“Please do me a favor and move your mouse over my name here, wait for the box to load and then move your mouse over the “Subscribe” link. Then uncheck the “Comments and Likes”. I would really rather that my comments on friends and families posts not be made public, thank You! Then re-post this if you don’t want your every single move posted on the right side in the “Ticker Box” for everyone to see!”
With Facebook’s introduction of the “ticker” which broadcasts latest updates in real time such as “likes”, comments to posts and photos and status update changes, comes a lot of confusion and controversy not helped by inaccurate messages like the one above beginning to circulate.
It’s actually a rather confusing situation, but we will try and explain it best we can.
Firstly, as many will now know, Facebook have rolled out the “ticker” which is at the top right hand corner of your Facebook page, above your list of contacts. It displays updates as they happen in real time. However many have started complaining that people they have never heard of have started to appear in their ticker. Many claim it’s because of errors in the ticker and others claim its privacy invasion. However, technically it’s neither, well not really anyway.
In fact the reason it happens is because of how certain Facebook users have their privacy settings set up. To make it easier to explain, we have set up an example.
Firstly, we have 3 Facebook users, Tom, Mary and Dave.
Tom knows Mary. Mary knows Dave. Tom and Dave do not know each other. Mary is the “connecting friend”, if you see what we mean.
Now Dave’s privacy settings are not exactly stringent. They are set to Public. This means anyone can see, for example, his status updates if they went to his Facebook profile. Now imagine Dave updates his status and Mary – being his Facebook friend – comments on the status. This has nothing to do with Tom, who doesn’t even know Dave, but because he is friends with Mary, this “story” will appear in Tom’s ticker, including Dave’s status update and Mary’s comment.
This can be potentially annoying to all 3 of our users.
Tom doesn’t want to see this story as it is irrelevant to him.
Dave might not want his status broadcast on Tom’s ticker.
Mary may not want her comment to Dave’s status broadcast to Tom (or her other friends).
With us so far?
The problem is down to Dave’s privacy settings. If Dave set his privacy settings to Friends, Mary would still see his status and could comment on it because she is Dave’s friend. However it would not appear on Tom’s ticker, or the tickers of Mary’s other friends (unless they too were friends of Dave) However Mary’s comment and Dave’s status has been broadcast to all of her friends via the ticker, because it was made on a status set to public.
Now imagine you are Mary and you do not want your comments or likes to be broadcast to your friends. The advice in the message above will certainly not solve this problem. If Mary posts it, the friends that follow the instructions will not see her comment/like activity, but her other friends still will, and more importantly, so will the friends of friends. The only solution is to get Dave to make sure his status updates etc. are set to Friends only, or for Mary to avoid posting on public/’friend of friend’ posts.
If you’re Dave, and you’re worried that your status updates are going to be broadcast to people you do not know, change your privacy settings! This can easily be done by clicking the down arrow by Home and clicking Privacy Settings and selecting Friends.
If you’re Mary and you do not want your comments or likes to status updates being published to your friends, make sure the update you are commenting on was shared by the poster (Dave) with Friends only (see image below). You can do this by hovering over the icon on the bottom right of the post. If Friends or Custom appears then it is safe to make a comment without it being broadcast to people you don’t know. If it says public or friends of friends, then it will be broadcast to people you do not know.
The image above illustrates a post that is shared with FRIENDS ONLY. This mean if you are friends with the poster, any comment you make will ONLY appear to the posters friends, and will not be broadcast onto the ticker feeds of “friends of friends” i.e. strangers.
It’s complicated, we know, but the solution to the problem is simple – if you do not want your comments to be sent to strangers through the ticker then only comment on posts that are shared with Friends only – this way your comment is only made available to the friends of the original poster – same as before the ticker was there!
Additionally we recommend your own privacy settings are set to Friends only to stop your updates from being broadcast to strangers when your friends comment on them. The ticker isn’t showing anything that wasn’t publicly available before, but it is making certain information more accessible to people who may not have otherwise seen it before the tickers implementation.
Also worth noting is that posts you make onto a friends wall which is public (or a Page which are public by default) are also considered public and can come up on the ticker feed. This is because the post you made would have been “viewable” to the public anyway. Another reason to make your Wall private (friends only)
The message shown at the top however, should not be circulated, as it is not accurate.