Facebook has established a variety of different security and privacy settings that are designed to assist individual users in creating an online profile experience that they feel comfortable with. As with any website that sponsors profiles and the sharing of information via messaging or e-mailing, there are certain dangers that exist on Facebook. It is important to know how to use Facebook privacy settings so that you minimize your risk as much as possible.
Facebook privacy settings are generally all located in about the same place on your Facebook account. Using Facebook privacy settings is as easy as familiarizing yourself with the “Privacy” page and the options that are listed therein. Specific guidance to some of the privacy settings will be listed below. Keep in mind that you will want to make sure to change any and all default settings unless you are comfortable leaving that part of your privacy setting available to all users. Here are some of the links that you will find on the “Privacy” page:
Steps to using Facebook privacy settings
“Search” — Following the “Search” option on the Privacy page will allow you to change settings in a drop-down menu which are meant to give you more control over who is able to find your profile in searches and what information they are granted access to once they do in fact find your profile.
“Profile” — The “Profile” link can lead you to a scroll down menu that leads you to a “contact information” heading which will allow you to control who sees your contact information. Also in the “Profile” section of the Privacy page you can control who can see certain parts of your profile. Here you will have the option of allowing only those marked as friends to see your profile or you can make changes to include or exclude certain people.
“Limited Profile” — The limited profile link allows you to decide what information you would like to include in your limited profile and who will be allowed access to that specific profile set-up. Some individuals can be given access to see more of your profile, and other users may only be granted a very conservative view of your profile. You can tailor your profile to each individual user that you can identify in a search. The “Edit Settings” link will also lead you to a menu where you can decide what you want to show on your Limited Profile by having you check boxes and preview the alterations that you have made in a preview window.
After becoming familiar with Facebook privacy settings, you will be able to see the areas where these settings may not be as strong as you would like. Since no privacy system is perfect, it is also important to keep in mind that you are largely responsible for managing your risk when you are online. This means being cautious about the kind of information that you make available to other users. Personal and identifying information should never be shared, nor is there really a safe need for this information to be shared. Ideally you should only be interacting with people who you know (and therefore they already have your contact information) or if you are on Facebook for business purposes, you should be using business contact information, not personal contact information. Be aware that although most people will never become a victim of identity theft or of a hacker, you want to make sure that you do everything in your power to lower your chances of being included in the unlucky few who do become victims.