Controlling Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Do you know what
you’re sharing & do you mean to?

Facebook recently changed its terms of service  and depending on whom you believe or how you interpret that, it may affect what
you choose to share on the service and with whom.  (Note the change in terms that says your content
will survive the termination of your account.)

Okay, so now you’re wondering, “How do I keep future employers
from finding photos of me?” The easy way is not to let people tag you in photos
doing stupid things. But barring that, there are ways to limit information
people can see about you using the Facebook privacy settings. Here’s a quick guide on how to take control of your Facebook privacy.


When you sign up for Facebook, you are invited to join a
network. As time goes by, perhaps you realize that you don’t want to be
associated with that group any longer. And it’s not particularly clear how to
remove yourself. Here’s how:

  • Click on Settings in the top menu bar next to your name.
  • Select Account Settings from the drop down menu
  • Click the Networks tab
  • Choose the Network (if you are in more than one)
  • Click the “Leave Network” text link

You can also join additional Networks here.

Friend Lists

One of the most powerful – and underused – tools on Facebook is the Friend List. With this feature you can create lists or sub groups of your friends (like
work, friends from college, etc.) and send messages to those lists. You can
also use those lists to exclude people from certain information in your profile
(which we’ll cover in the next section), so you could create a work list or put
your children or parents (or both) in a list and control what information they

To create a Friend List:

  • Select Friends from the toolbar at the top of the page and
    select All Friends from the drop down menu.
  • On the left side of the page, you’ll see Friend Lists
  • Click on the box that says “Make a New List”
  • Name the list and select friends to add to the list.

You can edit, add to or delete a list from here as well.

Limited Profiles

Want to choose what information you want to share with what
people or even block particular people from seeing your information entirely? Limited profiles to the rescue. To access the privacy settings and created Limited Profiles:

  • Click on Settings in the top menu bar next to your name.
  • Select Privacy Settings from the drop down menu

You’ll see options for Profile, Search, News Feed & Wall
and Applications as well as an option to Block People entirely.

Let’s start with Profile
– there are two very important tabs here – Basic and Contact Information. The
Contact Information tab is the information you choose to share about how to get
in touch with you (email, phone number, address, etc.) – review the settings to ensure you want to share that with everyone.
Either limit who sees it or change the information shared if you’re not
comfortable with sharing that level of information.

The Basic Tab covers the way most people interact on
Facebook – status updates, photos, wall posts, etc. Note that there is a link
for “Edit Photo Albums Privacy Settings” under Photos Tagged of You. If you
have any photo albums, be sure you know the settings for each photo album.

Now that you’ve created lists, you can use those lists to
exclude people from particular areas. For example, as you can see below, in
Basic Info, I can select the Only Friends option and then use the Except These
People option and enter specific people or a Friend List to exclude people from
seeing that area of my profile. Be sure to click Okay and Save Changes.

Once you have set up the limited profiles, you can type in a
person’s name in the field at the top under “See how a friend sees your
profile:” to see the changes in what they can see and to ensure they are only
seeing the information you want.

The Search privacy
settings allow you to control who can find you in search (your friends can
always find you) and what information they will see. Perhaps most importantly,
you can control whether or not your search result is available outside of
Facebook in the search engines. If you do not want your information (including
what you are a fan of) available to the search engines, be sure to uncheck that
box. At the very least be sure to preview the page and ensure you’re happy with
the public listing that others would see. Again be sure to click Okay and Save Changes.

Under the News Feed
& Wall
privacy settings there
are two tabs including Social Ads and Actions within Facebook. The Social Ads
are when you see a person’s name attached to an advertisement – this is where
you can opt out of having your name and information used in those ads. Select “No one” from the drop down if you do not want to appear in Social Ads. Be sure to click Okay and Save Changes.

The Actions with Facebook tab allows to you choose which
information updates are shared with others include relationship status updates,
leaving a network, commenting on a variety of items, adding friends (dropping
friends will never be published). Be sure to click Okay and Save Changes.

Finally, under the Applications
privacy setting you can control what information is shared with the
applications you choose to authorize. You can also control whether Beacon can
post stories to your profile about purchases you have made or actions you have
taken on other sites (such as posting a review on Yelp). If you don’t wish to
allow Beacon to post stories to your profile then be sure to check that box. As
always, click Save Changes when you are done.


Will the new terms of service change what you decide to post
to Facebook? Have you created limited profiles for anyone? Let us know.

[UPDATE: As of Wednesday morning, Facebook has reverted to the prior terms of service while they review the changes. They’ve
also created a group for users to participate in the process. But all
of this means you really need to know how you’re sharing your information and
with whom.]

Lisa Crotty

Marketing Manager

Lisa is a Senior Optimization Specialist at Innate – her friends even teased that she A/B tested her name change. Lisa studied Philosophy of Science & Technology at Virginia Tech and is always asking why.

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