Facebook Privacy Settings 2005 Facebook Privacy Settings 2006

Facebook Privacy Settings 2007Facebook Privacy Settings Nov 2009

Facebook Privacy Settings Dec 2009 Facebook Privacy Settings 2010

What Works

If you are a New York Times reader or a facebook user you are probably aware that Facebook periodically makes changes to their privacy policy. These changes often anger advocates for privacy who then write articles about why they are upset and which settings Facebook users should change in order to protect their online privacy. There are also ongoing debates about whether or not it would be measurably detrimental to simply delete one’s Facebook account as well as whether or not there will continue to be social stigma related to pictures and wall posts of activities that are common enough (drinking, wearing bathing suits, sleeping in, telling little white lies).

Regardless of where you stand, it has been a little hard to understand just how Facebook’s privacy changes are, well, changes. The series of graphics above eliminate the need to read dry legalese (or even those New York Times articles) and allow us to see the changes. The graphic is interactive and I encourage you to click through and play around with it. Among it’s great features, it allows you to select the privacy settings so that you can see just which bits of your personal data you can still protect and which bits are out of your cyber control.

What Needs Work

There is nothing that needs work about this graphic – the author explains his methods and assumption, invites comments, provided this graphic from the motivation to make information free, and he provides full-disclosure about what he does for his day job (works for IBM Research at the Center for Social Software).


Holson, Laura. (8 May 2010) Tell-All Generation Learns to Keep Things Offline. In The New York Times, Fashion & Style Section.

McKeon, Matt. (May 2010) The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook. Personal website.

Nussbaum, Emily. (12 February 2007) Say Everything. New York Magazine, Features.

Perez, Sarah. (20 January 2010) The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now. In The New York Times, Technology Section.

Valentino-DeVries, Jennifer. (26 April 2010) http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2010/04/26/getting-control-of-your-facebook-privacy-settings/tab/article/. In the Wall Street Journal, Digits Section.