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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection | post

Now Is a Great Time to Review Your Facebook Privacy Settings

by Joe Mason on

In my last blog I talked about Facebook's new search engine, "Graph Search ," which allows any "friend" you may have added at one time or another to do a detailed search of any and all information you might have ever  made available on your page. It seems to me that, given this new level of access, this might be a very good time for all Facebook users — and this includes our kids if they have Facebook pages — to review their privacy settings and, in general, to police what they have made available.

One fact that most of the experts seem to agree on is that probably not even one out of ten Facebook users has ever changed the default security settings. This means there is a high possibility that you allow your profile information to be available for anyone to search and allows all other Facebook users — potentially all one billion — to search your private information and contact you.

The fact of the matter is that the majority of Facebook users who do not tweak their privacy settings on a regular basis have no real idea of how to do so. So let me give you some help and, remember, you can always go to Facebook's help site that explains how to set privacy levels in great detail or you can search online for "setting Facebook privacy" to get very detailed and helpful advice.

To start, when you log onto your Facebook page, you'll see in the top toolbar a lock symbol. Click on it and it will bring you to the "Privacy Shortcuts Menu." Immediately, you'll see a number of areas that you can quickly manage including who can see your posts, who will, in the future, be able to see your posts, who can now view your "timeline" and who is able to contact you. If you still have the default settings, you need to make changes.

This is only a start. At the bottom there is a "See More Settings" link. Click on it and you have the ability to access your Activity Log, where you can and should review your list of past activities to remove all that you do not want to share. There is also a "Request and Removal" tool you can use to ask "friends" to take down pictures of you.

Very important — under "Privacy", you are given the now all-important question: "Who can look me up?" The default setting is "Everyone." At the very least this should be changed to "Friends" or refined to specific persons.

There is now an apps section included under "Privacy". This needs close attention as these days so many apps are, or can be, linked to Facebook. Go to the "Apps You Use" section and make necessary changes by un-checking boxes to limit access by apps to your personal information.

You should also review your Profile. Do you really want all this information out there for people to see? Instead, you might want to remove location information, religious and political details, and other bits of information that you really don't want to, or shouldn't, share.

Really, this is only a start — a very brief outline. But a review of your privacy settings, and making sure your kids do the same, must be an immediate concern.