How to Manage your Facebook Privacy Settings

What started off as a social network for Harvard students, Facebook has become the world’s most popular social network with over 1.8 billion users. What would you be comfortable sharing about yourself with 1.8 billion people across the world? For most people, I assume the answer would very little. If your Facebook profile is public, you are essentially allowing over 1.8 billion people to access the information you’re sharing.

Illustration of a woman walking into a phone as a doorway. Image source: Life Lock

It is important to go through your privacy settings, read through all the options and choose wisely.

When you first click the privacy tab under settings, you are asked 3 of the most important questions, “Who can see my stuff?”, “Who can contact me?” and “Who can look me up?”.

Screenshot of Facebook privacy settings. Image source: Kausar Panchbhaya

Who can see my stuff?

  • Who can see your future posts?: You have the options between Public — anyone on or off Facebook, Friends — your friends on Facebook, Friends except…- don’t show to some friends, Specific friends — only show to some friends, Only me and Custom. Ask yourself, who do you want being able to see everything you post?
  • Who can see your friends list?: You have similar options to the above question, as well as location and past education based options as well. Keep in mind, you are very likely visible on many of your Friend’s, friends lists. When choosing the setting for this question, it is important to note that you are also choosing how easy it is for people to find your friends through you.

Who can contact me?

  • Who can send you friend requests?: The options are Everyone or Friends of Friends. Regardless of the setting you choose for this question, it is always important to make sure you know the person before accepting a friend request. Accepting a random friend request is the online equivalent of letting a stranger into your house.
Gif of magnifying glass and eye. Image source: Giphy

Who can look me up?

  • Who can look you up using the email address you provided?: You can choose between Everyone, Friends of Friends or Friends.
  • Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?: This question has the same options as above. Enabling anyone to search you would mean, anyone who has your phone number has access to your online profile as well.
  • Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?: This one is a very important setting. You have the option between yes and no. Being visible on search engines might make it easier for old friends or even new friends to find you, but it also makes it easier for your current or future employers to find you.

There are more privacy related settings under the tab, Timeline and Tagging and Blocking.

  • Who can add things to my timeline?
  • Who can see things on my timeline?
  • How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions?

Under these subheadings are important settings that help you limit how visible what other people post about is. Although you look great in the pictures from that Friday night, you might not want your boss seeing the pictures your BFF posted on her profile. In these settings you have the ability to review tags people add to their posts before the tag appears on Facebook.

GIF of Charlie Brown dancing with a girl. Image source: Giphy

You also have the ability to block users, messages and pages. Blocking can allow you to restrict your information from someone in specific.

It is important to review your privacy settings on Facebook as well as the settings on your other social media accounts. It allows you to take control of your information and choose (to some extent) who is capable of seeing it.

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