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How to review your Facebook privacy settings

Facebook has a well-earned reputation for making wholesale changes to both its layout and the way users control their information. One of the biggest changes in 2011 was the overhaul of privacy settings, which Facebook unveiled in August.

The changes were so radical that Facebook felt the need to make every one of its members go through a tutorial when they first logged on after the changes were made. Even so, many Facebook members have remained confused over how best to review and make changes to their privacy settings, particularly as the options under the privacy tab seem to be far more limited than they were before.

If you want to perform a quick Facebook privacy health-check – either for yourself or for your kids – then here are a few tips on how to get started.

Start with your profile

The first thing to realize is that your main privacy settings – the ones that govern who can see your account and profile information – aren’t under Privacy Settings at all but have to be adjusted through the Edit Profile option.

  • From your home page, click on your name in the top bar or at the top of the left-hand column. Click on Edit Profile.
  • On the left side of the Edit Profile, you will see a menu of all your profile information pages, including your Basic Information, Profile Picture, Friends and Family, etc. Next to each line item on each page is a small icon with an arrow next to it. The icon represents who can currently see that piece of information.
  • In most cases the default setting is Public. (If you are under 18, Facebook defaults some of the information to Friends.) If you wish to change the setting, click on the arrow and choose between Public, Friends, Only Me or Customize. Under Customize you can choose who sees or doesn’t see that particular piece of information.
  • At any time when you are on an Edit Profile page, you can click on the View As… button to see how your profile would look to the public (i.e. someone you are not friends with). The View As page also allows you to enter a specific friend’s name to see how your profile would look to that person in the event that you choose to customize some settings.
  • Continue adjusting all your settings under Edit Profile until you are comfortable with how your profile looks to others.

Control who sees what you post

You used to be able to control the visibility of your posts through the privacy settings but Facebook changed all that. It’s now done at the time of posting using a tool that Facebook calls an “inline audience selector.” This tool allows you to select who can see and comment on posts you share. The choices are the same as on our profile settings: Public (everyone), Friends, Custom. (If you have created any lists, you will also have the option of selecting those.) When you change the setting, it will become your default setting for all future posts until you change it again.

Other privacy settings

Other privacy settings can all be accessed by clicking on the arrow at the right of the tool bar and selecting Privacy Settings. Here, you can control how you connect with people on Facebook, what happens when people tag you or your content, and what Facebook information gets shared via apps, games and websites. You can also use this page to manage people and apps that you have blocked from accessing your page or information.

See also:

5 essential Facebook privacy tips
Tips for new Facebook parents
10 things you should never post on Facebook

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