How to lock down Facebook privacy — and zip your lips

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In the current era of data mining, account hacking and identity theft, cyber-security has never been more important. And an area that many people leave insanely unprotected is social media, Facebook in particular. Crooks have begun using social media in a variety of ways, from pulling our personal information for identity theft, to paying attention to when you go on vacation in order to rob you while you’re away. And employers (even though they’re not supposed t0) ARE checking your profiles, people.

Fortunately, there are several simple steps that can be taken to lock down your Facebook account and slam the digital door in the face of would-be thieves and other prying eyes.

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Facebook launches verified pages and profiles to help users identify authentic accounts

celebrityFacebook today announced the launch of verified pages and profiles, which will make it easier for users to find official fan pages and accounts for top brands, celebrities, government officials and other public figures.

Like on Twitter, verified accounts on Facebook will be denoted with a small blue icon with a checkmark in it. It will appear next to the user or page’s name on their Timeline, in search results and elsewhere around Facebook.

For now, users and page owners cannot request to have their accounts verified. Instead, Facebook is proactively verifying the pages and profiles with the largest audiences.

verified-account
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Facebook tests new ways to encourage users to add movies to their ‘watched’ lists

moviesFacebook is testing new sidebar modules to prompt users to share the movies they have seen.

With the latest Timeline redesign Facebook has given users an About page with sections for movies, music, books and more. Instead of only displaying the items people “like,” these sections will show what users have “read,” “listened to,” “watched” or “want to watch.” The social network has been trying a number of ways to get users familiar with these new sections and encourage them to fill them in. Most recently, users have begun to see movie suggestions in the right hand column of Facebook.com.

Reader Matteo Gamba shared the following screenshot with us. It asks users whether they have seen a particular movie and gives them “yes” or “no” options. The header “add to movies,” implies that answering “yes” will add the film to the user’s movies section, but some users might not fully understand this and later be surprised to learn that the movie appears on their Timeline and in friends’ News Feeds.

have you watched this_

Another option we’ve seen is a list of films with a plus sign and the word “watched.” This version of the module also includes the movie’s People Talking About This count.

watched-prompt

As we’ve covered previously, other ways users can add movies to their sections include directly from News Feed stories or friends’ Timelines. There are also ways to do this from mobile.

By getting user to connect with more things they care about or have experienced, Facebook can improve ad targeting, News Feed relevancy, Graph Search and recommendations.

Timeline gets new section for Groups

groupsFacebook is rolling out a new Groups section of Timeline today to allow users to share and highlight the groups that they’re a part of, a company spokesperson tells us.

With the latest Timeline redesign, Facebook overhauled the About page so that it’s one long page with different content-specific sections. Users have more options to show off their favorite movies, books and music, as well as their fitness activity and other stories they’ve shared through Open Graph apps. Users can also pick which sections appear on their profile and the order in which they appear.

groups-timeline

The new Groups section will only display “open groups” that users have joined. If a user was added or invited to a group but didn’t accept, it will not appear on the person’s Timeline. Closed or private groups will also be hidden. The point is to highlight the groups that users might represent part of their identity and to help their friends find groups that they might be interested in joining.

Since the new Timeline began rolling out, Facebook has also added a Games section and hidden the Events section while it addresses a bug.

Facebook brings ‘watched,’ ‘want to read’ and other buttons to mobile feed

open graph actionsWith the new Timeline, Facebook users can share richer stories about the books, movies, TV shows and music in their lives.

The social network is beginning to get to the vision it set out at the expansion of Open Graph in 2011. Users don’t have to Like a book, they can read it. Similarly, they can watch a movie or listen to an artist. The latest profile redesign helps users list what they’ve read, watched or listened to, but also what they want to read, watch and listen to.

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a number of new ways Facebook is helping users fill out these sections of their About page, including through desktop News Feed stories and Timeline modules. Now we’ve seen options on mobile, too. In the past, it hasn’t been very easy for users to update their profiles from mobile besides Liking things in the feed. Now, it’s easier to add a range of new information just by browsing News Feed and tapping a few buttons.

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Facebook profile bug prevents users from seeing Events on Timeline

eventsAs Facebook rolls out its new Timeline design, some users have noticed that there’s no longer a way to display events they’re attending or view the events their friends have RSVP’d to. A Facebook engineer says this is a bug and the company is working on a fix.

In the old layout, users could access an events tab similar to what is currently available on business and fan pages. With the redesign, which only applies to user profiles, tabs have a new look and several new ones have been added for movies, books, fitness and apps. Events were part of this when the company initially launched the new design, but at some point in the past two weeks it stopped working.

Facebook product engineer Bob Baldwin answered a question on Reddit today about the issue. He said there is a bug that events lead Ed Maia is working to fix before re-enabling the module.

[Update: Privacy advocacy group Europe-v-Facebook.org explains that when the events module first rolled out, it revealed a user's past public events, which had not been previously available to a user's friends or other users from Timeline. The group says it notified Facebook of this issue. It is unclear whether the events bug Baldwin mentioned is related.]

events-about-module

Screenshot from Matt Navarra.

Facebook gives users new ways to add movies, books and more to Timeline

open graph actionsAs the new Timeline and News Feed rolls out to more users, Facebook is providing more ways for users to share stories about the books, movies, TV shows and music in their lives. This week we found ways for users to add movies to their “watched” or “want to watch” lists directly from News Feed. Users can also do the same for other content they find on friends’ profiles.

For example, when users see stories in News Feed about items friends have added to their Timeline, they can click a plus button in the corner of the item and select a list to add it to and who to share it with. This became available for music stories last week, and this week we saw it become part of movie-related stories, such as the one below.

These features encourage users to connect with more pages, which ultimately improves the social network’s ad targeting, search results, News Feed relevance and recommendations.

add-to-movies-NF
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Facebook rolling out games section of Timeline

gamesFacebook is adding a new section to users’ About pages on their Timeline that showcases the social games they play.

The games section is similar to the movies, books, TV and music sections launched with the latest profile redesign earlier this month. It displays the games users have recently played and all those that they’ve Liked. Users can customize the order of their About page to feature games more prominently near the top or hide it completely.

However, unlike those other sections for entertainment, the games section does not include a list of games users “want to play.”

game-collections-v1

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Facebook adds ‘listen later’ button to music stories in the feed

musicFacebook has added a “Listen Later” button to Open Graph music stories in the feed, allowing users to fill out a new section of their About page.

The feature becomes available when users hover over a story about friend’s listening activity on Facebook-connected services like Spotify or Rdio. Users can click the small plus sign, which will bring up the “Listen Later” option and a way to adjust the privacy settings of the story. We have not seen examples of “Read Later” or “Watch Later” buttons in the feed, but these could be coming or already in testing, considering that the new About page also includes “Want to Watch” and “Want to Read” sections.

listen-later-new-news-feed
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Facebook tests another Timeline layout with elements from new and old designs

profileAlthough Facebook publicly announced a new Timeline layout last week with posts in a single column on the right and customizable modules to the left, some users are seeing another design, which is more of a hybrid of the new and old Timeline.

Blink VP Planning and Media Eti Suruzon says her profile was updated Wednesday, but it doesn’t look like the version Facebook has launched to others. The cover photo design and navigation bar beneath it are the same as what the social network debuted last week, but the posts continue to appear in a two-column layout as they were previously.

new_timeline_test

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