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Data Doctors: Can I remove the Share option in Facebook

Wednesday - 1/22/2014, 7:00am  ET

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Sherwin asks: "How do I turn off the Facebook Share button on my posts and photos so that no one can share my status or any post, especially photos."

Facebook has built the largest social network in the world with over 1.1 billion active users per month and one of the key drivers of this growth is the ease in which things can be shared.

Sharing content is a fundamental precept of all social networks so asking how to turn it off kind of goes against the core of the network that you chose to join.

This fundamental misunderstanding of what social networking is, has led to many embarrassing situations over the years by politicians, celebrities and average users.

You must remember that as a user of Facebook you are not the customer; you are the product!

Now that Facebook is a publicly traded company they're even more focused on generating revenue from our activities allowing advertisers to target ads at us based on what we like, share and comment on.

This is not to say that you have no control over who sees what you post; but if you post anything on Facebook and others can see it, it can be ‘Shared'.

There is one option that would keep anyone from sharing your post, because no one except you will be able to see it. If you change the audience setting, which is just left of the Post button to ‘Only Me', then no one can share (or see) what you posted.

If you choose the Friends option, then anyone that you have accepted as a friend (and anyone tagged in the photo) can both see and share your post. If your friend shares something that you have marked as ‘Friends' then only people that are your friends can see it as a shared item.

There are a couple of exceptions to the Friends designation including your profile picture, your cover image and when you post directly on a friend's Timeline.

Both your current profile picture and cover photo (and any comments from anyone) are automatically designated as public as that's how Facebook allow others to determine if you're their long lost friend.

In fact, your previously posted Cover Photos and Profile Pictures remain viewable by the public unless you change the setting or delete them (Cover photos can't currently be changed, only deleted if you don't want the world to be able to see them).

When you post directly to a friend's Timeline, your audience setting no longer matters; the control reverts to whatever your friend has set as their default audience. The best way to control this is to tag your friends instead of posting on their Timelines.

If you want to make sure previous posts are only viewable by your friends, you can globally change this by going into your Privacy settings and clicking on the ‘Limit Past Posts' option, which will change all previous posts that might have been public or friends of friends to friends only.

Even if Facebook decided to give you an easy way to ‘turn off' the Share option, anyone can take a screenshot or download the image and re-post it without your control or knowledge.

You must understand that once you post anything on the Internet, you should assume that you can no longer control who sees it, shares it or downloads it, so act accordingly.

Is all this minutiae confusing? You bet! Is it by design? Probably. Remember, this is an entirely voluntary decision you make to participate and post things, so poster beware!

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