Facebook Hoax: "I Want to Stay Privately Connected"

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of 01
As posted on Facebook, Sep. 12, 2012:

I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you
Netlore Archive: Viral messages purport to instruct Facebook members on how to change privacy settings so their comments and likes won't be publicly visible. Facebook.com

Description: Viral message / Rumor
Circulating since: 2011 (various versions)
Status: False (see details below)

See also: Facebook "Graph App" Privacy Alert

Text example #1:
As shared on Facebook, Sep. 12, 2012:

To all my FB friends, may I request you to please do something for me: I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. However, with the recent changes in FB, the public can now see activities in any wall. This happens when our friend hits "like" or "comment", automatically, their friends would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it this way. So I need your help. Only you can do this for me. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (do not click), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS" (also without clicking), then down to "Settings", click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on "COMMENTS & LIKE" by clicking on it. By doing this, my activity amongst my friends and my family will no longer become public. Many thanks! Paste this on your wall so your contacts would follow suit too, that is, if you care about your privacy.

 

Text example #2:
As shared on Facebook, Jan. 12, 2012:

I would like to keep my FB private except to those I am friends with. So if you all would do this I'd appreciate it. With the new FB timeline on its way this week for EVERYONE, please do both of us a favor: Hover over my name above. In a few seconds, you'll see a box that says "Subscribed". Hover over that, then go to "Comments and Likes" and unclick it. That will stop my posts and yours to me from showing up on the side bar for everyone to see, but most importantly, it limits hackers from invading our profiles. If you repost this, I will do the same for you. You'll know I've acknowledged you because if you tell me that you've done it, I'll "like" it.



Analysis: Beware of "helpful" shared messages purporting to explain how you can protect your privacy, avoid scams, hackers, or viruses, or otherwise enhance your Facebook security. All too often the recommendations contained therein are flat-out wrong and the opposite of helpful.

Consider, for example, the instructions below, which will supposedly cause all your comments and likes to be hidden from public view:

PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (do not click), a window will appear and move the mouse on "Friends" (also without clicking), then down to "Settings", click here and a list will appear. Click "Comments and Like" and it would thereby remove the CHECK. By doing this my activity amongst my friends and my family does not become public.

I tried this. All it did was remove my friend's comments and likes from my timeline — which isn't the same as making them private.

The reality is that if you want to stop your comments and likes from being seen by the general public, you have to ask your friends to change their privacy settings, not simply hide your posts from their timeline. See Sophos.com for detailed instructions.

Update: Facebook 'Graph App' Privacy Alert - A new version of this message claims Facebook users' privacy will be compromised by the new Graph Search feature and gives the same bad advice for fixing it.

Related: Facebook Copyright Notice wall postings purport to protect members' ownership of the content they post on Facebook.

Sources and further reading:

Facebook Privacy Settings Tutorial
About.com: Social Media

Three Simple Settings to Make Facebook Private and Protect Your Personal Info
About.com: Social Media

[Hoax Alert] To All My FB Friends...I Want to Stay PRIVATELY Connected
FaceCrooks.com, 10 September 2012

Facebook's Ticker Privacy Scare, and What You Should Do About It
Sophos Naked Security, 26 September 2011

Last updated 05/17/13