Tag Archives | privacy

Autism and Facebook – A how to on Friends Lists

I’ve talked to several parents that use Facebook to share pictures and personal information, many are quite frightened of what they put out there and more importantly, who is able to see it.

Facebook has become quite complicated, that’s what happens when you try to give everyone everything. However it does have security measures in place to help you protect your information.

Privacy Settings

There are a lot of articles out there on “Privacy Settings”, if you haven’t read any, I strongly suggest that you look them up. This is probably the most important aspect to protect your data as it will determine what people will see from outside of your circle of friends.

However, since there are so many articles out there, most are better than what I can do, I will skip that and move on to something that I know very well: Friends Lists.

Edit Friends

At the top right corner of the Facebook website is a menu called “Account” with a down arrow beside it. This indicates that if you click on it, it will drop down to reveal more options.

Click on that and you should see a menu that looks like this:

Click on the “Edit Friends” menu option to be taken to a page where you will now see a list of all of the friends you have. Also, on the left of that, you will see the lists available to separate your friends into.

Create a List

At the top, there is a Create a List button. Click on that and a new little box will pop up. This gives you the chance to name your list as well as pick people from your friends to put into that list.

I suggest creating lists such as Family, classmates, coworkers, Autism and FB Games.  You can have way more, or not even use what I suggested. The options are yours. I suggest these for specific reasons that I will show you later.

Edit Lists

When you have your lists created and you’re looking at the page with all of your friends on it, you will see little “Edit Lists” menu options next to each of their names. You may have to put your mouse over the person’s name for it to appear.

When you see it, mouse over that Edit Lists text. If that friend belongs to a list or several lists, they will appear in a little black box next to your mouse cursor.

When you click on it, a box opens showing you all of your lists with checkmarks next to the lists that this friend belongs to.

From here, you can put people into one or more lists very quickly.

Using Facebook

Providing you read up on your Privacy Settings and you now have all of your friends tucked away into your lists, you are now ready to use Facebook with some peace of mind.

Here’s how it works.

When you do just about anything, whether it is setting your status, sharing a link, adding photos or just about anything else really, you will be able to see a little “lock” icon next to the action you’re taking.

By default, it should be set to “Friends Only”, if you mouse over it, it will tell you. It should look like this:

Once again, you should notice the down arrow. This means that clicking on it will offer you more options. So click on it before you do anything else.

Choose your friends wisely

Once you click on that lock icon, you will be given a new little box where the real power lies.

This box is divided into two. The top portion has people that CAN see what you’re about to share and the bottom portion has people that CAN NOT see what you are about to share.

The first thing you should notice is the drop down which allows you to choose if friends of friends can see what you’re sharing, if just your friends can see it, if only you would ever see it or.. my personal favourite, “Specific People…”

Specific People is what I ALWAYS choose. There’s almost never a time that I wish to share one thing with everyone but obviously everyone is different.

Once you select Specific People from the list, a new little box will appear for you to type in. As you type into this box, magic happens. As you type the name of a person, it will give you boxes that you can click on with your mouse to choose those people. The thing is, it works with lists as well.

As you type “F… A… M… “… the Family list will appear. Click on it and a blue box with the word Family will appear indicating that the only “specific people” that will see what you’re sharing are the people in your “Family” list.

Once you’ve chosen the list(s) or friend(s) that can or can not see this, click on Save Setting and then proceed with sharing as you normally would.

There are some links and status messages that I wish to share with ONLY people that I know from the Autism community, so in those cases, I choose the Autism list. I play some games like CityVille… in those cases, when a game wants me to request things from people, or put something on my “wall”, I choose the “FB Games” list.

This way, none of my family or Autism people will never see CityVille requests. Likewise, family won’t be bogged down with Autism links that they likely won’t read.

Keep in mind, this exact same thing works with the “Hide This From” portion of the box. You can choose lists to exclude. So if you want everyone in your friends list to see something except your family… you can do that too.


Facebook is supposed to be about friends only, so sharing information shouldn’t be a problem… they’re all friends. But the simple truth is that even if you have nothing to hide, some people in your friends list simply don’t need to see what you’re sharing.

Sometimes though, you do want to hide some information from some of your “friends”. That’s just how life is sometimes.

Take the time to make your lists. Do it now before it becomes too big of a job. It’s easy to maintain because each time you add a new friend, you’re given the option to immediately put them into some lists.

Once you do this, all of those Autism links you share with Autism friends will never be seen by anyone that is not in your Autism list. All those family pictures will only be seen by family members. It’s as simple as that.

Final Word

Once you have all that done, and you’ve read those articles on Privacy Settings (you have read one, right?), you can now revisit your Privacy Settings and customize them.

Your lists will play a STRONG part in the over all privacy of your Facebook experience… not just what you share, but what people see in general.

For example, yes… if you enter your cell phone # into your details, it will be there for all to see. But not if you adjust your Privacy Settings. Go to customize, scroll down to the Contact section and click on the box next to Mobile Phone. Choose “Custom” and start picking the lists that can and can’t see your cell phone #.

It’s that easy, once you have the lists in place.

Your privacy is very important, your friends getting information thrown at them that does not interest them is also important to consider. For these reasons, you really should use Friends Lists on Facebook… and use them at all times!

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Blogging about our children, use their real names or a pseudonym for privacy?

First off, this is something that has actually be on my mind for a while but it wasn’t until a well thought out post on another blog generated a lot of discussion, including one attack, that I really felt compelled to speak up about this.

Read the blog post here: http://bigdaddyautism.com/?p=1207

PrivacyI am very honest and very sincere in everything I do, especially when it involves a topic as important as Autism. This blog not only has my real name, but it’s the title… it’s even the URL address!

The question is whether or not my son would approve of me using his real name later in life… will he be embarrassed by it? Will others use this as a way of teasing or mocking him?

Autism Advocacy

I write about Autism. This is a personal blog but it’s not my personal blog about our vacations, times we’re sick, going to visit family, etc… it’s not a diary. It’s a blog advocating Autism, or more specifically, mine and my son’s stories and experiences.

As such, I write so that others that read will know that they’re not alone… maybe they’ll even feel inspired, motivated, educated… maybe they will be able to relate to the things I say.

This means that I have a lot more readers that I don’t know than I do readers that I do know. These people will likely never meet me nor my son face to face. But those that do know me will know a lot more about myself and my son than they did previously. But this is a global topic, Autism is simply so much bigger than just me or my son.

Honesty and Trust

A great writer can capture your hearts and your trust by the words they say. Sadly, most of us are not great writers. We’re people, we’re parents… and we’re simply trying to be involved in the community by sharing what we can. Therefore, making you cry, making you trust us, making you believe the words we say are the honest to goodness truth can be quite a daunting task.

I believe that being upfront and honest with my name adds to a reader’s faith in me. That I have nothing to hide nor anything to be ashamed of.

I recently read a new spinoff Superman comic, Earth One. In it, Superman talks to his mother about the costume she made… and asks why there is no mask. Her reply to him is that, with his power, people will fear him. They need to be able to see his face, to see his innocence and honesty so that they can know they can trust him. A mask would only make people fear him more, make them question him, make them not trust him.

I do like to think of my son as a little Superman, but I realize that it’s not great power that he has. It’s a disorder. Even still, his message is a very powerful one and a mask would always get in the way of that message… it would always leave a little doubt.

Shame and Embarrassment

Let’s be honest, you could be the best words-smith on the planet and paint your child in the brightest most noble light and other kids would still try to use it against them in the schoolyard. Teasing and mocking comes from the strangest places sometimes.

If you would like to protect your child from that sort of thing then using a pseudonym is definitely a good way to go. However, don’t think that those children won’t find some other way to tease your children.

I think of it as the old pillow armour, you try to put up all this padding around your child to make sure that no one can ever do them any harm and not only do they still get teased, but they’re teasing them about your pillow armour!

Whether you use a pseudonym or not, if you write from the heart and you write with honesty and good intentions, there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

One of the most important lessons in life for every child is to drown out or ignore those that try to mock your integrity. Shielding your child away from having to face that will not help them learn that lesson. They’ll likely have to learn it eventually anyway, so what does it matter if it’s your blog that becomes the trigger?

I can tell you one thing, if one blog post of mine positively affects one other human being, I will never ever have any regrets for posting it, no matter what names or contents I had put into it. I would hope that, later in life, my son agrees with that. If I use his name and someone else’s life is better for it, he should be proud, not embarrassed.

Levels of Privacy

The average person fears the internet a great deal and has every right to do so. There is a lot to fear because really, the world is out there… the best of it and the worst of it. I still know many people who absolutely refuse to use their credit card online yet use it often over the phone. The internet has multiple levels of encryption and security, a phone has none. Hmm…

Unfortunately for all those average people, there are a lot of above average skilled people on the Internet that could find your real name with a little digging in the right places. So the only people you’re really protecting yourself from are the other average people.

If you do take all the precautions necessary and never once enter your name into a computer, then maybe… but only maybe. Because there are still ways to track your accounts back to you.

I don’t mean this as a way to scare you, quite the contrary. You’ve been online all this time and you’re fine, right? I’m still here and I’ve been online for far too long! The thing is, you can be very very very private or only a little bit private. You’ll likely never be completely private unless you really know what you’re doing.

Conversely, think of all those people who offer their children up for the brochure photos, billboards… commercials even! Those people are all still doing alright. I don’t think they’ve had to endure any more school yard bullying than anyone else.

I’m going to guess that you haven’t taken it to that extent but think about those people that have. Their children are REALLY out there. And they’re probably extremely proud to be making a difference. To be the kind, warm and trusting faces that you and I need to see in those commercials.

So Many Reasons

There are so many reasons for wanting or even needing privacy. I can’t even begin to go through them all but sometimes there are legal issues, or a disagreeing husband or wife, perhaps you’re writing about things that are much more personal than just specific Autism related stories… the list is endless.

Then again, perhaps you really are using a pseudonym simply because you don’t want to use anyone’s name without their informed consent, even your own child’s.

Everything I have written in this blog post is my own personal opinion and my own personal reason for making the decisions I’ve made. I understand completely why and how people make their own choices.

I would never, for a second, doubt that someone is very proud of their child even though they hide them behind a fake name. You don’t have to reveal an identity to reveal your pride. You also don’t have to tell us your name for us to believe you or to learn from you.

This is Who I Am

My wife is a very private person, even after joining a forum where all people see is a user name, she still never really opened up to anyone for almost a year and a half. Suffice to say, she was skeptical when I started this blog.

However, she very quickly saw the need to share who I really am and to share my son with the world. I guess I should say, my need.

When you read my blog posts, I don’t write like a doctor, I don’t write like a writer… I write like me. And to use another name is to write like someone else. To pretend to be someone I’m not.

This is who I am, a very proud father. My son is absolutely amazing and I know that so long as I believe that through and through, and so long as I write with honesty and sincerity, those who read it will think that my son is amazing as well.

I can’t even imagine writing something that would embarrass him or make him feel any shame because I can’t think of anything that would qualify. He’s an inspiration to me and hopefully, through him, I can be an inspiration to others.

My Son, Cameron.

Cameron is his name, it is the name I gave him and the name I will never be afraid to share with the world. I do not know what the future holds in store for him but I like to think that what I do now, with this blog or otherwise, that he can be proud of me.

I also hope for a future where, despite still having Autism, he continues to speak out and inspire people with me. That he has a ‘normal’ and fulfilling life but is able to continue raising awareness, continue getting involved with the Autism community.

It’s not a guarantee though. I would never force him into anything in his life. If he isn’t comfortable with that or has no such desires, that’s fine too. I will be no less proud of him, he will be no less of an inspiration to me.

I will, however, make sure that he knows that what I do, what I say, is bigger than just him. That I would do anything for him, that I do everything for him, but also that there are so many out there that need an encouraging word, a little advice.


I’m getting off topic here but the point is, you reading this, is very important to me. I owe you the truth. And the response that I’ve received from readers like you has been astounding.

I honestly believe that the wonderful feedback and support I’ve received through blog would not be anywhere near the same level if I couldn’t be completely upfront and honest with you.

That’s not to say that you or anyone else couldn’t use a fake name and get the same response. It’s just how it is for me. It’s how it always has been for me and always will be.

What’s truly important is that no matter what name you have, no matter what name you use, be honest and sincere. If you speak the truth and you keep the bigger picture in mind, there can be no shame in the future.

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