Do you use Facebook personally and professionally?

Of course you have been careful with your privacy controls and only allow your real-life friends to “friend” you on Facebook and everyone else you direct to your professional Facebook Page.

If so, do you believe you are safe from embarrassing exposures of your information?

Think again — there are a couple of Facebook privacy sand traps that can sink you without your knowledge.

The October 13th Wall Street Journal front-page article “When the Most Personal Secrets Get Outed on Facebook” by Geoffrey A. Fowler describes two college teens who were sunk.

Both two teens wanted to keep personal information from being seen by their fathers and had strict Facebook privacy controls on their accounts. But they both joined a chorus at college that had a Facebook group.

When the creator of the group made them members of the group, the announcement of their joining the group went out to their Facebook friends. And that is when all hell broke loose!

At the moment Facebook allows a group creator to add you to a Facebook group without your approval. Then you later have the option of removing your membership.

Obviously it would be much better if your approval were sought in the first place. But even if it were, you could get caught unawares. Here’s why:

The Journal article explains about the three options for groups on Facebook:

Facebook’s online help center explains that open groups, as well as closed groups, are visible to the public and will publish notification to users’ friends… “secret” (membership and discussions hidden to nonmembers), “closed” (anybody can see the group and its members, but only members see posts), and “open” (membership and content both public).

Thus even if you were given the opportunity to approve being added to a group, if the group is a “closed” or “open” group your membership would not be kept private regardless of your own personal account privacy controls.

For now all you can do is pay close attention to any group you decide on your own you want to join.

And the second sand trap:

People can put photos of you on their Facebook account and these photos will be public. Plus, according to the Journal article, you cannot delete a photo of yourself posted by someone else.

While you can be vigilant about not agreeing to be in any photo that you think could compromise you if made public, sometimes a photo can be taken of you without your knowledge (such as an informal shot at a wedding or football game).

Bottom line?

Even if you are very, very careful with the privacy settings of your own Facebook personal account, you are still at risk from the activities of others.

Welcome to our brave new world!