I want to encourage people to do two things — recheck your Facebook privacy settings and read Somini Sengupta’s February 6th article in the New York Times (“Protecting Your Privacy on the New Facebook”; http://www.nytimes.com).  After you read the article, you’ll know why I’m encouraging you to confirm that you’ve got the Facebook privacy settings that you want.

The article discusses the new Facebook search tool that will enable people other than your friends to learn about you.  Facebook does allow you to tailor who has access to what on your Facebook page and in your profile. However, this well-written article is particularly helpful as it raises four questions Facebook users should ask themselves.  Based on those answers, a user can then decide if he or she wants to further refine his or her Facebook privacy settings — and, if so, how to do so for each of the specific questions.

So, for example, the article suggests a user might ask how much information he wants others, including strangers, to know about himself. Additionally, the article suggests that Facebook users think about whether they mind if advertisers can track them across the Internet.  Thinking about these, and the other questions raised in the article, will help Facebook users focus on their privacy comfort level.  A Facebook user who wants less personal information available can make changes in the “About me” section on his or her “Profile” page.

The article also discusses several commercially available tools that are designed to help users limit/and or control their online visibility.  I haven’t used any of them so am not vouching for them.  However, the article can provide a starting point if you want to limit the online information others can access about you.

You might not be concerned about whether people whom you haven’t “friended” can access information about you.  Even if that’s the case, take a few minutes to be sure that you’re comfortable with your Facebook profile and privacy settings.