It seems there isn’t a day that goes by without Facebook and privacy being in the news. Most recently, there’s the small matter of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, which is causing users to leave Facebook in droves. But there is an alternative. Our guide to Facebook’s privacy settings explains all you need to know to keep using the popular social network safely.
Facebook Privacy Settings: The basics explained
You can find a list of apps that have access to your Facebook data, such as your name, pictures, birthday and friends list, on the App Settings page. There’s a good chance the list will be significantly longer than expected.
Clicking each entry in the list shows you the types of data you’ve given them permission to access. By unchecking each box, you can limit how many of your personal details they can get their hands on. You can also unlink the apps from your Facebook account on this page, by clicking the ‘X’ that appears next to them.
You can also switch off Facebook’s integration with apps completely, meaning you won’t be able to log into apps, games and other websites using your Facebook account. To do this, go to Settings, Apps and Websites and Plugins, then select Edit and Disable Platform.
Using your Facebook account to login to another app bridges your digital islands, allowing the two companies to collect more data and build an in depth profile about you and your activity. Set up a new login and password for the apps you’re using. to help you to avoid data being shared between different services.
1. I want to get an overview of my privacy settings
Facebook’s privacy settings are spread over a number of portions of the site. However, you can do a quick health check by tapping the padlock to the right of the Home screen and selecting Run Privacy Check Up. This will allow you see privacy settings at a glance over three key areas of Facebook
1) Posts – As explained below, this will explain how to control your privacy settings for every post.
2) Apps – Who sees your activity within third-party apps
3) Profile – Here you can limit what personal information (work, age, contact details) is visible to who.
2. I want to control who sees my posts
This is perhaps the key privacy concern of Facebook users who’re concerned. No-one wants their boss spying on their weekend activities, so it’s important to be clear about when you post. Whenever you upload a photo, fill in a status, or check in at a location there’s the opportunity to customise who you wish to share with. You can also adjust this by clicking the padlock and selecting “Who can see my stuff?”
The three main options are:
- Friends – Only people you’re friends with can see the post. If you’re posting photos of your children or any information you’d deem personal then this is what you need to select.
- Public – Anyone can see it whether they’re friends or not. If you want to be part of a public discussion to be seen by friends and within search; like on Twitter, then select this.
- Only You – Perhaps if you use Facebook as a repository for personal memories or a blog you can select Only You to ensure you, the account holder are the only one who sees it.
Here you can also select Custom to add Friends of Friends to the list of people who can see the post while there’s also the opportunity to post only for the eyes of various Groups you may be part of.
3. I want to hide my personal information
Thankfully, much of this can be controlled via the Privacy Check Up mentioned above. You can alter who sees what by heading to the About section of your profile and selecting Edit under each section. To alter privacy settings from Friends to Only Me will hide the information from your profile. In many cases you may want to remove it completely by clicking the X.
4. I want to hide posts from other people
If you’re still friends with an ex on Facebook, it might be considered poor form to post photos of you in a new relationship in a place where he/she can see them. You can get around this by hitting Custom from the “Who should see this?” menu and tagging people you wish to hide the post from.
5. I want to post something, but hide it from my timeline
Maybe you have something to say and don’t want it as a permanent record on your timeline, a thought, a meme, a joke in context that’s of its time, a photo, etc. You can achieve this by ticking the Hide From Timeline box in the post field.
6. I want to stop people sharing my photos and posts
If you’ve shared a photo or a status on Facebook, it’s open to be re-shared by those who have access to it. That means Friends and, if you’ve tagged people, Friends of Friends. If the post is Publicthen anyone in the world can share it There’s no way around that, other than to set the post to Only Me in the first place, which kind of defeats the point in most cases.
7. I want to limit who can send me friend requests
Click Settings > Privacy and head to “who can send me friend requests.” You can change it from Everybody to Friends of Friends, but that’s about as far as you can go. This is also accessible form the Privacy Shortcuts accessed by clicking the padlock.
8. I want to block someone
Use the Privacy Shortcuts or go to Settings > Blocking, begin typing the name of the friend (or ex-friend) you wish to block from your account. You can also block certain people from sending you messages, but you have to be friends with them.
It’s also possible to block people people you’re not friends with by heading to their profile, clicking the “…” on the right hand side and selecting Block.
9. I want to limit who can look me up through contact information
Facebook probably has your phone number and some email addresses. If folks (i.e. potential employers, old flames, stalkers, etc.) were to enter these in search, they may be able to discover your profile. In Settings > Privacy you can correct this by selecting either Everyone, Friends of Friends or Friends.
10. I want my Facebook page kept off Google
There’s no hiding from Facebook’s overarching Search engine, all you can do is lock down your privacy settings and hope you have a common name. However it’s different in the case of other search engines like Google. Within Settings > Privacy, you can ensure your Facebook profile is exempt by selecting No.
11. I want to protect my location
Facebook loves it when you check into places, it gobbles up all of that lovely data to attract advertisers. However, you may want to protect your location. The very obvious step is not to click the location pin when posting.
However, when you’re using the mobile app, Facebook may try to use GPS and Wi-Fi to name your location. You can prevent this from happening by entering the Location settings on your mobile device and denying Facebook access.
In iOS: Settings > Privacy > Location > Facebook > Never