Tweaking your Privacy Settings on Facebook

We’ve all read stories of people who didn’t get a job because their future employer dug up some embarrassing photos on their Facebook profile. Or someone who got in trouble at work or with their parents, partner, or friends because of something they said or a photo that someone else posted of them and tagged them in. Most of us will spend close to 7 hours a month on Facebook (check out this infographic). Yet the majority of us won’t spend 5 minutes tweaking our privacy settings on Facebook to ensure that they are up-to-date and avoid these types of disasters. That explains why the recent announcement that Facebook was making changes to their privacy settings (rendering all profiles searchable by name) was met with a chorus of confusion and fear. No one likes dealing with privacy settings: they are buried under layers of menus and they are written in a daunting language.

Our online privacy is our responsibility
That said, our online privacy is our responsibility. Facebook has given us the tools to share as much or as little about ourselves as we like. And it is important for us to take a few minutes every once in a while to review these settings to ensure that they are up-to-date with the latest changes that Facebook has made. Here is my 3-step guide to clarifying and maintaining privacy settings.

STEP 1: Review Your Privacy Settings

Facebook Privacy Settings

About a year ago, Facebook simplified its privacy settings so in effect you have two ways of viewing your privacy settings: the simplified view of key settings and the complete listing of all settings. The illustration above shows how to access these two privacy options. The simplified menu is pretty straight-forward. It consists of three sections which do exactly what their title says. Take a moment now to go through these three sections on your profile and make any changes. In addition to this, if you want to restrict access to all your past posts, you can do so by going to See More Settings and changing the setting in the green box (as shown below). This is recommended to avoid the ghosts of old posts coming back to haunt you.

Facebook Privacy Settings -

(click to enlarge)

If you are curious or want to dig deeper, go through all the privacy options (in blue box shown above). I recommend doing this if you’ve never done it before as it will give you peace of mind and it won’t take long (promise!). If you need help navigating these menus, here is an excellent guide which is continuously updated with the latest changes and will guide through each setting in detail.

STEP 2: Friendly Fire

Keep your friends close and your Facebook friends closer
In addition to ensuring that your privacy settings are tweaked, I would advise you to periodically review your friends lists. We’ve all heard that silly saying about keeping your friends close and your Facebook friends closer. It may be worth your while to go through your list of friends and see if there any people there that shouldn’t be privy to every detail of your life. Again Facebook has given us several tools to deal with these “friends”. You can unfriend, block, or move them to a restricted list. If you need some hand-holding with this, please consult this guide.

STEP 3: Rinse and Repeat

You’re all set – almost! Take a minute now to put a recurring calendar reminder once every 3-4 months to remind yourself to go through this checklist quickly to make sure your privacy settings are always up-to-date. And tell your friends to check their privacy settings too. After all, don’t (Facebook) friends look out for each other?!

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2 comments on “Tweaking your Privacy Settings on Facebook
  1. Hiba says:

    Great post – I have to admit I haven’t spent much time with privacy settings, but I will definitely do it now! thanks 🙂

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