People may complain about the social network day in and day out, but every year since we first all flocked to it Facebook has given its users more control over their privacy settings. The problem with this is that more control can often equal more confusion. Sure Facebook has put plenty of guides and easy steps in place to demystify privacy, but we’ve collected together four easy tips to give you a bit more control. We find that most people we talk to want to control what people can see a bit more, organise groups and share things with particular people, but they often can’t be bothered to take the first step, well now you’ve got no excuse.
1. Start with Facebook’s Privacy Checkup
If you can only be bothered to do one thing when it comes to privacy, make it running through Facebook’s quick and easy Privacy Checkup. This relatively new, but really simple feature allows anyone to take a quick look at what their privacy settings are currently set to and make any changes they’d like.
To begin head to your News Feed – or as some people like to call it, your Facebook home page. Here you’ll see a blue bar across the top and over in the top right hand corner there’s an icon that looks like a padlock with a few lines next to it. Click on that and the pop-up I’ve taken a screenshot of below will come up.
From here you can browse through three different sections, your posts, your apps and your profile. It’s basically just bringing you the Facebook settings page to you in a more basic, accessible way allowing you to toggle certain settings on and off depending on what you want people to see.
So for instance, I’ve moved my posts from “public” to “friends” (I have no idea when it flipped the other way).
To be honest if you don’t get too worried about privacy then I’d just stick with working through this checkup, it takes two minutes max and covers most of the basics.
2. Get your head around Friend Lists and how to manage them
Setting up different Lists on Facebook can take some time – especially if you’re one of these people who’s still friends with EVERYONE the came into contact with at uni, while you were travelling and every job ever. But if you set up a few you can really work to have a better grip over who sees what.
To be honest I’m pretty open about what I share online and never tend to censor stuff too much. But I know there are a lot of people who feel slightly weird about sharing stuff with their relatives and colleagues, so this is where Lists can be invaluable.
To set some up and get your head around them, head to your News Feed and on the left hand side you’ll see a section called Friends. Now chances are Facebook will have automatically set some Lists up, which you might want to tweak and work with. But let’s imagine you want to create a new one.
So click on the FRIENDS link and you’ll see a few different lists. To set up a new one hit the Create List button, give it a name and start adding people – you can always add more later so don’t worry about doing it in one go.
Now if you want to share something with only that list, you can visit it whenever you want and just update! Simple.
You can also pick and choose different lists from your Timeline/Profile too. So let’s say you’re adding a new status, now before you hit Post you need to hit the button next to it to control who can see it. This is when you can define who sees your status updates depending on what List they’re in.
It may sound a bit tricky at first, but once you’ve defined your Lists it’s so easy to select what you want to share.
3. Specify tagging and timeline settings
If you have some friends that tag you in lots of updates and photos that either you don’t want people to see or you’d just like a bit more control over, then the Timeline and Tagging Settings page is the place you need to be.
To find these settings hit the padlock in the top right hand corner of your News Feed (the one you visited for the Privacy Checkup) and scroll down to See More Settings. Timeline and Tagging Settings is then the fourth option down on the left hand side.
You’ll want to take a look at everything here and it really depends on what you want to hide and how much control you want. I tend to just let all my friends tag me in stuff, but as a bit of a control freak I also like to review things before they appear on my timeline, which is what you can see in the top box in this screenshot.
4. Beef up your security settings
Granted this is more about security than privacy, but ensuring everything looks good from a privacy point of view is a great excuse to make sure your Facebook life is 100% secure too.
To find your security settings hit the padlock in the top right hand corner of your News Feed (the one you visited for the Privacy Checkup) and scroll down to See More Settings. Once you click that link you’re taken to the standard and in-depth Facebook settings page, where you’ll see Security as the second option on the far left.
Clicking this will bring up a bunch of different settings that you can work through. There’s a lot going on here, but one I would recommend checking out is Login Approvals. It’s a small step, but what it does is just double checks with another device when you try and log into Facebook from an unknown browser. It’s a two-step authentication system that’s valuable, easy to set up and doesn’t annoy you too much when it’s you that’s logging in from another browser!
Do you have any smart tips and bright ideas for controlling your Facebook privacy? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
[Image via Josh Hallett]