Facebook privacy – 8 important tips

Posted on January 22, 2010

Before deciding on your Facebook privacy controls, ask yourself: “what are my reasons for being on Facebook?” Is it just for fun and to keep up with friends? Or is it to create more of an online presence? If you’re on it just for fun, you may want to have your information more private than if you’re trying to build on online presence.

Well, things are not quite simple when it comes to Facebook privacy controls.

Here are the key areas you should review and change.

1. General Settings.
To start, go to your home page and click on the “Settings” link, found at the top right corner. Choose “Privacy Settings” from the drop down menu.

2. Profile Privacy Settings.

Click on the “Profile Information Link. Click on the image below and make it a full screen to see the page.

Facebook Profile Privacy Settings

For each profile section, you can choose who can see that section. Your choices are:

*friends of friends

Since I’m actively looking for a job and I want my qualifications visible to as many people as possible, I chose to make my profile more public and viewable by everyone.

I also do not list my religion or my political views, just a personal choice. My friends already know where I stand, so I don’t need to advertise it online.

The Customize selection allows you to either specify exactly who can or can’t see an item. I personally find this too confusing and too time-consuming. My rule of thumb is if I’m don’t feel comfortable sharing something with everyone, than I don’t put it up on the Internet.

3. Photo Privacy Settings.

You may want to make your photos private, since you can’t control what pictures are posted of you by others. This is especially important for the “Photos and Videos of Me” section (in the Profile section). If you’re tagged in a photo, meaning your name is listed, this photo is viewable by anyone, unless you say otherwise here. I am beyond the age of wild parties so I feel comfortable having any photos somewhat public.

4. Contact Privacy Settings.

The next section is Contact Privacy. Once again you can specify who can see your contact information. Please click on the image below and enlarge to see your choices.

Facebook Contact Privacy

I would recommend NOT making your IM screen name, phones or address viewable by everyone. I have also chosen to make my email addresses private, viewable only to me. There are some security holes in Facebook and I don’t want spammers to get a hold of my email. If someone on Facebook wants to contact me, they can always send me a private message through Facebook.

My website is viewable to everyone since I’m trying to build my online presence. The other items, I allow friends or friends of friends to view, since I want to make it fairly easy for people to contact me.

5. Applications and Websites Privacy settings.

If a friend installs an application, but you don’t, the application can still access a lot of your personal information, unless you specify otherwise. The image below shows you what items you can allow. I’ve chosen to share NONE, since I don’t like the loss of control.

Click on the image below and enlarge it to see your choices for this privacy setting.

Facebook Application Privacy Share

6. Search Privacy settings.

On this screen, you can control how much, if any, of your profile etc. is accessible to search engines. Click on the image below and enlarge it to see the details.

Facebook Search Privacy

Since I want to be found online, I’ve made my information accessible to anyone. You may chose to be more selective.

7. Block List.

If someone is harassing you or being annoying, you can block them from contacting you. You specify their name.

8. Fan pages, status updates and Friend lists.

In December 2009, Facebook announced privacy changes. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, claims people want to share more and more information on the Internet and this is Facebook’s way of allowing that.

A summary of the changes:

–Fan pages are now viewable by everyone. There is no other option.

–Friends lists are viewable by everyone by default. To change this, go into your Profile. Click on the little grey pencil that’s right above your friends list. Uncheck the box that says “show my Friend List to everyone.” Note that your friend list will always be available to your other friends.

Facebook Friend Privacy

–Wall posts and status updates are now visible to everyone by default. Previously this information was only available to your friends and people within your networks. If you don’t like a wall post or status update, you can delete it.

An estimated 15-20 percent of Facebook’s 350 million users ever bother to change the default settings. No matter how you use Facebook, it is worthwhile to spend a few minutes reviewing your Facebook Privacy Settings.