Facebook changes stir privacy debate

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Web Editor - Michael Vick
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

PADUCAH — Millions of us use it every day to stay connected to family and friends.

But the latest changes on Facebook have some users scratching their heads and others pulling out their hair.

At a September conference, the company unveiled a slew of upgrades they say will make sharing easier — everything from a live ticker of what your friends are doing on the site, to a new timeline profile that showcases every important event in your life.

But these changes have privacy advocates crying foul.

So, how can you enjoy the new features and stay safe at the same time? Well, it turns out, a little education goes a long way.

You'll see the most drastic change when you load up your profile. Soon, it won't just show the latest posts you've made to the site. Instead, it will provide a timeline of your entire life, starting with the day you were born and potentially including every major event that's ever happened to you.

On almost every page, you'll see a live ticker of everything your friends are doing on Facebook, making it simple to interact with them the moment they make a post.

But, depending on your privacy settings, your posts could appear in the ticker of you friends' friends, people you may have never met.

Meanwhile, all those apps we use to watch movies, listen to music and catch up on the news have become more social, too. Not only can you now do all these things without ever leaving Facebook, but you also only have to give an app permission to post to your timeline once. After that, it will automatically share what you're doing for all your friends to see.

But if you want to keep this information private, there are some pretty simple safeguards. All you have to do is take advantage of them.

First, make sure nothing appears on your timeline you don't want people to see. You can remove a post from your timeline by clicking the drop-down menu in the upper right hand corner of the post.

You can also click the "View Activity" tab at the top of your timeline to see everything you've posted since you joined Facebook. This activity log is only visible to you. From there, you can post things to your timeline, hide them from your timeline, or delete them altogether.

Next, make sure only your friends can see your posts. Click on "privacy settings" in the upper right and set your default privacy to "Friends". When you post things to Facebook, you can restrict access to those posts even further by limiting which of your friends can see the post.

Finally, when you give an app permission to post to your timeline, read the permission settings carefully. You can set it so only your friends see what you're reading, watching and listening to, hide it from all but your closest friends, or even set it so only you can see.

Facebook's new settings make it easier to stay connected with your friends and share your entire life with the ones you love. If you take a few simple steps, you can make sure they're the only ones you're sharing with.

For more information on how to take advantage of Facebook's new features and take control of your privacy, click here.

Head to Facebook to find out more about the new changes and to enable them.

What do you think about the new features? Sound off below.

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