How to control the 7 most critical Facebook privacy settings

Facecrooks.com is a great site for social networking privacy.

We had a good time putting these Facebook privacy tips together for our friends at Facecrooks and ReadWriteWeb.  If you aren’t familiar with Facecrooks, check them out:  they blog about privacy, online safety and scam alerts, especially on Facebook.

Onto our tips.  If you only have a few minutes, you can significantly improve your privacy protections on (and off) Facebook with our lucky seven tips.  Let’s get started!

1.  Limit your sharing to friends only

This is THE most important thing you can do with your Facebook privacy settings.  If you’re sharing with “friends of friends,” you’re exposing your info to an average of 150,000 people.  Let’s be serious:  no one has that many friends.  And when your data is open to the public, it can–and does–end up anywhere:  the Girls Around Me app and Spokeo.com are two creepy examples.  You can also use Abine’s Social Search to show you just how much of your info is floating around online.

In Facebook, go to “Privacy Settings,” then select “Friends” or “Custom” under the “Control your Default Privacy” header.  You should also go through each individual section below and make sure that you’re comfortable with its settings.

Limit your sharing to friends only.

2.  Stop your friends from sharing your info

Even if your own privacy settings are rock-solid, your info may still be publicly available through your friends.  The career networking app BranchOut provides a good example of how this can happen.  BranchOut requests “your basic info,” plus seven other permissions, including your and your friends’ current locations, your and your friends’ work and education history, and your email address.  Even without your permission, BranchOut can access your data with your friends’ permission.

Go to “Privacy Settings,” then “Apps, Games and Websites,” and edit settings for “How people bring your info to apps they use.”  Uncheck anything you’re not comfortable sharing.

For the greatest privacy, uncheck all the boxes above.

3.  Keep your face out of Facebook’s clutches

After a privacy backlash, Facebook renamed its facial recognition software “tag suggestions,” but don’t be fooled:  tag suggestions are facial recognition.  In Facebook’s own words, “If a friend uploads a photo that looks like you, we’ll suggest adding a tag of you.”  Protect yourself by turning tag suggestions off.

Go to “Privacy Settings,” then “Timeline and Tagging” and select “No One” next to “Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?”

Tag Suggestions are just Facebook’s facial recognition system.

4.  Take control over your tags and your Timeline

Would you rather A), let anyone (anyone, not just your friends) tag you in any photo without your approval; or B), be able to look tags over before they’re posted to your timeline?  If you care at all about privacy, B is your answer.  And yes, anyone can tag you now.  Facebook quietly slipped in this tag free-for-all alongside its tag review feature.

With tag review enabled, you’ll start receiving tag notices.  You’ll see them on your home feed as to-do’s, just like pending friend requests, messages, and comments.  You can then review pending tags and choose whether to approve them by hitting the check mark next to the item.

Go to “Privacy Settings, then “Timeline and Tagging,” and switch ON both “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline” and “Review tags friends add to your own posts on Facebook.

Review your info before the world can see it.

5.  Limit the audience for past posts

Think of this button as a 1-stop shop to edit the visibility of all of your past Facebook posts.  Anything that was open to the public or friends of friends will change to friends only.

Go to “Privacy Settings,” then “Limit the audience for past posts,” and click the “Limit Old Posts” button.

Limit the audience for past posts.

6.  Put Subscriber Search on private

Facebook now lets others subscribe to your updates–in other words, whatever you’re posting will show up in their home feed.  Unless you turn off Subscriber Search, your posts are open to the public and anyone can subscribe to you, whether you know them or not.  This also means that your “public timeline [will] show up in search engine results and let anyone look up your timeline by name.”

Go to “Account Settings,” then “Subscribers” on the lefthand side of the screen.  Uncheck the box next to “Subscriber Search.”

If you don’t want to show up in search engines, you need to fix this setting.

7.  Stop Facebook from watching you off Facebook, too

Facebook buttons can track you, even off of Facebook. Tell them to stop with Do Not Track Plus.

Facebook’s reach is so widespread that protecting your data requires control both on and off of the giant social network.  You know those Facebook Like and Connect buttons you see on almost every website?  They’re not just for sharing:  they’re tracking devicesFacebook buttons can track both members and non-members of Facebook, even if you never click them.  They transmit your clicks, browsing history, IP address, and more to Facebook. 1,992,780 websites currently use Facebook Like buttons, and that number continues to rise.

But have no fear:  Abine’s free browser add-on, Do Not Track Plus, blocks social button tracking by default.  It stops the buttons from sharing your information even before you click on them.  You can still share, however, but now the choice is yours, not Facebook’s.

To block social button tracking, try Do Not Track Plus for at Abine.com.  It’s available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer, and it’s free.  Learn more at http://abine.com/faqs.php.




39 comments shared on this article:

  • Very helpful and much needed information! Thanks Abine!

  • Bert says:

    Super information! Thank you!

  • Floris says:

    Wonderfull! Best spent 5 minutes this week ;) Keep up the good work!

  • Nicholas says:

    Under privacy settings>timeline and tagging, the option for “Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded” says “This is not yet available to you” and the default value is “Friends.” How can I change this to “No One” when this option is not available to me?

  • Georgy says:

    Thanks man, half of these i didn’t knew they exists:)

  • Chri says:

    Someone I am not friends with tagged me in a comment on a mutual friend’s post. I looked for the button to untag myself, and it was not there. I looked on my timeline for the post to remove the tag from there and it is not on my timeline. I then looked in my activity log to find the review/approval thing and it didn’t show up there either. I checked my friend’s page and the post, comment, and tag are all still there. This is very disconcerting to me. I want the tag gone, but I don’t want to block the person who tagged me, nor do I even know if that would help. How do I fix this? Or am I doomed to allow non-friends to tag me whenever they want and I can’t stop it or remove it?

  • Ah, I’ve been googling a lot before I found this post. Thanks for a good facebook guide!

    • Sarah Downey says:

      Sure thing! And regarding the problem you’re having with DNTMe, make sure you’re using the most recent, upgraded version of whichever browser you’re using (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or IE), and try downloading directly from http://www.abine.com/dntdetail.php. If you’re still having problems, let me know–I’m Sarah at Abine dot com.

  • I forgot to mention, DNT does not seem to work for me, does it work for you guys?

  • Krista says:

    VERY HELPFUL!! THANK YOU!

  • Christine R. says:

    A very helpful article. Thanks a lot for the privacy tips.

  • Cat says:

    Hi

    Quick question I have added a friend into my close friend list. However I am oy able to see their activity with our mutal friends . Would this be the case for all of that persons friends, or do you pick and choose people?. Thankyou

    • Hi Cat-

      I’m not really sure what you’re asking. Your close friends list could be two things: a list you use to organize the people whose updates/posts you don’t want to miss, or a privacy-restricting tool to limit the audience for a particular post (e.g., “limit this post to close friends”). Making someone a close friend won’t limit your ability to see their activity on Facebook; it makes it *more* likely that you’ll see it. I’m confused about where mutual friends come in to your question.

      -Sarah

  • Nicolai says:

    Very helpful post, Sarah !
    Thank you !

  • Kae says:

    This is an awesome post, thanks! I do have one more issue that I can’t seem to resolve.

    I don’t want it to show on my timeline when I leave a comment on someone else’s post; is there setting to stop this, or do I have to go to the activity log and delete it every single time?

  • Steph says:

    I posted a video that is set to my friends only for viewing. Someone on my friend’s list shared my video and on her share, it says it’s shared to her friends only. My question is, is it only our mutual friends that can view her share of my video or is it ALL OF HER FRIENDS???? Please help.

  • Steph says:

    I just sent post without email address.

  • Aaronisha says:

    How to stop someone from exposing ur pictures on kik

  • tanbir ahmed tj says:

    wow.

  • Landon says:

    Hello to all, because I am actually keen of reading this weblog’s post to be updated daily.

    It contains nice data.

  • Fantastic blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
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  • shubhanshu saxena says:

    can I choose who can see Post and other things I’ve liked and comment?.

    Can i control notification who p like and comment and then who can get notification

  • So why all of a sudden somebody im not friends with statuses start showing on my news feed?? Do this mean they keep constantly viewing my profile or something??

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  • Vicki Cox says:

    What I would like to figure out is how to NOT repost something just because I hit the “like” button or put a comment. Sometimes I click on the “like” something but don’t want to “share” it because it has language in it that might offend some of my “friends”. Also I’ve posted pictures and some of my friends left a comment or hit the “like” button and it re-copied the post and further comments were on their re-post and not on my page for me to see who left comments.
    Thanks for your help….

  • gloria says:

    I was wondering if the setting for Tagging the same as Sharing a link. I dont see any privacy for “sharing a link” option. Can this be turned off as well. The way I see it it’s the same as tagging someone and still don’t have control over their account :( Help!

  • Facebook Mention Tagging Blocker is an extension for google chrome will block mention and tags from all users or specific users…

    It’s available now in chrome store: http://goo.gl/LNpIVq

  • Sherrie says:

    How do I remove the time that states ” on line 3 hours ago” from my profile email?

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  • Elijah says:

    Helpful :)

  • Cez says:

    Sorry, it doesn’t work on iPad. I have IOS7.

    Thanks



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  2. [...] privacy settings. Manage who sees your status updates and photos on social media sites. We suggest limiting sharing to friends or making custom lists of friends with greater access. You may want to block exes or [...]


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