One World

Facebook Rule 1: If you are ever surprised at your level of exposure it is because you are overexposed.

Let’s say you wish use FB with close friends and with more distant relationships,  perhaps with some individuals you’ve never met. You fill out all the fields in FB profile (for the most social experience with your close friends), and you then create a group called “Friends I’ve never met” and you customize your privacy settings, excluding this group from every single one of the sharing categories.

What information do you share with this sealed off group, apart from your specific interactions with them in their group? . . . .

Let’s consider the geography of FB “friends”

In the  pre-packaged (default) world of FB, there are three degrees of overlap: there’s “everybody,” (they have access to your posts, photos, status, biography, favorite quotations, family and relationships),  “friends of friends,” (in addition to what everyone has access to, this group also sees your religious and political declarations, and photos that you are tagged in.  Finally, the closest relationship is that of “friend” (in addition to the preceding privileges, they have access to your contact info and can post on your wall.  They can also check you into places).

See the diagrams below, where the ring of access increasingly thickens as the friends become increasingly central.

Facebook gives you the option to move all of the information from the intermediate and outer layer into the center, restricting the sharing of any information with no others but friends.

Envision compressing the three layers of information in the concentric circle above into a the smallest circle demarcating “friends only:”

And within this core group you can build lists to selectively exclude friends from any of the information listed above, which I represent below by bleaching out (selectively removing) information for some of my friends:

If you do not wish to have your inner circle privy to all your communication with outer layers of friends, you must construct “groups.” But you can close these groups off to the rest of your information only so far.  Let’s say you wish to have contact with a group without sharing your “core” information.  You can create a group, and then go back and set all of your privacy settings so that this group is excluded from any sharing. . . .

What you will discover is that the sharing settings on the FB privacy page do not address all of the categories of information that are shared.  Certain categories of information that you provide are rigidly globalized and shared with all of your friends, regardless of  your customized exclusions.

Specifically, any of your friends that you place in such a sequestered group will still be able to view any of the following information you share with your closest friends: work and education history, inspirational people, sports, books, movie, and television interests, hometown, and current residence (!)

So you see that FB’s “one world” of connectivity is just that.  It is possible to have circles within circles of contacts, but it is not possible to have two groups of friends that do not overlap, and the interconnectivity is quite robust.