Like many of you I have a profile on Facebook. And like many of you I’ve become addicted to the social media site. Facebook is great for connecting with old friends and classmates, family members and collegues, but when does this social media paradise become dangerous? Like all social media platforms, Facebook has it’s set of privacy settings to limit who can see what about you. This is good if you use the service for both professional and personal use. In the following paragraphs I’m going to do a walk through of the privacy settings in Facebook and what I personally do to make sure I know what certain groups are seeing.

One of the first things and most time consuming tasks you’re going to need to do if you want to allow different people is to setup up groups for all of your friends and classify them. Below is how I have people grouped:

friends-groups

Now this grouping of people, especially for those who have been on Facebook for a long time, will be a bit painful but it’s well worth it especially when your job or even life might depend on it.

You first need to go to the privacy page in Facebook:

privacy 1 fb

Once on that page you’ll see the different areas where you can set privacy levels:

Privacy Area Page 1

We’re going to first go into the Profile property area:

As you see above, I have it setup so that only certain people can see certain information. The key to limiting certain peoples access in a more pin-point way goes back to spending the time setting up groups. You’ll see that I’ve limited some areas to exclude specific groups. This will keep them from seeing that particular part of information. This is great to make sure potential or current employers don’t see the pictures of you riding a bull at a bar or of your 21st birthday party.

Now the next step is to go to the second tab and do the same for your contact information.

When you’re done that we can move on to the more interactive parts of your profile.

When you first get your Facebook account, it is a clean slate and is about a pourus as a fishing net. Everything you do is completly transparent and everyone can see what you’re doing, who your doing it with, and… well you get the idea. A lot of this is unknown to many users until they get really into Facebook and often this can be too late. A good way to prevent a crisis before it starts is to spend some time with the the tab called Newsfeeds and Wall. (I skipped over the Search, but we’ll go back to it after this.)

Privacy Area Page 1

When you get to the News Feed and Wall area your screen will look like this:

Now this is more cut and dry than the profile privacy area. This is because you’ve already set your preferences for who can see what about you. This is more fine tuning. This area is rather self explanetory so dive right in. I’ll wait here and when you’re done we’ll continue.

Okay. Welcome back. Go back to the main privacy area. You’ll notice right above the News Feed and Wall link there is a button for Search. This area will allow you to specify how much a person can see prior to becoming your friend.

In my opinion, I would let everyone find you. That makes Facebook a great way to reconnect with old friends and what not. Keep in mind that very stripped down Facebook page will appear in search results in Google and the other major search engines. But as you can see from mine, it’s not much.

So, in my opinion let everyone find you. It’s up to you to determine who is your friend.

Now the last MAJOR issue with privacy is controling how much a Facebook application can say about you to your friends and others. To edit this you’ll need to go to the settings area in the top menu and select Application settings.

Now in order for most applications to run, they need to have access to your information. Facebook does regulate what information they can actively keep on their own servers and they treat violations of their development rules strictly.

To edit a what an application says about you click edit settings. You’ll be greated with a popup options menu:

This dialog is worth investigating and tweaking. Essentially what you are controlling is how much information is posted when you interact with a particular application. Even with some control, still pick your applications wisely. Some are just ploys to get information out of you about your computer usage, where as others are lots of fun and worth checking out.

I hope this quick primer to the Facebook privacy panel was informative and helpful. Please feel free to share this post with your friends, just please attribute it back to this blog with a link.

I’d also link to hear your thoughts, post your comments below! Thanks!

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Seth Goldstein is the Principal Creative Director at Goldstein Media LLC. He has been in the Web design and Internet marketing business for more than 10 years. A self-proclaimed technologist, Seth is addicted to all types of technology. He loves to help businesses of all sizes figure out the best way to use the Internet to grow their business.
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