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5 essential Facebook privacy tips

It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the changes that Facebook makes to its privacy settings. According to UK publication Which? Computing, there have been nine major changes in the last 18 months alone. In a recent survey, the magazine found that almost half of all Facebook members failed to  keep pace with the changes, including 19 percent that had never changed their privacy settings at all.

At the same time as it’s been making all those privacy changes, Facebook has been introducing features like Timeline, which encourages openness and urges users to post even more information about their lives. So what can you do to retain control over what you share through your own page and what gets posted about you elsewhere on Facebook?

Instead of trying to understand every Facebook privacy option, it’s worth concentrating on the ones that really matter. But which are they? Which are the privacy settings that can really make a difference to how you and your kids use Facebook?

Here are The Online Mom’s 5 essential privacy tips for a better and safer Facebook experience:

Keep personal details to a minimum

Make sure who don’t reveal precise personal information or anything else that could be used to steal or compromise your identity.

Click on the arrow next to Home and choose Privacy Settings. Click on editing your profile. Check what you are displaying under Basic Information and Contact Information from the list on the left-hand side and make sure you are comfortable with the information you disclose and who can see it.

Some suggestions: do not post your mailing address; do not post your phone number; if you post your birthday, just post the day and month and not the year. Make sure you use the View My Profile option to see how your profile looks to others.

Pre-approve other people’s tags

One of the biggest problems with Facebook is other people’s ability to “tag” you in posts, photos and videos without your knowledge. Although you can’t stop people tagging you, you can prevent those tagged posts or images appearing  on your own Facebook page before you have had a chance to approve them.

Choose Privacy Settings, go to How Tags Work and click on Edit Settings. Enable the first two options, so they display On. Setting up a review of tags will not stop tagged posts or images appearing elsewhere, but at least you will have the ability to keep the ones you don’t like off your own page.

Control what information is shared with apps

One of the biggest threats to your privacy is the amount of information that is shared voluntarily or involuntarily with third-party apps.

To review the amount of information you share with apps, choose Privacy Settings, go to Apps and Websites and click on Edit Settings. Go to Apps you use and click on Edit Settings. You can click on each app to see what data you share with that app. Remove the apps that you no longer use or want.

To control the amount of your information that others can share with third-party apps, go to How people bring your info to apps they use and click on Edit Settings. You can then select only the information that you want those apps to see. (Suggestion: Uncheck every box.)

Turn off public search

Your Facebook profile and news feed may be searchable through public search engines. If you don’t want that to happen, choose Privacy Settings, go to Apps and Websites and click Edit Settings. Go to Public search and click Edit Settings. Here you can see what your public profile looks like. If you want to turn off public search, then uncheck the box.

Use the inline audience selector

With the recent changes, you can choose who sees your status updates, photos and profile by using the inline audience selector that sits right alongside each post. You can make your selection at the time you post or you can go back and make changes later.

Remember, most of the default privacy settings on Facebook are set to “Friends,” which means only your Facebook friends can see what is posted on your Wall or in your News Feed. However, you have no control over what your friends do with your posts. If you don’t want information to be seen by certain people, then don’t post it on Facebook!

Comment by Jill, posted 11/15/2011, 10:20 AM:

Our school has a first grade classroom using Facebook to communicate to the Parent's. They have a classroom page and the teacher posts work, comments, pictures. The parents comment and the teacher reads the parent comments to the class. They claim it is very secure but I'm doubtful. Is there a Facebook product that our classroom could be using that is absolutely secure? Does facebook now kind of "own" all the information on that page? Thanks!
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