‘Take Care With What You Share’ – How to Lock Down Your Facebook Profile

Article supplied by  ZoneAlarm
Facebook makes sharing really easy. It doesn’t matter whether you want to show off video or photos, tell your friends about a site you like, or just start a conversation. Type in a few words and a few clicks later, that gem is out there for your friends to see.

If you haven’t set up your privacy settings properly, you risk sharing personal information with more people than you planned to. You may think you are sharing a funny picture with your friends, but it’s quite possible that your co-workers and random strangers will be able to see it too.

Facebook keeps changing its privacy settings — and in the company’s defense, some of the controls have been made easier — but it can still get a little confusing. You should also check every so often to make sure new settings haven’t been introduced.

Evaluating your online privacy needn’t be a laborious task. Here, we offer a quick guide on how to lock down your Facebook profile so you are sharing only with people you want to share with.

Privacy Settings—The Basics
The menu to access your privacy settings is located under the gear icon, which is located to the right of “Home” on the top right corner of the screen. Within Privacy Settings, you can see six different questions, of which “Who can see your future posts?” is probably the most important. Click on the Edit button to set the default privacy setting to Public, Friends, Only Me, or Custom. Public really means the entire world. Many people stick with just “Friends,” but if you frequently segment which of your Facebook friends can see your posts, “Custom” may be the better option.

You can always tweak the settings on a per-post basis by clicking on the gear icon next to the “Post” button when entering a status.

The default settings are only for posts and photos going forward, not older posts. Click on “Limit Past Posts” under “Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or Public?” to change the settings for previous posts, so that only friends will be able to see them.

“Who can look me up?” controls how other people can find and connect with you on the site. If you want to control which users are able to send friend requests / messages to you, then it’s a good idea to select the ‘Friends’ or ‘friends of friends’ setting. You can also decide whether your timeline can be indexed by search engines.

Timelines & Tags
The next step is to look at the settings for timelines and tagging, which is located on the left side of the screen. You can control who can post on your timeline, what people can see, and what happens when someone tags you. While you cannot stop friends from tagging you, you can turn on the option to review posts you are tagged in before they appear on your timeline.

Facebook can also suggest tags using facial recognition. You can set it so that “No One” can see tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded to the site.

Apps & Ads
We are halfway through. The next few controls apply to Facebook apps. Blocking in the left hand column of the page refers to users and apps that are banned from contacting you. You can also create a restricted list of friends who aren’t allowed to see anything on the site unless it is flagged as “Public.”

Under the Apps section, you are able to restrict what information apps can collect about you. Click on the ‘Edit’ button next to each app so that you can review what kind of information it is collecting. Even more importantly, take a look at “Apps others use” and uncheck any pieces of data you don’t want your friends’ apps from accessing from your timelines. It may be worth it to just uncheck all the boxes.

Instant personalisation, also under Apps, lets participating websites personalise your visit based on information stored in your Facebook profile. It’s probably best to just turn it off.

Under Ads (on the left side of the screen), Facebook has a “third party sites” option which essentially grants third-party applications and ad networks the right to use your name and picture in ads. The feature doesn’t currently exist, but if you don’t set this to “No one,” you will find yourself in ads if-and-when this option goes live. The “social ads” setting takes your activity, such as liking a company, and embeds it inside an ad. If you don’t want your actions being part of an ad, set this to “No one,” too.

Following these simple steps should ensure that your Facebook profile is no longer an ‘open book’. However, for extra peace of mind it’s often worth using an additional security tool such as ZoneAlarm’s free Facebook Privacy Scan.

Share your life only with people you want to share with, and keep those strangers away!