How to Keep Secrets—Even on Facebook

No human relationship can withstand complete transparency. Facebook gives you plenty of opportunities to commit social faux pas in the name of "connecting," but there's no feature to help you keep necessary secrets. You have to get tricky about it.

The problem here isn't you, reader. Hopefully you're smart enough not to post things that will get you fired. It's your idiot friends, who are liable to tag you in drunken photos, or write on your wall about the time you made a bong out of a cheese steak sandwich so that your 15-year-old son can read it.

Internet scholar danah boyd recently explained the "risk reduction strategies," teens use to keep their Facebook profiles free of drama caused by friends. But these can be applied to adults just as well. Let's take a look:

The "Super-Logoff"


The super-logoff is the practice of deactivating your Facebook account entirely each time you log out, then reactivating it when you log in. Your profile disappears when you deactivate, but Facebook keeps it on their servers for a few days before deleting it indefinitely since they know most people will come crawling back for a hit of social crack. With the super-logoff you can assume maximum control over you profile, since people will only be able to see and post on your wall when you're logged in. (And, presumably, in front of your computer.)

This would be a good strategy for when you go to Burning Man and don't want to come back to find yourself tagged in dozens of Facebook pics naked but for splashes of glow-in-the-dark body paint. (And it only takes a couple more clicks than logging off.)

"White-walling"


White-walling is the Facebook equivalent of inbox-zeroing: You delete every single wall post, status update and the like soon after it's been posted, leaving them up just long enough for friends to see what happened. One girl boyd spoke to explained the benefits off white-walling:

She talked about how people were nosy and it was too easy to get into trouble for the things you wrote a while back that you couldn't even remember posting let alone remember what it was all about. It was better to keep everything clean and in the moment. If it's relevant now, it belongs on Facebook, but the old stuff is no longer relevant so it doesn't belong on Facebook.

The Shell Game


OK, we just made this one up. But what if, for every true thing you posted on your wall, you posted two false things? Haters wouldn't know what's up and what's down!

Maybe all these techniques seems a bit OCD. You know what else seems a bit OCD? Constantly typing the trivial details of your life into a website.

[Via All Things D, image via Shutterstock]