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Terms of Engagement

Over its first five years, Facebook dramatically reduced its users’ privacy. Kurt Opsahl at the Electronic Frontier Foundation traced the evolution.

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Illustration by Tony Millionaire  

Privacy Policy, Ca. 2005: No personal information that you submit to TheFacebook will be available to any user of the website who does not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in your privacy settings.

Privacy Policy, Ca. 2006: We understand you may not want everyone in the world to have the information you share on Facebook; that is why we give you control of your information. Our default privacy settings limit the information displayed in your profile to your school, your specified local area, and other reasonable community limitations that we tell you about.

Privacy Policy, Ca. 2007: Profile information you submit to Facebook will be available to users of Facebook who belong to at least one of the networks you allow to access the information through your privacy settings (e.g., school, geography, friends of friends). Your name, school name, and profile picture thumbnail will be available in search results across the Facebook network unless you alter your privacy settings.

Privacy Policy, Ca. November 2009: Facebook is designed to make it easy for you to share your information with anyone you want. You decide how much information you feel comfortable sharing on Facebook and you control how it is distributed through your privacy settings. You should review the default privacy settings and change them if necessary to reflect your preferences. You should also consider your settings whenever you share information … Information set to “everyone” is publicly available information, may be accessed by everyone on the Internet (including people not logged into Facebook), is subject to indexing by third party search engines, may be associated with you outside of Facebook (such as when you visit other sites on the Internet), and may be imported and exported by us and others without privacy limitations. The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to “everyone.” You can review and change the default settings in your privacy settings.

Privacy Policy, Ca. December 2009: Certain categories of information such as your name, profile photo, list of friends and pages you are a fan of, gender, geographic region, and networks you belong to are considered ­publicly available to everyone, including ­Facebook-enhanced applications, and therefore do not have privacy settings. You can, however, limit the ability of others to find this information through search using your search privacy settings.

Privacy Policy, April 2010: When you connect with an application or website it will have access to General Information about you. The term General Information includes your and your friends’ names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting … The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to “everyone” … Because it takes two to connect, your privacy settings only control who can see the connection on your profile page. If you are uncomfortable with the connection being publicly available, you should consider removing (or not making) the connection.


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