Six degrees of separation and your privacy settings

Related to my post yesterday about Facebook’s privacy settings: danah boyd posted in more detail about the implications of Facebooks privacy (“Facebook and ‘radical transparency’“). These two paragraphs convey the problem I often see in which people haven’t thought through the implications of the “network” part of social networks:

A while back, I was talking with a teenage girl about her privacy
settings and noticed that she had made lots of content available to
friends-of-friends. I asked her if she made her content available to
her mother. She responded with, “of course not!” I had noticed that
she had listed her aunt as a friend of hers and so I surfed with her to
her aunt’s page and pointed out that her mother was a friend of her
aunt, thus a friend-of-a-friend. She was horrified. It had never
dawned on her that her mother might be included in that grouping.

Over and over again, I find that people’s mental model of who can see
what doesn’t match up with reality. People think “everyone” includes
everyone who searches for them on Facebook. They never imagine that
“everyone” includes every third party sucking up data for goddess only
knows what purpose. They think that if they lock down everything in the
settings that they see, that they’re completely locked down. They
don’t get that their friends lists, interests, likes, primary photo,
affiliations, and other content is publicly accessible.

danah’s full post is well worth your time.