5 Facebook Privacy Settings You Need to Know About Now!

Like getting coffee in the morning, Facebook has become a part of daily life. These days it seems like everyone is using it. The only real danger from coffee is that nervous, high feeling from drinking too much. But Facebook can pose a serious risk to your privacy.

Every time you use Facebook, you are putting information about yourself on the Web. Every post, every picture, every update gets published. You need to know how to protect your privacy.

Facebook updates its privacy settings routinely. That's good news in an ever-changing online world. But that also makes it difficult to monitor what you're keeping private. So I've boiled down the five most important privacy settings on Facebook. These will help you stay safe while having fun connecting with friends and family.

The first place you want to visit is the Privacy Settings page on Facebook. Go to Facebook and log in. Then look to the top right and click on Account>>Privacy Settings. This page is where you adjust most of your privacy settings.

Contact information

The first thing to protect is your contact information. You really don't want some creep finding out where you live.

On the Privacy Settings page, click "Customize settings." After the new page loads, scroll to the bottom. You should see an area for Contact information.

Your contact information is made up of five parts. These are your mobile phone number, another phone number, a physical address, instant messenger screen name and your e-mail. Next to each is a dropdown menu. Here you choose who can see that information.

The dropdown menu will give you several choices. Those are Everyone, Friends and Networks, Friends of Friends, Friends only, and Customize. Select Customize.

This will open a new window in the center of your screen. You'll see a section labeled Make this visible to. Next to "These people," select Only Me. On the next line it says "And this network." Make sure no networks are selected. Then click Save Setting. Do this for every piece of your contact information.

Public searches

The next setting you should secure is public searching. This will hide your information and pictures from search sites like Google.

To find the public searching options, navigate to the Privacy Settings page. In the bottom right, there is a section labeled Applications and Websites. Click Edit Settings below that. This loads a new page. The last item on this page is Public search. Click Edit Settings directly to the right of it.

Here you'll see a quick description of what public search does. Basically it allows search sites to see a preview of your profile. This lets others search for you without using Facebook. Below the description is a checkbox that says "Enable public search." Make sure that is unchecked.

While you're there, you should also click the Basic Directory Information link. These settings will affect how other Facebook users can search for you. For example, let's say you only want friends to see you. You would set each to Friends Only.


Another feature of Facebook you should be aware of is Places. You can use Facebook to check in to a real-world location. This lets the world know where you are. Some people find it helpful. Others see it as just plain creepy. Of course, it could be a boon to stalkers.

It's easy enough to turn this feature off. Head back to your Privacy Settings page. Then click "Customize settings." Under "Things I Share" look for "Places I check in to." Click the dropdown menu to the right. Now select Customize. In the window that opens, use the dropdown to select Only Me. Make sure you have no networks selected below that. Click Save Setting.

Once you're back on the Privacy Settings page look for "Include me in People Here Now after I check in." Make sure the Enable check box on the right is unchecked.

You'll want to make sure your friends can't check you in to Places either. On the Privacy Settings page, look for the section labeled "Things others share." The last setting should read "Friends can check me in to Places."

Click Edit Settings on the right. A new window will open in the center of your screen. Next to "Friends can check me in to places" make sure it says Disabled. Select Okay.

Photo albums

Now let's protect your photos. Each photo album you create has its own independent privacy settings. You can also adjust these from the Privacy Settings page.

First click "Customize settings." Click "Edit album privacy" under "Things I share." Now you can adjust who can see which albums. The smartest thing to do is to set all albums to Friends Only. That way your friends can still see your photos. But the weirdoes who try to stalk your profile can't.

While you're on the Privacy Settings page, let's limit what pictures others can share. Look for "Things others can share." The first option is "Photos and videos I'm tagged in." You should change that to Friends Only.


Finally, the last setting you really want to concern yourself with is app privacy. I recently told you how Facebook apps were leaking private information. But this is important stuff. So here's a refresher on protecting yourself while using apps.

Navigate to the Privacy Settings page. Click "Edit your settings" under Applications and Websites. There are two parts you'll want to adjust.

First in "Applications you use," select Edit Settings. You'll see a list of all of the applications you use. Each one has its own settings. You can go through each app by clicking Edit Settings next to it.

Some apps will require information such as your name, profile picture and the like. There's no way to stop the app from getting required information. You can, however, remove the app. To the far right of each application is a gray X. Clicking it removes the application.

After you've adjusted these settings, click Back to Application Privacy. In the section that says "Info accessible through your friends," click Edit Settings. A new window will open in the center of your screen. Uncheck all of the options here. Then select Save Changes.

Keep in mind these settings aren't comprehensive. There's certainly more you can do to protect your privacy. Lucky for you, I've found a couple of useful tools that can help.

ReclaimPrivacy and BitDefender safego are two good options. Both give you feedback on how strong or weak your privacy settings are. BitDefender also gives you added protection against malicious Facebook links.

ReclaimPrivacy.        BitDefender safego.

Tips are from Kim Komando's Tips of the Day



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