Unofficial Guide to FB Privacy and Security Shared – Question and No Privacy


Should Facebook make ALL users aware that their ‘Questions’ don’t have any privacy settings at all?

Facebook recently launched a new product called Questions.   It allows users to post questions about anything they want.  But has Facebook done enough to make all users aware that their questions can be seen by anyone, regardless of their personal privacy settings?  When you answer a Question, do you take into account that teachers, employers, college applicant staff  – in fact anyone might see it?  You may have hidden your profile information from the prying eyes of strangers, but your questions and answers could provide a very telling insight into your personal views and personal life.   Users posting a question would expect it to be published to their friends, but do they realize that once their friends answer it, their  friends friends will have it posted to their feeds too and so on?   Which seems to be the point of the product so as to allow as many people to answer the question as possible.  What we’re asking is, has Facebook done enough to make sure everyone knows the deal?
This is a profile with ‘Friends Only’ settings:
And this is how the profile looks after posing a question:
As you can see, there is no way to hide your Questions, regardless of your usual wall settings.
It is a simple product to use.  Users click on the ‘Question’ button on their status update box and post their question.  They can also add a ‘poll’ option to allow people to choose from possible answers to their question.  For example if my question was ‘What is your favourite ice cream?’, I could add flavour options for people to choose from.  And Facebook has also incorporated a link system within answers shown in the link above where  Facebook’s Scott Lippert posted the question, ‘What is the best International Relief organization for me to donate to?’.  A user can link them to a Facebook page representing their answer such as Red Cross.  More detail can be found in Facebook’s Blog post.
On the surface this really is a really cool product.  However looking more closely at Scott Lippert’s Questions section, and in particular his answer to the question  ‘Why don’t websites like Facebook and Twitter require HTTPS for all connections?’ , one can see that his and Facebook’s views aren’t always in sync.  If Scott were to seek employment elsewhere, would a potential employer checking his Facebook profile see his initial answer as argumentative/ opposing the strategy of his company, and in turn discard his application?  Or would they bother to look at the whole thread and see that this may have been the catalyst for Facebook’s eventual decision to in fact act upon Scott’s desire for Facebook to provide secure browsing?  Either way his comment; ‘I don’t speak for the company, just myself. It was actually me being sarcastic about the fact that things are still this way. In other words, I agree with you =).’ could be viewed as provocative to a potential employer.  We might all have Scott to thank for secure browsing on Facebook, but would he be given the chance to explain that at an interview should he decide to take his talents elsewhere?
And this is what users need to be fully aware of when posting and answering questions.  It doesn’t matter if your privacy settings are locked down to ‘chastity belt’ or if you have turned off platform apps.  Anything ‘Questions’ related will be viewed by anyone who can see that profile.
There is absolutely no doubt that some questions have to be posted to a wider audience.  It is the main purpose of this product.  Questions about holiday destinations or protocols when visiting certain countries might not be answerable by your friends alone.  Users might want to induce healthy debate or target a question to a specific company in hopes of enlightenment, however this post simply asks should Facebook have informed all users clearly that regardless of their settings, any question they post or any question they answer might be viewed by anybody?  And should they offer the option of a privacy setting so that some more private questions can be seen only be personal friends?
Facebook does provide a tiny question mark icon which users can click for more info when posing a question:
They are informed ‘Use Questions to get recommendations, conduct polls and learn from your friends and other people on Facebook’. Does including the term ‘other people on Facebook’ really put across to users that everyonewill see their question or answer?  Or will most users believe that questions will follow the rules of their privacy settings, and assume that the other people on Facebook only applies to those who have their wall set to show ‘Everyone’?
Also Facebook appears to have made a layout gaffe.  Unless the question poster clicks on the ‘Add poll options’link, they will not see the check-box which says ‘Allow anyone to add options’. This means that anybody who sees the question can alter it by adding their own poll options without the question-posters permission.   This check-box should be viewable even when only posting a question if keeping it checked by default means anyone can alter the original Question premise. 
Did you assume that any question you posted would only be seen by the people authorized to see your wall?
Would you prefer Facebook to give ‘Questions’ privacy settings so you can choose which you want to be seen by everyone for a broader response, and which you would prefer only your friends to see?
We posted the latter question to our Facebook page.  You can check the results of our poll for yourself.

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