Sometimes, staying abreast of privacy changes on Facebook can seem like a full-time job. There are plenty of features to keep an eye on, but here are a few simple ways to customize your Facebook privacy.
Know the ways your Facebook profile can be accessed
1. Know your Privacy Settings. This is the main area where you control who sees what. Access it by clicking on Account at the top right of your home page, then selecting Privacy Settings. By default, you share these things with everyone: status, photos and posts; bio and favorite quotations; as well as family and relationships. However, those would be good fields to change, by clicking the Customize settings tab at the bottom of the Sharing on Facebook category.
2. Make your contact info private. Once you click Customize settings in Privacy Settings, scroll down to change who can see your address, IM screen name, and e-mail.
3. Make lists. Facebook has the very helpful, but not widely known, option of organizing your friends according to lists. To do this, click on the Friends tab on the left side of the homepage or your profile. After you click the Edit Friends button at the top of the page, an option will come up to + Create a List With this button you can make as many lists, including as many people, as you want. It's probably best to keep it simple, with just a few lists for friends, family, co-workers, and the like.
4. Use lists to filter outgoing content. The advantage of lists is they let you filter who sees your posts. For instance, if you want to vent about your in-laws, it's probably not a good idea to share your complaint with every individual you know. When writing on your Wall, click the lock icon that appears next to the Share tab. All your lists will come up, letting you pick who can see the post. The same goes for photos, links and everything else you share.
Smart phones enable some FB features to be carried beyond your computer
5. Control acccess to your photos. Have you ever had someone tag a picture of you that you wish they hadn't? To avoid getting embarrassed by a compromising picture, go to Privacy Settings > Sharing on Facebook > Customize settings. Scroll down to Things others share, and then edit the settings for Photos and videos you're tagged in. In the window that pops up, select Custom to decide who can see your pictures based on what lists they are in. There's also an option to decide who you want to hide pictures from. As for your own photo albums, you have to set the visibility for each one individually. This is another area where lists can be very helpful.
6. Search engine visibility. Decide whether to make your Facebook profile searchable on the Web. Go to Privacy Settings and open Apps and Websites at the bottom left of the page. There you can disable a feature that lets people find a preview of your profile through search engines.
7. Choose who can check you in to places. Facebook Places a mobile element of the social media platform that lets smart phone apps automatically make Facebook posts whenever users visit certain restaurants or other spots. Users can also check their friends in. To control this option, just go to Privacy Settings > Customize Settings > Friends can check me in to Places.
8. Protect your friends' privacy. Some websites collect info not only about people who visit them, but also their friends. To determine what can be revealed that way, go to Privacy Settings > Apps, Games and Websites > Info accessible through your friends.
9. Check back frequently. Keep checking Facebook's Privacy Settings. They change on a regular basis, and familiarizing yourself with them has the upshot of teaching you about features you might otherwise not get to know about.
10. You're the best privacy filter. The bottom-line to privacy on Facebook or on the Internet in general remains that you should avoid putting information online that you don't want becoming public.
Author: Shant Shahrigian
Editor: Stuart Tiffen