Controlling your privacy on Facebook

A simple and easy guide to how to set up your privacy settings on Facebook.

I mainly use Facebook to communicate with my friends, facilities like sharing photos of fun nights out are great. But what do you do when someone you would not want access to this asks to become your friend. It could be your boss or work colleague, or if you are a politician a constituent. You don’t want to seem rude by saying no whilst at the same time wanting to keep your personal and political life separate.

By setting up privacy settings you can say yes to your constituent and become there online friend, whilst protecting your Facebook privacy.

There are also some ‘dodgy’ profiles out there. People who are not who they seem to be and may be fishing your profile for a story. Here you may want to create a privacy setting which means they can still add you as a friend but will find nothing of interest (or of use to them) on your profile.

Here is how to create a profile that would allow them to add you as a friend but would show them nothing.

Click the friends link at the top of the Facebook navigation

Facebook privacy

Click ‘Make a new list’ and enter a name for your list

Facebook privacy

I created a group called ‘see nothing’ and after pressing enter was prompted to enter names for whom I wanted to be part of this group

Facebook privacy

Now if you know me this was only a test – so the names here were removed afterwards. Enter a list of people you wish to include. When people ask to become your friends in future you will be able to add them to a list as you accept them.

Facebook privacy

Removing someone from the list is very easy, just click the x by the persons details.

Facebook profile

So you have created your list of people. This list can also be used as a mailing list, enabling you to email a group of friends without entering their names separately. For the purpose of this we want to restrict their access. To do this now click the ‘Privacy’ link in the Facebook navigation.

Facebook privacy

Here I have selected ‘Profile’. You then need select to ‘customise’ access for each element that you wish to restrict access to.

Facebook privacy

This will then provide the ability to ‘Edit Custom Settings’. Click the ‘Edit Custom Settings’ link for each item

Facebook privacy

Click ‘Edit Custom Settings’ for each element you wish to restrict access to and enter the name of your list.

Facebook Privacy

Members of these lists will now no longer have access to this content.

Facebook privacy

Make sure you save those changes then also customise settings for your applications. To do this click the applications link in the left hand navigation then select each item that you wish to restrict access to on Facebook.

Facebook privacy

Keeping it private on Facebook

Facebook has improved the level of control you can put on which friends can see what content on your Facebook profile. Previously you had the choice of someone either seeing everything or setting up a limited profile where you could control what aspects of your profile that this second group of people can see. With just two choices the level of control was limited.

Why is this additional control so welcome? Why should you set up privacy on your Facebook profile?

After initially resisting it’s lure, and after endless ‘Facebook bullying’ by friends singing it’s praises and promising me that life would never be the same after joining – I signed up to Facebook and was immediately hooked, and life – or at least my time on line – has not been the same.

As my number of friends increased it was not long before ‘strangers’ were asking to become my friend – I remember the first time I tentatively asked ‘Sorry do I know you?’ to be told that they were a resident in my area who was pleased to have found one of their local representatives. Even some of those who asked to become a friend who I knew, I didn’t really want them to see my whole profile- give them access to every part of my life.

Up until that point I had enjoyed sharing my social life with friends on Facebook, with over 131 photo albums uploaded. I had worked out how to stop ‘the world’ being able to access all my details – restricting access to a majority of my profile to just my friends, but saying no to one of my constituents could give the wrong impression….

With the limited profile you could restrict access to just about every aspect of your Facebook profile, but with just one limited profile to choose from – what if you have a relative you want to share wedding pictures with but not the last works Christmas party or the fact you’ve added a ‘Are you interested’ or some other dating add on?

Controlling your privacy sessions on Facebook is like managing an invite list to a party. You may only invite those special friends that you trust whilst you are letting your hair down – but if you do do something that you may not want everyone to know about you have to trust that the friends you invite don’t whip out a camera to capture the moment for prosperity – though if they do – that they control the privacy on their Facebook profile. Whatever you add to your profile, someone who has access could do a screen capture and there is nothing you will ever be able to do about that. This is not about hiding information but with an increasing number of employers ‘Googling’ employees prior to interviewing them you really have to control your personal on-line profile from your professional life.

Enhance privacy on Facebook
With enhanced privacy on Facebook you can control access to key areas of your profile both by the general ‘limited profile’ or restrict access on an individual basis. Areas that you can control access to on an individual basis

Basic Info
Personal Info
Status Updates
Photos Tagged of You
Videos Tagged of You
Online Status
Education Info
Work Info

Should I control my privacy on Facebook

Everyone should set up privacy on Facebook, especially for details such as your home phone number and address – do you really want this in the public domain along with a Facebook status that says you are on holiday for a week? Limit photographs just to your friends – would you want your current or future employer to see what you got up to last weekend?

For busy politicians Facebook is a brilliant way of keeping in touch with friends, sharing pictures and generally maintaining contact with people who otherwise you could lose touch with due to a packed schedule. It can also be an opportunity for politicians to connect with their constituence – with improved privacy from Facebook you can now use your Facebook profile to do both.