Facebook privacy issues: What can you do?

It seems as though every few months concerns are raised that new changes are causing Facebook to have more and more privacy issues. So what can you do to avoid the dangers?

Woman on the computer

Every time Facebook changes its settings, a new concern rises that more of everyone’s personal information may be available to others. And although it certainly is true that aspects of privacy are lost in creating a Facebook account, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Be selective about what you put up

When Facebook first emerged, there was very little understanding of what the hazards of social media were. People would put up just about anything because no one knew how easily it could wind up in someone else’s hands. Fortunately the website has been around for enough time now that the ability to carefully select what you put out there is well within your reach.

Before you put anything up, ask yourself if you’re comfortable with anyone coming across it. If your boss or child or client or mother-in-law or boyfriend were to see a certain photo or comment, would you feel OK about it? If so, post away! If not, reconsider. Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do about what is posted by others, other than untagging yourself if you feel the need or asking that person to take it down if that’s what you’d prefer. But as far as the content you put up, it’s all up to you!

Keep it professional

Some people enjoy the status of having as many friends as possible and are eager to add just about anyone they meet. But if you’re more interested in keeping a professional appearance than in numbers, that probably isn’t the best approach for you. Instead, give yourself time to get to know someone before adding them, and don’t feel as though you have to rush to accept the request of someone you’ve just met. Friendships take time to build in the real world, and it’s OK for some of that to roll over into the Facebook world. And if you really want to keep things professional, consider creating two accounts — one for fun posts and your favourite pictures, the other for business acquaintances you want to keep a professional appearance for.

Don’t use Facebook for everything

Today many new technological advances such as apps can connect whatever you are doing. For instance, running apps can let your Facebook friends know where you went and for how long you ran today. And mapping programs such as Foursquare can make everyone aware of where you tend to go. If you don’t want these types of details reaching your Facebook page, make sure when you set up the app to select the option that allows you to decline to have information transferred to Facebook when requested.

Customize your privacy settings

If you decide you want to change what information of yours people can view, it’s as simple as going to the “Privacy Settings” section, located at the top right section of the screen when you’re logged in to Facebook. In the “How You Connect” section, you can control whether just friends, friends of friends or everyone can send you a friend request, message you and search you by email address and phone number. Then in the “Timeline and Tagging” section, you can control who can post on your timeline, who can see your timeline and who can see posts you’re tagged in. You can select for it be as narrow as only you who is allowed to see these posts, or as broad as allowing everyone on Facebook be able to see them. In the “Ads, Apps and Websites” section, you can control what of your Facebook profile appears in a public search, as well as which apps have access to your page.

Undeniably, many aspects of Facebook limit your privacy — the very concept of creating an online profile does that already. But there are ways to ensure the information you wish to remain personal stays that way.

More on Facebook

Be a good friend on Facebook
Why you shouldn’t be Facebook friends with your partner
Is technology damaging our friendships?

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