Facebook Privacy Concerns? 10 Tips To Limit Your Exposure.

Ben Hancock
Managing Director | Yellow Room Learning
22nd March 2018

This year so far has been troubling for Facebook and eye-opening for their customers as the scandal around privacy of information deepens. 

Let’s face facts, we all know that websites harvest our data to market products and services at us, however, should we expect that this data is going to be used to sway our political preposition? Maybe, maybe not, depends how much of a realist/sceptic you are! Regardless of the rights and wrongs and who is to blame etc, we also have a responsibility for our own information and data. Facebook, and other social media sites, do give us a choice to some degree to shield our information through privacy settings.

Whether or not they are effective is another matter for debate but, assuming they are, we have compiled a list of the top 10 privacy settings you should consider for your Facebook account:

  1. Who sees my posts? Your social media posts can tell a lot about you. They can provide social engineers with 'intelligence' to use when plotting a scam, or they could tell a burglar that your house is empty whilst you are on holiday, or maybe a potential employer that you have a caravan fetish!  You can choose who sees your posts, your photos, your check-ins or your status. Go to ‘Settings’ ‘Privacy’ and amend the ‘Your Activity’ section. You can adjust future posts and review previous posts. The choices here are to share with ‘Friends’ ‘Public’ or ‘Only You’.

  2. Who sees my personal information? Trying to hide an embarrassing middle name or your real age? Or maybe you have more serious concerns about information harvesting for the purpose of identity theft? Go to the ‘About’ section of your profile and you can choose to ‘Edit’ each section. There you can hide your personal information or delete it altogether.

  3. Who can send me friend requests? Fed up of getting friend requests from randoms, or do you have an ex-partner that just won't get the hint? Go to ‘Settings’ ‘Privacy’ and amend ‘Who can send me friend requests’ to either ‘Everybody’ or ‘Friends of Friends’. You can also choose to 'block' people from viewing any of your profile information or updates.

  4. Who can find me via my contact information? Facebook requires you to enter contact information when you sign up. This contact information can be used to search for you unless you instruct otherwise. Head to ‘Settings’ ‘Privacy’ and change the ‘How people can find and contact you’ for each contact method.

  5. Who can see my fiends list? It is not unusual for scammers to reach out to your friends as a way of getting to you, it sounds a bit far-fetched but it does happen! By default, everybody can see your friends list.  This can be changed though. Go to ‘Settings’ ‘Privacy’ and change the ‘Who can see your friends list’ setting.

  6. What apps can access my information? If you login to an app or a website using your Facebook account, these apps are likely harvesting or accessing your information in some way. To change this, go to ‘Settings’ ‘Apps’ and configure how the apps can access your information. If you want to remove this feature altogether you can do so by disabling the ‘Apps, Websites and Plug-ins’ option. When signing up to other websites or apps and they ask if you want to use your Facebook login or create a new one, we would recommend creating a new one as you are limiting what they have access to. If you want to go down the shared login route, review their terms and conditions, and privacy policy, to be sure what they intend to access!

  7. I don’t want this post on my timeline. You have posted a picture of your dinner, but you don’t want it on your timeline for eternity, fair enough. You can simply select ‘Hide From Timeline’ within the post options.

  8. I don’t want my profile to be searchable from Google or other search engines. To limit how exposed your profile could be it might be a good idea to head to ‘Settings’ ‘Privacy’ and edit the ‘Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile’.

  9. I want to hide my location. There may be many reasons why you want to hide your location! We ask no questions, you tell no lies! If you are using a normal web browser this is easy, simply do not tag your location. Your phone, however, may well do this by default. Go to the location settings in your phone and deselect Facebook as an app that is allowed to access them. These settings obviously change from phone to phone so refer to the manufacturer's help files if you need to.

  10. I want my profile to be completely private. You have a profile which you have years of photos saved to, and friends that you no longer know how to contact via any other means. You want to keep your account but you do not want it to be visible in the search feacility. Sorry, this is not possible! Whilst you can restrict who sees your information, you cannot be removed from the search facility. If privacy is a very big concern to you perhaps you should consider deleting your account.

Want more privacy options? There are many other security and privacy settings that might be useful for you to explore. We would encourage you to look at all of these and configure them to suit your appetite for privacy. Don’t forget to do these for other social media platforms too! One last point, these platforms change their privacy policies and settings every now and again, so it is worth checking your preferences every few weeks. With recent events hitting the news it is likely that there will be some wholesale changes soon, so keep your eyes peeled!  

Thanks for reading Facebook Privacy Concerns? 10 Tips To Limit Your Exposure.  For more information on privacy or information security, contact Yellow Room Learning today on 0800 292 2900.

Follow us on LinkedIn where we regularly discuss security and privacy issues.  About Yellow Room Learning Yellow Room Learning is a leading provider of information security awareness training.  Our team can help your business by training staff to have better information and cyber security awareness.  Contact us today to learn more! 

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