Facebook Privacy Settings

fb_privacysettingsThe web is full of blog posts berating Facebook and scare-mongering about what they do, or will do, with our personal information on Facebook. I’ve devised some basic tips for Facebook users, along with simple explanations of what each Privacy Setting is for.

For the purposes of this page, elements of the Facebook application will be displayed in title case, for clarity. For example I will refer to a Profile or Customise.

To Access Privacy Settings

  • From the Account menu (currently top right of the Facebook Profile page), select Privacy Settings.

Personal Information and Posts

The options contained on this page allow users to control who can see various parts of their profile. The parts of the Profile that can be protected include Bio; Birthday; Interested in and Looking For; Religious and Political Views; Photo Albums; Posts By Me; Allow Friends to Post on My Wall; Posts By Friends and Comments on Posts.

In descending levels of privacy, for each element in the list, users can select to allow Everyone; Friends of Friends; Only Friends or Customise. The Everyone option offers the least privacy whereas Customise offers the most.

Custom Privacy

There are four ways to set Custom privacy; users can elect to Make this [element] visible to: Friends of friends; Only friends; Specific people or Only me.

  • Everyone – displays this part of a Profile to Everyone
  • Friends of friends – displays this part of a Profile to Friends of Friends, allowing it to be viewed by an indeterminate amount of people
  • Only friends – displays this part of a Profile to Friends only
  • Specific people – displays this part of a Profile to individuals or Friends list
  • Only me – hide from everyone

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Below, there is a Hide this from option. In some cases, it may be easier for users to specify individuals or Friends lists who are not allowed to see this part of a Profile. Friends are not aware that their viewing is restricted in this way; they simply do not see this part of the screen when they navigate to each others’ Profiles.

Once settings are customised, users can click on Preview my profile to view how the Facebook profile appears to most users.fb_previewmyprofileAn additional option is available on this new page, to preview how the profile appears to a particular Friend. This will differ for each friend, the more Customise has been used. It is an incredibly useful feature, allowing users to be certain what information they are sharing.

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Tip! For those using Facebook for business and personal use, I recommend taking time to customise permissions. This keeps your personal stuff safe and your business stuff from unnecessarily annoying family and friends.

Contact Information

This page allows you to control who can view your contact information, including IM Screen Name; Mobile Phone; Other Phone; Current Address; Website; Add me as a friend; Send me a message; and Email Address. The Custom Privacy settings apply (as outlined above).

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Two options need a little explanation:

  • Add me as a friend – customise the option for others to add you as a friend, from Facebook search results or from your Profile
  • Send me a message – customise the option for others to send you a message, from Facebook search results or from your Profile

In both cases, the Custom Privacy settings apply.

Tip! For those using Facebook for business use, I recommend keeping this part of the Profile as open as possible. Make it simple for those attempting to get in contact. For those using Facebook for personal use predominantly, I recommend customising the Add me as a friend and Send me a message options, to limit random bombardment by strangers.

Friends, Tags and Connections

This page allows you to control who can see other parts of your profile, including Friends, Family, Relationships, Photos and Videos of Me; Current Location; Hometown; Education and Work: Activities; Interests and Things I Like.

The Custom Privacy settings apply (as outlined above).

Tip! Pages and lists of friends are still public however and may appear in other locations on Facebook via applications used by user and Friends.

Applications and Websites

This page allows you to control what information Applications and Websites share about you, including What You Share; What Your Friends Can Share About You; Blocked Applications; Ignore Application Invitations; Activity on Applications and Games Dashboards and a link to the Instant Personality Pilot Programme.

  • What You Share – click to view and edit the options
  • What Your Friends Can Share About You – click to view and edit the options

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  • Blocked Applications – block individual applications from accessing your information or contacting you
  • Ignore Application Invitations – ignore Application requests from specified Friends

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  • Activity on Applications and Games Dashboards – control who can view this. The Custom Privacy settings apply (as outlined above).
  • Instant Personality Pilot Programme – this is an opt-in or opt-out choice. However, even if you opt out, Friends may choose to opt in, therefore sharing your information if it appears on their Profile, unless your choose to Block Application, as above..

Tip! Customise each of the options listed above, to keep your information secure and limit the amount of time required to deal with unwanted requests individually. This feature means you will not even see some requests.

Search

This page allows you control whether or not your name appears in Facebook searches or search engines. For Facebook search results, the Custom Privacy settings apply (as outlined above).

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Tip! Customise the options above, to keep your information secure and limit the amount of time required to deal with unwanted requests individually. However, if you are using Facebook for business purposes, you may wish to leave both options switched on.

Block List

This page allows you to control a list of people that you have elected to block. Each person can be blocked by name or email address.

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This concludes the list of Privacy Settings. I hope you have found the blog post helpful. Any questions, add them to a comment below or get in touch.