Thoughts on the Facebook comment system on HTO

Judging from comments and letters to the editor, some folks are unhappy with the fact that the Herald-Times is using Facebook for comments, and others are concerned about privacy. To help clear that up: The H-T did not “find” anyone’s Facebook page. The browser you use automatically logs you in to the Facebook comment plugin. No one knows you have viewed comments unless you actually post.

Furthermore, no one has access to your Facebook posts other than those allowed to see them in your privacy settings and depending on how tightly your privacy settings are locked down people may not be able to see much on your public profile. That includes your employer, which some people were concerned about. But that can be fixed by not listing your employer on Facebook. You can hide what pages you like and follow, hide your friends list, and other things. You can also show those things.

Facebook’s privacy settings can be a little difficult, because they are not all in one place, but everything has an option for “me only” or “friends” or “friends of friends” or “public” or even specific lists. While some people might be tempted to do this for HTO comments, it is against Facebook Terms of Service to set up an entirely new “dummy” Facebook profile in order to comment using a separate browser.

That said, nothing you put on the Internet is truly private. A good rule of thumb is to never put anything on Facebook (or Twitter, or Google Plus, or MySpace, or Yahoo 360, etc.) that you would be horrified to see on the front page of the newspaper, as the lead story on the evening news, or as the top story on your favorite news website. Discretion is always a good idea.

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