For many us, when setting up a Facebook account, we give away far too much information about ourselves. Information like an email address or phone number, date of birth, where we work and went to school, married or single, going on holiday, moving house etc.
We give Facebook this information expecting Facebook to look after it. To respect our privacy and not show, what are essentially private details, to just anyone who happens to be browsing by. Or maybe searching deliberately for this type of info.
It would be good if Facebook would give us a little nudge, a heads up if you like, when we’re about to share something that maybe we shouldn’t, “Are you sure you want to go public with your phone number?” That kind of thing. But it doesn’t. Facebook’s default privacy settings are a little more open, a little more relaxed than perhaps you’d expect.
ID theft and phishing scams are on the rise and a lot of the details these people need can be easily found by simply browsing over our Facebook profile.
In this guide, we’ll go through the main Facebook privacy settings that you really do need to consider changing.
- How To Change Your Privacy Settings On Facebook.
- Control Who Can See What You Share On Facebook.
- How To Keep Your Facebook Account Secure.
- How People Can Find You On Facebook.
- Your Data Settings On Facebook.
- Your Ad Preferences On Facebook.
- There Are A Few More Privacy Settings You Should Consider On Facebook.
How To Change Your Privacy Settings On Facebook.
Checking and changing your privacy settings for your Facebook account isn’t difficult, but it is a little convoluted. There’s a bit more digging around than I think there needs to be. But it’s well worth the effort.
The first issue is actually getting to your privacy settings. There are several ways, and some times you’ll find one but not the other.
So to get started, you’re looking in the top right corner of the screen. You might be able to see a drop-down arrow, but you might not.
If you can see the arrow, click that, if you can’t see an arrow, click your profile picture.
Facebook General Account Settings.
Now you’re into the Facebook General Account Settings. This is the page that you’ll work from.
The first job to tackle is going to be stopping other people from seeing your date of birth and email address.
Click PRIVACY in the left-hand panel.
On the Facebook Privacy and Tools page, click “Check a few important settings”.
Control Who Can See What You Share On Facebook.
And now click the “Who can see what you share” box.
The first item is your email address. By default Facebook allows your “Friends” to see your email address.
Which on the face of it sounds OK, friends are friends right?
Well maybe not so on Facebook. Most of us have “friends” on Facebook that we’ve never actually met. They are people we simply don’t know.
Click the button in the Email Address section.
You’re never going to stop spam email and phishing attempts dropping into your Inbox, but you don’t have to make it too easy for them.
The “Select an audience” window opens.
Select “Only Me”.
Don’t give out your private email address unnecessarily.
You’ll see this “select an audience” window a few times as we work our way through Facebook’s privacy settings.
Facebook is displaying your date of birth to “Friends of friends”.
So that’s people you don’t even know that you don’t know.. People you’ve never heard of.
Change this setting by clicking the relevant buttons and selecting “Only Me” again.
It adds up
If you’ve got, say, 10 friends on Facebook, and each of those have 10 friends beside you, then that’s 100 people that you never heard of that have access to your name and date of birth.
You’ve never met these people, you don’t know them, and they could literally be anywhere in the world. Not even in your own country.
For anyone trying to steal your identity, name and D.O.B is the first bit of info they’ll need.
Scroll down the Profile Information page a little and take a look at the Friends and Following section.
By default, Facebook sets both to Public.
I would change that. Change both settings to friends.
When you’re done, click the NEXT button.
The next page is Posts and Stories.
Facebook’s default setting should be fine, but just check and adjust as necessary.
Both Posts and Stories should be set to Friends.
For the Limit Past Posts section, click the LIMIT button.
Generally speaking, it’s best to keep your posts only viewable by your friends.
However in the past, you may have published posts that are viewable to the general public.
What the Limit Past Posts button does, is to change the setting of all your previous posts to only friends.
When you click the LIMIT button, Facebook will warn you that you’re about to change the settings for all your previous posts.
Click the LIMIT button to confirm.
The next page will be the Blocking setting.
Here you can add people who you want to block from viewing your Facebook profile.
Hopefully, you’ll never really need to use this.
But in case you do, here’s how to go about blocking someone.
Click “Add to blocked list”.
If you’re not going to block anyone right now, click the NEXT button.
Type the name of whoever you want to block from seeing your Facebook page.
Find the person you want to block by scrolling down the list of people. When you find them, click the BLOCK button beside their name.
It can be quite difficult to find the right person because many of us have the same or similar names, but the person you’re looking for should be there somewhere.
After you’ve clicked the NEXT button, or after you’ve finished blocking people from your Facebook profile, you’ve finished this section.
Click the REVIEW ANOTHER TOPIC button.
How To Keep Your Facebook Account Secure.
Keeping your Facebook secure from hackers and ID thieves is vital.
But the subject is just too long to cover in this guide.
Instead, there’s a complete guide here How To Set Up Facebook Account Recovery Options
How People Can Find You On Facebook.
The next section of Facebook’s privacy settings deals with how other people can find you on Facebook. There are just a couple of settings you should consider changing in here.
Click the box “How people can find you on Facebook“. Then click the CONTINUE button.
The first option is about who can send you a Friend Request.
The Facebook default is set to Everyone. I think that’s pretty much right, but as the “Tip” suggests, if you’re getting overwhelmed with requests, you can limit it to just Friends of Friends.
Click the NEXT button.
Have you ever wondered how they get your phone number and email address?
And then thought it must be some sort of special hacking ability or skills.
Change these settings to ONLY ME by clicking the buttons.
Click NEXT when ready.
Do you want people to be able to find you by searching Google?
For most people I’d say no. Turn this option off by clicking the switch.
Click NEXT when ready.
You’ll get the “You’re all set” page again. Click “Review another topic“.
Your Data Settings On Facebook.
This next section of your Facebook privacy settings checkup, deals with which apps and websites you have connected to your Facebook profile.
If you’re not sure what this is, let me explain a little more. A lot of websites and apps that require you to create an account, will let you log in using your Facebook account/profile.
It’s easy to do and very fast. But there is a downside.
As an example, this is the kind of thing we’re looking at.
You’re on the Foursquare website and can create an account or simply log in using your Facebook account.
Clicking the Facebook button is really tempting and way too easy.
Foursquare will then receive your name, profile picture and email address from Facebook.
Name and email address, well yes, that’s understandable, pretty much standard practice for an account.
But your picture? Why do they need your picture to find you somewhere to eat or visit?
At least with Foursquare, they are telling you what info they’re going to take from your Facebook profile.
Many websites and apps that you use your Facebook account to sign in with either don’t make it clear what information they’re going to access or bury the details deep inside the small print.
To check whether you’ve connected any websites or apps to your Facebook profile, click “Your data settings on Facebook” and then the CONTINUE button.
You’ll see a list of websites and apps that you’ve connected to using your Facebook account.
It’s up to you to decide if you want to leave any of them or remove them.
Definitely remove any that you no longer use or need because, even though you’re not actually using them, they will continue to gather data about you while they remain connected to your Facebook profile.
If you haven’t connected anything to your Facebook account, good for you.
Whilst having websites and apps connected to Facebook has its uses, the price is a huge compromise of your personal privacy.
Click the NEXT button when done.
The facial recognition option. On or off.
Bit of a no brainer for me. Big brother is watching.
Click the NEXT button when you’re done and then the REVIEW ANOTHER TOPIC button.
Your Ad Preferences On Facebook.
Your ad preferences control how Facebook and advertisers can use your profile information to place adverts on your timeline.
Amongst other things, they’re looking at your relationship status, who you work for, and your educational qualifications.
It all sounds like snooping to me. Anyway, click the “Your ad preferences on Facebook” box, click CONTINUE and then NEXT.
Facebook’s default setting is to allow advertisers to access and view this information drawn from your profile.
It’s entirely up to you what you leave turned on or turn off in this section.
So turn it all off.
Take a chance on getting adverts that are boring.
Click NEXT when you’re ready.
The social interactions setting comes up.
Let me explain what it is, if you see an advert, or a website running an advert, and click the LIKE button. Then that advert could be displayed on your friends timelines.
Along with the words ” Dave liked this”, or something similar.
By default its set to your friends, but you can change it to ONLY ME if you want.
The idea behind this is that it’ll look like you are personally recommending an advert. Giving the product your seal of approval.
Personally, I don’t really care about that one. Click “Review another topic” when ready.
There Are A Few More Privacy Settings You Should Consider On Facebook.
So now we’ve worked our way through each of Facebook’s privacy checkup settings. And you could be forgiven for thinking that you were done.
But there are a few more privacy settings that you should at least look at.
On the Privacy Checkup page, we’ve now covered each section (except the account security one).
At the very bottom of the page, in small print (it’s as if they didn’t want you to see it) click SETTINGS.
That brings you back to Facebook’s General Account Settings page. Which is where you started.
In the left-hand panel, click PRIVACY again.
On the Privacy Settings and Tools page, click MANAGE YOUR PROFILE.
This is your Facebook profile page. Make sure you’re on the ABOUT tab (1).
Facebook makes public some information that you may or may not want to be shown to the whole world. Such as where you went to school, where you live, whether you’re in a relationship etc.
But you can change most of these settings.
Click the small icon beside the 3 horizontal dots.
And that will open the “Select an audience” window.
So as an example, if you aren’t happy with Facebook broadcasting your location, you could choose to make it “ONLY ME”.
Scroll down the page and you’ll see other sections that you might want to change the privacy settings for.
As an example, maybe you don’t want your musical tastes being broadcast.
Click the 3 horizontal dots to the right of the Music section.
On the menu that opens, click EDIT PRIVACY.
On the Edit Privacy pop up window, click the button and then select your preference from the menu.
Facebook Privacy Settings – Summary.
The whole point of Facebook is to connect you to people you know, people you used to know and people and groups that you may like to know. It does that by looking through your profile and trying to find other users with things in common with you.
Same school, same age, same sporting interests etc. And if everyone played by the rules there wouldn’t be a problem. But they don’t. And we know they don’t. Handing over personal/private data about yourself is dangerous.
And while the chances of ID theft happening to you are still incredibly low, it does happen, it happens to someone. It’s rather like “winning” the lottery, if you’re in it then it could be you.