my contact information not being displayed to the Internet, I clicked the contact settings link.

Note: - It's possible that privacy problems, user backlash and the need to generate revenue will create a toxic stew that erodes trust in facebook, minimize the risks of being a victim in such scenarios.


  1. Anonymous9:30 AM

    Simply to protect your privacy, turn your fb profile to stealth mode. How? by using the above guide, change the entire drop down from your privacy settings to friends only.


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