How to Configure Facebook Privacy Options

October 21, 2010, By Christian Cawley

Social networking by its very nature demands we surrender certain personal information. This means that what you once considered personal and private – a photo, your middle name, data of birth, etc. – can now be used by advertisers to target you and by former school and work colleagues to find you.

Facebook’s attitude to the personal privacy of its users has improved over recent months. It still isn’t perfect, but the settings and options they have provided are a definite step in the right direction.

If you haven’t yet taken a look at your Facebook privacy settings, now is the time to do so, and ensure you are happy with what personal data is visible.

Configuring Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Using Facebook’s privacy options, you can manage which information about you is displayed to which people. This is a useful option for preventing friends of friends (ex-wives, perhaps) from finding out details you would rather they didn’t know, and generally empowers you to take more control over your privacy rights.

To access these settings, log in to your Facebook account; in the top right corner of the page, in the Account drop-down menu, choose the Privacy Settings options.

The page is split into Basic directory information, Sharing on Facebook, Applications and websites and Block lists, and each of these can be configured to display what you want only to who you want.

Your first stop should be Basic directory information – here you can choose what types of Facebook users can see your personal information. For instance, you might opt out of being searched for on Facebook by only allowing Friends or Friends of Friends to see you in the results page; or you might not care, and select Everyone. Beyond this, information on location, friends, receipt of friend requests and more can be managed in a similar way.

Sharing, Privacy and Facebook Games

If you would also like to manage information you share, the Sharing on Facebook section has some presets – Everyone, Friends of Friends, Friends Only – although you would probably be best served by choosing Customise settings to configure this information in more detail. Details such as political views, birthday, etc can be set to be viewed by Everyone, Friends of Friends, Friends Only even down to selecting individual users.

With the Applications and websites option, you can manage how applications, games and websites access your data. The option Information accessible through your friends allows you to control what information is available to friends and family when they use various Facebook applications and games – control of this is vital, so you should pay it some attention in order to control some of the 18 information types.

Deleting Your Facebook Account

Despite the popularity of Facebook, some users have opted to discontinue their use of the service; they might prefer to do their socializing in person, or have recognised that Facebook is a massive drain on their time.

To delete a Facebook account, you should check your other regular online haunts and make sure you have no accounts linked to Facebook. Also keep an eye out for sites you access using Facebook Connect. Log out of these and if you want to continue using them, login with alternate credentials.

The next step is to visit this page: www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account. Read the notice and if you still wish to proceed, click on Submit; you will also be asked to enter your password and confirm with CAPTCHA text.

Facebook will then issue an email advising a 14 day delay in deleting your account; during this time, if you still wish to quit Facebook, do not login or use any service that requires Facebook access –two weeks later, you will be free!

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