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Privacy in this day and age is more and more uncertain. People who are trying to hide don’t always have something to hide. Unfortunately many people have individuals they are trying to stay away from online and in real life and the ever fluctuating privacy settings and terms and conditions of social media websites make that more and more difficult. Here is an update on some recent changes.

Twitter

What’s Changing: Twitter has released a new feature that will allow people to send and receive messages from those they are not currently connected with. However, this is an opt-in feature, meaning if you don’t want the option, you don’t have to worry about it. If for some reason you do the option button looks like this….

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If you can’t find it, that’s because it hasn’t been released to all accounts yet.

What You Need To Do: Nothing, as of right now. Since it’s opt-in, unless you check the button, you are still safe from spam DMs for the moment.

Facebook

What’s Changing: So currently Facebook has an option to allow you to block people from searching for you basically. Or at least you currently have that option still if you have used it in the past. If you never set those options Facebook has decided that you must not care and as already removed them. Soon, even those who have selected to be searchable by email address or name will also loose that layer of protection.

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You can still block people. But as some have pointed out, if you have a very persistent stalker that does not keep him/her from creating new accounts every time you block one. It puts the onus on you, which is extremely unfortunate since every new contact can be a new trigger. Yet Facebook things that by being on a “social network” you must want to be social with the entire planet.

What You Need To Do: Unfortunately there is no other way currently to block yourself from being searched for. Some options if you are really desperate are changing your Facebook name to something unrelated to your real name and only friending people you trust but that still leaves the option of being able to be found via someone else’s page (Not having your real picture helps a little with that) The option to not be included in third party search results looks like it will remain for now so you can at least keep your facebook off Google results. Facebook would like you to know you can still make each post viewable to select people but that of course doesn’t solve the overall issue of a stalker.

Google

What’s Changing: Something in the small print of Google’s terms and conditions are allowing them to use your profile picture as a means of endorsements in ads. Kind of like when Facebook says “Your friend XXXX likes Walmart”. This includes items/pages that you have reviewed, “plus-oned” or followed. You might not think that’s too big of a deal for people to know what you like but for example, I follow some pretty disgusting things/people on the internet in order to inform others about them and I really don’t want my Google+ page making it look like I endorse Westboro Baptist or something. This doesn’t take effect until November 1st and is not supposed to effect people under 18.

What You Need To Do: Well I guess it’s easy to say don’t follow or ping anything but we know in this day and age you are either linked in or left out. I don’t really use Google+ so I’m not very good on the ins and outs of it. But according to Google…

When it comes to shared endorsements in ads, you can control the use of your Profile name and photo via the Shared Endorsements setting. If you turn the setting to “off,” your Profile name and photo will not show up on that ad for your favorite bakery or any other ads. This setting only applies to use in ads, and doesn’t change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play.

If you previously told Google that you did not want your +1’s to appear in ads, then of course we’ll continue to respect that choice as a part of this updated setting. For users under 18, their actions won’t appear in shared endorsements in ads and certain other contexts.

So you need to be pro-active on this one. You have to opt-out by going to your settings.

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