How to Control Your Facebook Privacy Settings

A quick and easy guide to taking control of your privacy on Facebook.

By David Daw
Thu, May 10, 2012

PC World

Facebook's privacy settings are confusing by design, often hiding similar settings in totally different menus and defaulting to unnerving levels of public sharing. Ensuring that you share the right information with the right people can be difficult, and Facebook even has a few specialized settings that will override your other privacy settings if you aren't careful. Luckily you can take control of your privacy on Facebook fairly quickly once you know what you're looking for.

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To that end we've assembled this quick guide to each part of Facebook's Privacy Settings page (accessible via the menu that drops down when you select the downward arrow at the top right of your Facebook page). Following it should help you get your Facebook information locked down on the double. For each section of Facebook's privacy settings, we provide a brief description of what to look for, along with notable settings that you'll probably want to adjust. Click on any screenshot to zoom in for a close look at the different privacy settings on display.

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Default Privacy

Description: Your default privacy setting is the first thing you'll see on your Privacy Settings page. It's also the most important item on the page, since it controls who can and can't see content that you post automatically. Facebook provides three options here: Public, which lets anyone see your new posts; Friends, which limits access to your content to people whom you've friended on Facebook; and Custom, which permits you to take a more granular approach to your privacy settings.

Notable settings: For many users, the Friends privacy setting should be perfectly acceptable, but you may want to experiment with Custom and familiarize yourself with the privacy customization menu--it's the same one you'll see across all of Facebook's privacy pages. You can configure the Custom setting to make posts visible to specific people, to custom lists of people, or to any school/work networks that you might be a part of. I set my default privacy setting to include friends of my friends, though some users may consider that setting too open to sharing.

How You Connect

Description: These settings, which control who can view your personal information and who can contact you on Facebook, constitute what most users think of as their Facebook privacy settings. Clearly they're among the most important privacy controls on the site.

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