Social Media Privacy: Focus on Facebook

It’s just about everyone’s favorite social medium – trust us, we’re fans of Facebook, too. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family near and far away, no matter what part of your past or present they’re from.

But before you post another status update or adorable kid photo, it’s worth your time to take a look at your privacy and security settings. You’ll have more control over who sees your posts and how your information is shared.

And don’t forget to read the tips we shared recently for teaching kids about online safety and security. They apply to adults, too!

Getting Started

Find your privacy settings under the little arrow near your name at the top of the browser version of Facebook. Click the arrow and choose “Settings” from the drop-down list.


Who Sees Your Posts?

The first basic setting to look at is who sees your posts. When you set up your Facebook profile, the default settings for posts and photos is public. Most experts recommend changing that to “Friends” so that the only people who see your posts are the ones with whom you’ve chosen to connect. We agree.


If you’ve divided your friends into lists, you can set one of those lists as the default audience for your posts. (You can also choose your audience on the fly each time you make a post if you want to narrow beyond your default setting.)

While you’re in this section, it’s also worth your time to look at the settings for who can contact you (through messages) and who can look you up. We recommend limiting these to friends or friends of friends. This makes it harder for strangers (or heaven forbid, a stalker) to find you online.

Your Timeline and Tagging

When friends tag you in a post or photo, those things appear on your timeline. By default, this happens without your intervention or approval. We recommend you take control of your timeline by limiting who can post on your timeline and turning the review option to “on.” You can also change who can see those posts – most experts say you should limit it to just your friends. If you’re worried about something embarrassing being on your timeline, you can change the option to “Only Me.”


It’s a good idea to use the “View As” feature to see how other people see your timeline. You might be surprised what is public. Your cover photo is always public; you can control just about all the rest. (You can change the setting on your past cover photos to “Friends,” but if you reuse the pictures, they’ll be made public again.)

Social Ads

Facebook uses some of your activity – such as liking a page or commenting on a post – to compose ads for its website. If you don’t want your activity to be used in ads, you can opt out.


Your Search History

Facebook keeps a list of everything and everyone you’ve ever searched for while using its website. You can clear this information – either by individual post or all posts. Click the “Activity Feed” button on the cover photo on your profile page, and in the left-hand column, click “more” under “Comments.” Choose “Search” from the list.

You’ll see a list of all the searches you’ve done on Facebook. You can delete individual posts or you can clear it all using the “Clear Searches” button at the top right.


Can Google Find You?

By default, your presence on Facebook is searchable by search engines. If you’d rather your Facebook profile not be found in a web search, you can disable that option. Find it under “Who can look me up?” under Privacy.


Prevent Apps from Collecting Your Info

Apps and games on Facebook collect data about users and their friends. You can decide what information is shared – with a few exceptions. You won’t be able to stop everything from being shared unless you turn off all apps. Doing this will prevent you from using apps and games on Facebook. Find this under “Apps Others Use” under the “Apps” option.


Worried about your online security on social media and elsewhere on the web? We’re security experts here at PNSolutions, and we’re happy to talk with you and your employees about smart online behavior. Contact us today!

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