Protect Your Facebook Privacy with These 3 Settings!

In December, Facebook implemented yet another round of controversial privacy updates and changes in an effort to compete more widely with the more open social networks like Twitter.

As part of this update, Facebook implemented a “transition tool” which appeared at the top of Facebook homepages this past month with its own selection of recommended settings. If you were one of the users who opted for the recommended settings, you may now be surprised to find that you have given Facebook the right to publicize your status updates, photos, and shared links.

There are definitely valid concerns behind privacy so should you want to change these settings back, read on to find out how.

1. Who Can See The Things You Share (Status Updates, Photo, Videos, etc.)

If you accepted the new recommended settings then you have given Facebook full rights to any information included in your status updates. Depending on your applied search settings, you may have also given Facebook the right to share that information with search engines, too.

To change this setting simply take the following steps:

1. From your Profile page, hover your mouse over the Settings menu in the top right hand corner and click “Privacy Settings” from the list that appears.
2. Select “Profile Information”
3. Scroll down to the setting “Posts by Me.” which includes status updates, links, notes, photos, and videos.
4. Choose your desired setting using the drop-down box on the right.

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2. Who Can Access Your Personal Info

After last month’s changes, “personal info,” now includes other information such as your birthday, your religious and political views, and your relationship status. Facebook set the new defaults for this other information to viewable by either “Everyone” (for family and relationships, aka relationship status) or to “Friends of Friends” (birthday, religious and political views). To change this setting back to “Only Friends” complete the following steps:

1. From your Profile page, hover your mouse over the Settings menu at the top right and click “Privacy Settings”.
2. Click “Profile Information” from the list of choices on the next page.
3. The third, fourth, and fifth item listed on this page are as follows: “birthday,” “religious and political views,” and “family and relationship.” Perhaps the most important is updating birthday to “Only Friends” as this information is often used in identity theft.
4. Depending on your own personal preferences, you may or may not feel comfortable sharing your relationship status and/or religious and political views with complete strangers. Keep in mind, while “Friends of Friends” sounds simple enough, it actually refers to everyone your friends have added as friends. This can still represent a large group of users you may not know.

3. What Google Can See – Keep Your Data Off the Search Engines

When you visit Facebook’s Search Settings page, a warning message pops up that reads:

There have been misleading rumors recently about Facebook indexing all your information on Google. This is not true. Facebook created public search listings in 2007 to enable people to search for your name and see a link to your Facebook profile. They will still only see a basic set of information.

The second setting listed on this Search Settings page refers to exactly what you’re allowing Google and the other search engines to index. If the box next to “Allow” is checked, you’re giving search engines the ability to access and index any information you’ve marked as visible by “Everyone.” As discussed above, there is definitely some information worth keeping to yourself. Keep your data out of search engines index by completing the following steps:

1. From your Profile page, hover your mouse over the Settings menu at the top right and click “Privacy Settings” from the list that appears.
2. Click “Search” from the list of choices on the next page.
3. Click “Close” on the pop-up message that appears.
4. On this page, uncheck the box labeled “Allow” next to the second setting “Public Search Results.” That keeps all your publicly shared information (items set to viewable by “Everyone”) out of the search engines. If you want to see what the end result looks like, click the “see preview” link in blue underneath this setting.

There are obviously other privacy settings to be aware of as well, in our opinion however, these are the most critical. That said, it is important to review all of your privacy settings to be sure you are creating the privacy you feel most comfortable with.