6 Steps to Better Facebook Privacy Management

Recent changes have made it even more difficult to keep your Facebook account private. In fact, it's now easier than ever for your profile to be found via search engines and other methods. Here are six steps that you can take today to keep your profile, and its contents, as private as possible.

Facebook privacy
More changes, less privacy

Facebook has rolled out new changes to how Graph Search works, introducing new risks to what was once somewhat controlled and private information [Read more about it here]. In order to address that, the best option (outside of deleting Facebook accounts entirely), is to limit how your posts, tags, images, and location, are shared. Read on for the steps to take to reclaim some privacy on Facebook.

Facebook privacy settings
Credit: Steve Ragan
Start in the Privacy Settings section

Controlling your information on Facebook starts by configuring the Privacy Settings area. Head to the Privacy Settings section by using the drop down menu on the upper lefthand corner of your profile.

 

Future posts setting
Credit: Steve Ragan
Who should see your posts?

Facebook's main privacy tools are broken down into three primary areas, which focus on who can see what you post, who can contact you, and how you can be looked up using the Web or personal details (phone numbers, or email). 

When it comes to who can see your stuff, the first option deals with "future" posts – as in posts from this point forward. The recommended setting is friends, as this limits the amount of people who can passively see what you've written. It will also limit the types of posts that appear in Graph Search results. 

Facebook Activity Log
Credit: Steve Ragan
Examine your Activity Log thoroughly

After that, you'll want to enable the Activity Log, which allows you to be selective about which posts appear on your timeline. Through the log, you'll see all the images and posts you're tagged in, with the option to remove the tag, as well as disallow it from appearing on your timeline. You can also see (and delete) old posts, images, check-ins, and comments you've made.

Facebook past posts setting
Credit: Steve Ragan
Limit past posts

The last thing to do in this section is to limit your past posts. Facebook will throw a warning when you attempt to do this, because all of the old post (going back to your very first one) that may be public will be removed. For a company that encourages sharing, this isn't something they'd like to see. Also, the process cannot be reversed. Keep in mind - individual posts can be left public if you wish, but the recommendation is to limit all of them, and then sort out what should be kept after the fact. 

Facebook privacy settings
Credit: Steve Ragan
How easily can your profile be found?

After altering those settings, you'll move on to manage the contact and lookup functions. When it comes to who can send friend requests on the site, the option is really a personal one. Most people (myself included) opt to leave this set to everyone. However, to lower the amount of network spam from random users, the strict filtering option is enabled for Inbox messages.

For lookups, friends only is the safest bet, otherwise anyone who already sees your email address or phone number, can use those to search for your profile. Also, if you allow search engines to link to your profile, then sites like Google and Bing can index and link to your profile and timeline.

Facebook privacy settings
Credit: Steve Ragan
Future posts can now be managed for privacy

After you've managed your Activity Log, which has clear markers as to the sorting and management of posts, there may come a time in a single post on your timeline needs to have its privacy settings changed. When this happens, you can do this directly by clicking the arrow just under your name. Optionally, there is a pencil icon to the upper right of the post's box, which can be used to edit or delete the post.