How to Configure Facebook Privacy Settings

May 2, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Following our opening discussion on the dangers of Facebook to your privacy, it is time to learn how to shore things up. If you don’t want to withdraw from the social networking experience completely but have concerns about what information about you is being shared and to what purpose, there are plenty of options that you can take advantage of.

Whether you’re concerned about photos, apps, games, third party hacking or even adverts (and after reading our previous eye-opening article, it should be all of the above) then it is time to learn just how to take control of Facebook and return to using it to chat with friends and family rather than opening yourself to identify theft.

How to configure Facebook privacy settings

Accessing Facebook Privacy Settings

Facebook games, applications, photos and friends all offer potential access to your extremely valuable personal information, and you can manage access from all of these things via the Facebook Privacy settings.

Four pre-defined settings are offered, with a fifth “custom” setting that can be defined by your own preferences (although still within Facebook’s pre-determined parameters). The settings determine how your status updates, photos, biography, birthday, beliefs, and more are shared on Facebook.

The four pre-defined Facebook privacy settings are:

Everyone – you basically have no privacy from people, games or applications. Not recommended.

Friends of friends – people who know people you know can see your profile and data.

Friends only – personal information is shared only with people you have in your friends list.

Recommended – your personal information, family details and relationships are shared across a spread of the other settings.

Using Custom Settings to Protect Your Privacy

In order to effectively manage your privacy on Facebook (if you have opted not to cancel your account) you will need to choose the fifth Custom option, which can be done by selecting any of the above and then clicking the Customise settings link.

This will allow you to manage various elements of your personal data that are stored on Facebook. Split into Things I share, Things others share and Contact information, these settings allow you to specify who sees what.

For instance I’m a little sensitive about my age, and prefer it that only people who should be sending me birthday wishes can see notifications about the day. By selecting the drop-down menu next to Things I share > Birthday I can change the default setting of Everyone to Custom and select Edit to make it visible to a small selection of people.  Conversely, if I want everyone to see my birthday except one or two people I can use the same menu option to hide it.

Similar options are available across the board, but beware – they do not protect you completely. People on Facebook have been fooled by fake friends and fake apps that send out messages for you to click on unsafe web pages that then deliver hacks to your browser and open it up to remote access. This is a considerable risk, and one that Facebook cannot control, however many changes to the privacy settings they make.

If you really want to stay safe online, don’t use Facebook.

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