Securing Your Profile in Facebook — Part 2 of 2
By Cynthia Hetherington, Hetherington Group
Cynthia Hetherington has more than 15 years of experience in research, investigations and corporate intelligence. She is a consultant for Thomson Reuters and the founder of Hetherington Group, a consulting, publishing and training firm focusing on intelligence, security and investigations. Visit Cynthia on Twitter.
Adjusting privacy settings
To adjust the privacy settings for your Facebook account, log into your profile, go to the “Account” tab in the top right corner, and select “Privacy Settings.” Under “Connecting on Facebook,” choose “View Settings.” This section explains how people who are not your Facebook friends are currently viewing your information. There are several areas to control your settings: search for you on Facebook, send you friend requests, send you messages, see your friend list, see your education and work, see your current city and hometown, and see your likes, activities, and other connections. The first three categories have three choices of who can view that information: friends only, friends of friends, or everyone. The remaining sections have the same settings available in addition to offering the opportunity to customize the setting. By choosing the customize function, you are able to specify to whom the content is visible. The options are: friends only, friends of friends, “only me,” or specific people (already on your list of friends). It is also possible to hide the content from certain people who are already included on your list of friends as well. Afterward, you can select “Preview My Profile” to view how your profile appears to those who are not your Facebook friends. After completing the settings in that area, select “Back to Privacy.”
Sharing on Facebook
In the next section, “Sharing on Facebook,” the features which can be edited are: your status, photos and posts, bio and favorite quotations, family and relationships, photos and videos you’re tagged in, religious and political views, birthday, permission to comment on your posts, places you check in to, and contact information. The options for who can view these areas are: everyone, friends of friends, friends only, recommended, or custom. Facebook’s recommended setting is to have your status, photos, posts, bio, favorite quotations, family, and relationships set to be viewed by everyone. Facebook’s recommendation for photos and videos you’re tagged in, religious and political views, and birthday is that they should be available to friends of friends in addition to the previous information. Permission to comment on your posts, places you check in to, and contact information is recommended by Facebook to be viewed by friends only. There is also an option to let friends of people tagged in photos and posts see them. After you make your selections, choose “Apply These Settings.”
Apps and web sites
To determine how much of your Facebook information is available to Web sites (including search engines) and apps, edit the settings for “Apps and Web sites”. The default setting is for apps to have access to your list of Facebook friends and any information shared with everyone. The apps and Web sites you or your friends use have access to your name, profile picture, gender, networks, friend list, user ID, username, and any other information you share with everyone, unless you turn off all platform apps and Web sites. You can change what you share with apps by modifying the settings. You can also view or remove your apps, or you can turn off platform completely. According to Facebook, “Turning off platform means you won’t be able to use any platform apps or websites and Facebook won’t share your information with them.” You can control how much information is shared with apps, games, and Web sites when used by your friends by editing the settings. You can also control who sees your app and game activity by editing those settings, as well.
There is a feature called “instant personalization,” which you can choose to enable or disable. The way this works is when you open certain Web sites that Facebook has selected, you will have a “personalized” view. This personalized experience translates into music you like playing, your friends’ reviews of movies, local establishments, or travel recommendations appearing on these sites. The Web sites involved in the personalization program are: Bing – Social Search, Pandora – Personalized Music, TripAdvisor – Social Travel, Yelp – Friends’ Local Reviews, Rotten Tomatoes – Friends’ Movie Reviews, Clicker – Personalized TV Recommendations, Scribd – Social Reading, and Docs – Document Collaboration. If you do choose to use instant personalization, these Web sites can access your name, profile picture, and any other information that you allow to be available to everyone. Instant personalization can always be turned off, in which case none of your information will be available to those Web sites. You can also choose whether or not you would like people to be able to view your Facebook profile when they enter your name in a search engine. Once you are satisfied with your settings in apps and Web sites, select “Back to Privacy.”
Creating block lists
Another feature on Facebook is the ability to create block lists. You can block people, app invitations, and event invitations. At the bottom of the Privacy Settings page, under Block Lists, select “Edit your lists.” On this page, you can create lists of people, apps, and events that you would like blocked. Some people enjoy the apps and games Facebook offers, but if these do not appeal to you, it can be a nuisance to be constantly bombarded with game and app requests. This is when the blocking feature is most useful. The steps to securing your privacy on Facebook work best when you follow some basic guidelines: do not use Facebook as a popularity contest; if you would not be friends with someone in real life, do not be friends with them on Facebook; do not write anything that you would not say in real life, especially on someone’s wall since you do not know who could be viewing what you write; be cautious of photos taken of you and posted since you do not know who will be able to view someone else’s photos of you.