Sharing – what’s your line in the sand? Managing your Facebook privacy settings

privacy_pah

Image courtesy of Royalty-free cartoons

Facebook is a wonderful thing, but understanding, and keeping up with privacy setting changes, can be hard. A friend of mine recently complained about her Facebook newsfeed and how it is filled with a someone-who-shall-remain-nameless’ constant brag posts; she didn’t want to unfriend this person but was thinking of coming off Facebook as she had several friends like that and just didn’t want to see it all any more. I asked her why she didn’t just unfollow these people– my friend had no idea what I was talking about. So then I asked her what Facebook privacy settings she had – she didn’t know.

So for my friend, and for others out there who aren’t sure about how best to manage who sees what on their Facebook Profile, here is my take on the basics.

First a quick rundown on the different types of ‘audience’ as, in order to manage your privacy, you need to understand the differences between each audience’s ‘rights’ regarding what they can see of your Facebook Profile:

  • Public/Everyone (can see all your stuff)
  • Friends of Friends (as well as Friends, people who are Friends with your Friends can see your stuff)
  • Friends (only your friends can see your stuff)*
  • Only me (only you can see this stuff!)

*Friends can also be sub-divided into Friend Lists (Close Friends and Acquaintances) which means you can enable some Friends to see more/less of your Facebook Profile and posts than others. Go to your Friends page to find out more about this.

Most of the privacy and timeline settings will ask you to select an ‘audience’ for that setting, giving you the ability to control how much of your Facebook life you share, how discoverable it is, and how much others can comment on it. And if you don’t select anything, Facebook will usually default to Public or (if you are lucky) Friends, so it is important to make your own decisions for this.

You might be fine with Public seeing your posts, but only Friends being able to contact you via Facebook. Your privacy settings should be influenced by your line in the sand. How much do you want to share? Following are some scenarios to help you decide on the settings that are right for you.

Scenario 1 – Too much information!
You have a Friend who is posting content you don’t agree with/makes you uncomfortable/annoys you. But you don’t want to ‘Unfriend ‘ them. How can you stop seeing their posts?
Recommended settings
Next time this Friend posts something that shows up on your Newsfeed, click on the small grey arrow to the right of their post. This will open up a dropdown menu containing several options. Select ‘Unfollow [name of Friend]’. This means that you will stop seeing their posts but stay Friends.

Scenario 2 – I don’t want to know!
A Friend is constantly sharing posts from a news source/website/company that you have an issue with. You don’t want to Unfriend them and you like seeing posts about what they have been up to but you really don’t want to hear any more about Company X.
Recommended settings
Next time this Friend posts something from Company X that shows up on your Newsfeed, click on the small grey arrow to the right of their post. This will open up a dropdown menu containing several options. Select ‘Hide Post’. This means that you will stop seeing posts from Company X if your Friend shares them, but you will still see their other posts.

Scenario 3 – There is no such thing as too much sharing!
You are new to Facebook, and want people to be able to ‘find’ you easily. You don’t mind who posts on your timeline, and you are happy to be tagged in any photo, checked in, by friends.
Recommended privacy settings for you:
Who can see my stuff? Public
Who can contact me? Everyone
Who can look me up? Everyone
Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your Profile? Yes
Recommended timeline and tagging settings
Who can post on your timeline? Friends
Review posts that friends tag you in before they appear on your Timeline? Off
Who can see what others post on your timeline? Friends of friends
Review tags people add to your own posts before the tags appear on Facebook? Off

Scenario 4 – I can’t refuse their Friend request but don’t want them seeing my stuff!
A work colleague/partner of a friend/someone you don’t want to offend has sent you a Friend Request . You really can’t refuse them but you don’t want them to see your posts, etc.
Recommended settings
Accept their request but then go to ‘Manage blocking’ and add them to your ‘Restricted List’. This means that they won’t see posts on Facebook (this only works if you have the privacy setting ‘Friends’ for ‘who can see my stuff?’). They will not be notified that they have been added to this list.

Scenario 5 – I don’t want prospective employer to know how much I party!
You are going for a job interview soon and you don’t want prospective employers looking in-depth at your Facebook profile, as you like to keep your work and social lives separate.
Recommended settings
Firstly, if you haven’t already, you should definitely make sure that you have ‘No’ selected in ‘Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your Profile?’. This means that if a prospective employer googles your name, your Facebook Profile will not be listed in the search results.

Secondly, you should check what your ‘Public Profile’ looks like currently as this will give you a guide as to whether you need to turn on some extra privacy settings.

To do this, go to ‘Timeline and tagging settings’, ‘Who can see things on my timeline?’ and then within ‘Review what other people see on your timeline’, then click on ‘View As’. This will open up the view of your Profile that ‘Everyone’ can see, in other words what is on public view.  If you think there is too much info there, you have probably left too many of your privacy settings as ‘Everyone’ and/or ‘Public’. Go back through them and check your settings (use the settings suggested for the scenarios above to help you), and then use the ‘View As’ tool again to check your Public Profile.

Scenario 6 – I am only on Facebook to keep in touch with a few people
You are on Facebook purely to be keep in touch with a select number of friends .You aren’t that interested in posting much but you like to keep up with what’s going on. You don’t want to build up your friends list that much, essentially you want to replicate your pretty tight existing social network, online.
Recommended privacy settings for you:
Who can see my stuff? Friends
Who can contact me? Friends of friends
Who can look me up? Friends
Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your Profile? No
Recommended timeline and tagging settings
Who can post on your timeline? Friends
Review posts that friends tag you in before they appear on your Timeline? On
Who can see what others post on your timeline? Friends
Review tags people add to your own posts before the tags appear on Facebook? On

I hope this article has helped you work out what your line in the sand is. If you want to know more, Facebook provides a lot of help pages about privacy settings here.

Advertisements

About Nicola

I am a proud book nerd who also has the travel bug bad; I LOVE recommending books to others (even when they aren't that interested) and spend way too much time looking at amusing cat photos on the internet.
This entry was posted in advice, social media and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Sharing – what’s your line in the sand? Managing your Facebook privacy settings

  1. JenQau says:

    Thanks. My settings are pretty locked down but always a good reminder to regularly review FB privacy settings incase an ‘update’ defaults your settings to fb’s preference.

  2. Thanks! This encouraged me to do a quick check of my settings.

  3. Pingback: Looking for a new job? Don’t forget to put your best foot forward online too! | have book, will travel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s