September 30, 2011

With the increasingly “open” timeline and sharing features Facebook has recently updated, many users are finding that their sense of privacy on the site is slipping away.

As much as Facebook is a social sharing site, which is specifically designed to allow users to share comments, photos and links with their online friends, you do have to question whether it is really necessary for your entire life story – with to-the-minute updates on everything you do – to be posted out to every Tom, Dick and Harry on the site.   

People can see everything you read, listen to and watch as many apps you have will be linked up to your Facebook and will post updates to the site automatically – unless you have bothered to turn this feature off.

The default timeline now shows people what (sometimes slightly cringe-worthy) status you had on your wall this time last year, alongside photos of fashion malfunctions which you would rather had stayed hidden somewhere deep in an old album and now-awkward lovey dovey comments from THAT ex who you have since been trying to forget.  

So, how can you impose more privacy on your Facebook page and avoid some of these “Did I really say that in public?” moments? Here are some options to help you bump up the privacy settings on the site.

Be aware of what Apps have access to your Facebook

When you download an app it will ask you if want it to automatically update your Facebook page with its news. Think carefully about this as you need to be sure that you really don’t mind people seeing your posts from this app; as if you have secretly been playing Farmville on the bus of a morning, this may not be quite so secret once you’ve given that app access to your Facebook page. 

If you do decide to give an app access to post on your Facebook wall then you may want to control who sees your activity from this app. You can select the people who this post is visible to by clicking the “This activity is visible to:” icon and making your selections from there. From here you can chose if the post goes Public to everyone, just to your Friends or a specific Friend List. By selecting the “Custom” option you can even block certain people from seeing your activity, and you can make it so that the post only appears to you.

Apps no longer need to ask your permission to share each individual post, however, and most apps will only ask you the first time that they try to connect and then will just automatically update whether you want them to or not. If you access that individual app “Settings” page you can update this feature from there.

The Facebook Timeline

If you don’t want the world and it’s missus to see all of your old status updates, bad hair styles and cringey comments from the minute you first joined Facebook, you need to alter the Timeline settings on the site.

 You can delete individual stories for you Timeline by selecting the drop-down menu and choosing the “Hide from Timeline” option. To restrict the visibility of your entire Timeline, you need to go to your privacy setting page and use the “Limit the Audience” options for past and current posts. 

Build Safe Lists

There’s one final feature to consider which could save you a lot of hassle, especially when it includes the likes of work colleagues or your parents. These could be two groups of people to whom pictures of boozy nights out and any other slightly embarrassing content should be kept away from at all cost – for the sake of your sanity more than anything else.

By creating groups of people from certain areas of your life – such as work colleagues or family members – you can stop them from viewing certain content on your Facebook, and keep new updates hidden from them as well.

Go to the homepage and select the “Lists” option located next to the News Feed. From there you can create a list of people who you want to keep away from certain content simply by adding them to a safe list. Problem solved.

As great as the new Facebook is, some people just won’t be happy with sharing everything in their lives all over the site so hopefully these few tips will help eradicate some of the privacy issues some of you may be having.



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