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Tech Tips – How to set up basic Facebook privacy controls

If you logged on to Facebook in the last couple of weeks, you will have been asked to review and sign-off on various privacy settings. This all relates to Facebook's recent security overhaul and the deals that it has struck with the major search engines.   

If you took the time to review your settings, or if you defaulted to your old settings, then you are probably comfortable with how much information is publicly available. But if you skipped over the update or just clicked "Save" in response to Facebook's default settings, then you may be giving away a lot more information than you planned.

Despite the apparent complexity of the Facebook account settings, the number of adjustments required to achieve an effective level of privacy are relatively few. Here are five recommendations on privacy and how to put them in place:

  1. Some information is always going to be public
    Everyone is going to be able to see your name, your profile photo, the names of work and school networks you are a part of, and your fan pages. If you don't want people to see that you are a member of a political group or some quirky organization, then don't join that network. There is no way to ask Facebook to hide it.
    Your gender and current city can also be publicly listed. If you don't want that, then uncheck "Show my sex in my profile" when you edit your profile and leave your city blank.
  2. Hide your Friend list
    Facebook considers your Friend list to be public information. However, privacy advocates claim that Friend lists can reveal important personal information – even sexual orientation or political leanings according to one study. If you don't want outsiders to see your list of Friends, it's easy to hide it. Go to your Profile page, click on the little pencil icon next to Friends and uncheck the box that says "Show Friend List to everyone".  Your Friend list will still be visible to you and your friends.
  3. Hide yourself from web searches
    Facebook has recently struck deals to make their pages available to the major search engines. That means the information that Facebook deems to be public (photo, fan pages, etc.), plus anything you have made available to everyone, could show up if someone searches for you on Google. If you don't want this to happen, choose Privacy Settings from the Settings dropdown menu in the top right corner of your page. Click on Search and make sure the Allow box is unchecked.
  4. Create custom Friend lists
    The average Facebook member has 130 friends on their Friend list, consisting of close friends, not-so-close friends, casual acquaintances, relatives, work colleagues, old college buddies…and maybe one or two people we're not sure we've ever even met! Unlike in real life, Facebook encourages us to treat all friends equally, sharing our holiday photos, our everyday ups and downs, and even our innermost secrets!
    It doesn't have to be that way. In Facebook, you can create custom Friend lists and share only the information you want to share with each individual group.  Click on Friends at the top of the page and select All Friends. Click on Create New List, give the list a name and add only the friends you want to be on that particular list. You can create as many lists as you want. Those Friend lists will then appear on the left under News Feed. Only want to share updates with certain people? Click on the appropriate list and fire away.
  5. Beware of third-party applications
    Quizzes and games are fun but every time you participate or download an application, you are authorizing access to your personal information, even if you have only made it available to your friends. Under Settings choose Application Settings. You can review all the apps that you have opened up and remove the ones you no longer want.
    By clicking on Applications and Websites on the Privacy Settings page, you can edit whether friends can share your birthday, photos and other specific information.  Remember that applications will always be able to access your publicly available information. 

Comment by dc agrawal, posted 9/14/2010, 9:30 PM:

really very good tips those who are new as internet users.
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