• Educating the consumer about their online privacy

    The DataBanker Privacy Informer browser extension for Facebook provides an analysis of your Facebook privacy settings based on innovative privacy scoring methods. The extension is currently available as an incomplete “demo” that triggers when the browser loads the Facebook Privacy Settings page. The extension extracts information from that page, and other privacy related pages, categorizes the information and applies the scoring algorithm prior to displaying the results. Unfortunately, with demoing as its sole purpose, the extension will trigger every time the Facebook Privacy Settings page is loaded. Please excuse the poor user interaction experience. It will be improved upon in future versions.

    The creation of a privacy risk score for Facebook immediately encounters the difficult issues that are core to the privacy debate currently occurring between policy makers, consumers and consumer products and services marketers. For most Facebook members, finding others and having them find you, is a primary purpose of joining. A second important purpose is sharing life events and personal thoughts. In short, you want to be found and understood by those you want to find an understand you, and nobody else!

    Facebook doesn’t charge for this service and instead makes their money by providing information on their members to product marketers, analysts and researchers. There are alternate monetization models Facebook could use, such as the consumer controlled data marketplace model we at DataBanker are working to build, but the current model profits from, and creates incentives for, consumers disclosing more and more about themselves.

    The purpose of DataBanker Privacy Informer apps is to provide guidance on how you chose to expose your information so that may effectively control it. “Control” in the context of Facebook means that you increase your personal benefit from what you expose, while limiting the propagation of that information to those who may use it in ways that do not benefit you.

    The Facebook privacy model puts several control mechanisms into your hands, but it is important to understand that your friends also share in the ability to control or expose your information. If your friend allows their friends, and Facebook apps that they use, to view your information, you have a limited ability to block it. With the average Facebook member having 130 friends, they probably already realize that there are at least a few privacy knuckleheads in their network. Extend that potential for risky exposure to the friends of your friends, and the games that they play, and you begin to understand how effective privacy has to be a community effort. DataBanker urges you to play nice and limit the exposure of your friends information through understanding and controlling your privacy settings.

    Below are descriptions of the privacy settings that the Privacy Informer analyzes and that you are able to control through Facebook.

    Settings that impact what your friends see


    [Mandatory] How useful would Facebook be if you didn’t use your real name, or an alias that everyone knows you by. We all know that your name identifies you, but Facebook wouldn’t work without it.

    Profile Photo

    [Mandatory] You can use any graphic image you want as long as it doesn’t violate community standards or affect someone’s copyright. Think about the image that your picture presents before you start the upload.


    [Mandatory] Select the identifier that most closely matches your particular situation. Too bad Facebook doesn’t allow contextual switching of this setting for different sets of friends.

    Friends Network

    [Mandatory] Depending on your p[rivacy settings, your friends, and potentially all Facebook users will see your network of friends. It’s a heavy responsibility, please don’t take it lightly.

    Facebook ID

    Tracking apps and hackers may find this information useful. Your personal friends, excluding those of your friends who are corporations, will not find this information very useful. It’s low risk data and the risk can be further reduced through the privacy settings that also control higher risk data.

    Your Status, Photos, and Posts

    Let your friends see this. Do friends of friends adn all of Facebook really need to know?

    Bio and Favorite Quotations

    Your bio can reveal current and past data describing your schools, jobs, income category, home location, and will be fact-checked by potential employers and the parents of future dates. Most Facebook members would be better off limiting the amount of information they place in their bio. Those who use Facebook heavily for professional reasons will want ot include more complete information

    Family and Relationships

    Think about how many of your secure online logins ask for your mother’s maiden name before you fill this information in. And, remember that your siblings and cousins will also be impacted by what you disclose here.

    Photos and Videos that You are Tagged In

    • Church group pictures – Great!
    • 1AM pictures from the streets of Hoboken – NOT Great!

    Consider your photo-embarrassment quotient ten years from now before cranking this setting up to 11.

    Religion and Political Views

    OK to show for those who are members of their local majority, sometimes problematic for those who aren’t. For those who use Facebook for professional reasons, unless your job is in politics or organized religion, shut this data down.


    Those who should know, know. Those who shouldn’t, really want this information. NEVER give your real birthdate online when it is not mandatory and fact-checked.

    Permission to Comment On Your Posts

    Most members will want to let their friends comment on their posts. Expanding this to friends-of-friends raises the potential knucklehead quotient too high for comfort. If you have friends who love to expound on politics and religion to any available audience, you should consider how that looks to others who may be able to view your wall. Also remember the cardinal rule of the internet: In an online argument, nobody wins.

    Places You Check In To

    Most people can understand allowing others to see where you are in some very limited contexts. Few people want to allow everyone to see where they are at all times. Worry about apps that automatically check you in.

    Contact Information

    Good for business purposes. Otherwise, shut this data risk down

    Let Friends of People Tagged in My Photos See Them

    Be nice, don’t post pictures you don’t  want your friends’ mothers to see. And remember that internet karma will get you, too, if you post revenge-pics.