Facebook, one of the fastest growing social networks, has become one of the fastest growing forums for embarrassing photos, awkward wall posts and uncomfortable sharing. Would you show your boss those pictures from last weekend or your opinion about the new office policy? Probably not, so why have it open to everyone on Facebook? Employers and schools are now monitoring Facebook and most people aren’t protecting themselves correctly.
Below are 3 basic privacy setting tips that will help you protect yourself on Facebook:
1. Use Facebook Friend Lists
Lists are by far the most important and coolest compliment to privacy settings on Facebook, and surprisingly, most people don’t use them. Friend lists allow you to group your friends together by category. For example, I have a Work, Professional Associations, Close Friends, Family and Other lists. These lists allow you to view friends by their list category on your feed and allow you to specify different privacy policies. For example, I want my close friends to see my wall posts, but I do not want my work or associations to.
To create lists:
- Go to the “Friend tab” on the left side of your home page
- On the next page, there will be a “Create List” tab in the top right corner
- You simply decide on a name and select the friends you wish to be in that list
To hide an element of your profile from a specific list:
- Go to Facebook privacy settings and choice which element you wish to conceal (make sure you go through each element).
For example, in the Profile Information there is “About me,” “Personal Info,” “Birthday,” etc.
- In the tabs on the right, pick “Custom”
- Type the name of this list in “Hide From” section
2. Protect Your Photos/Videos
Photos/videos can be some of the most incriminating elements on Facebook. Photos/videos are also something you don’t want to share with just anyone. For safety as well as avoiding embarrassing moments, you need to protect your photos/videos.
First, you want to make sure you protect the photos/videos you upload. On the upload page there is a privacy box. You can again choose “Custom” and select who to “Hide From” the album.
Second, you want to protect yourself from photos/videos others upload of you.
You cannot control someone tagging you in an album. You can detag yourself, but there is no way to prevent it initially. One way to ensure you do not have to explain a video or photo to a boss is to just ensure they cannot see any of your photos/videos.
- Go into privacy settings
- Under profile information, go to photos and videos of me
- Hit “Custom” and select who to “Hide From” the album
3. Search For Me On Facebook
When someone types in your name, what do you want them to be able to see? Facebook’s default search settings may surprise you and you definitely want to go in and modify them for your own personal preferences.
To change who can search for you:
- Go to Facebook privacy settings
- Go to the “Search” tab and choose who can find you
On the same page, there is a box “Public Search Results.” Having this checked allows search engines to access your publicly available information and any information you sent to everyone. By unchecking this, your Facebook page will not show up in search engines. Search engines can be a great tool to direct people to your page and another way for people to contact you, but if you are using Facebook as a private site used just to connect to friends, I would advise you to uncheck the box.
By going through each element of these tips, you can protect yourself from hackers or just embarrassing, awkward moments with co-workers. One of the most important things to remember though, is that to avoid embarrassing things being broadcast about you is to avoid doing the embarrassing thing!
If you can’t avoid that, at least make yourself aware of the settings available on all social sites to protect your privacy.