7 Facebook privacy settings that require your attention

Facebook’s privacy settings are complicated by design. Individual settings are scattered across several different pages and the underlying topics and associated privacy options can be bewildering. While some of the privacy issues are relatively minor – for example, restricting who can send you friend requests – others are more important. The problem is how do we know which ones to ignore and which ones need our immediate attention?

While each Facebook member’s privacy settings will be a matter of personal preference, we’ve put together a list of 7 issues that we think you should take a look at if you haven’t done so already. Even if you are comfortable with the default settings for your own account, you may want to review them with your kids if they have Facebook accounts of their own.

1. Review posts you are tagged in before they appear on your Timeline

Did you know that Facebook gives you the opportunity to review posts and photos that you have been tagged in before they appear on your Timeline? This can save you the embarrassment of teachers, work colleagues or your mom seeing embarrassing posts or pictures of you on your Timeline before you get a chance to delete them.

  • Click on the wheel in the top right-hand corner of any page and go to Privacy Settings
  • Click on Timeline and Tagging in the left-hand column
  • Under Who can add things to my timeline? scroll to Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline?
  • Click on Edit, change the setting to Enabled and click on Close

This won’t stop tagged pictures or posts appearing elsewhere on Facebook but at least it will give you a chance to approve them before they appear on your own Timeline.

2. Review tags friends add to your posts

If you have added a photo but have been careful not to tag certain people, then the last thing you need is for one of your friends to come along and add a tag for you. Facebook allows you to review those tags before they get added to your posts.

  • Go to Privacy Settings (see above)
  • Click on Timeline and Tagging in the left-hand column
  • Under How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions? scroll to Review tags friends add to your own posts before the tags appear on Facebook?
  • Click on Edit, change the setting to Enabled and click on Close

Remember, it’s always best to get permission before you tag someone in a photo, particularly if the photo is potentially embarrassing.

3. Turn off face recognition

Using face recognition technology, Facebook automatically suggests adding a tag when a photo that looks like you is uploaded. If you don’t want your name to be suggested, then you can turn auto tag suggestion off.

  • Go to Privacy Settings (see above)
  • Click on Timeline and Tagging in the left-hand column
  • Under How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions? scroll to Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?
  • Click on Edit, change the setting to No One and click on Close

4. Restrict how much of your information is captured by apps

Most of us know that using certain apps on Facebook exposes our personal information to app developers and other third parties. However, it’s less well-known that our personal data is also potentially exposed when our friends use apps. Facebook allows you to restrict how much of your information your friends bring with them when they use these apps.

  • Go to Privacy Settings (see above)
  • Click on Apps in the left-hand column
  • Under Apps others use click on Edit and make sure every box is unchecked
  • Click on Save Changes

5. Hide your Facebook profile from public search

You can hide your Facebook account (or your child’s account) so it won’t be found when people use a public search engine.

  • Go to Privacy Settings (see above)
  • Click on Privacy in the left-hand column
  • Under Who can look me up? scroll to Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?
  • Click on Edit, uncheck the box and click on Close

6. Restrict Facebook’s ability to use your name in third-party advertising

Facebook’s doesn’t currently allow third-party advertisers or ad networks to use your name or likeness in ads. However, Facebook offers a privacy option for preempting use of your information in this way in the future and it’s highly recommended you take advantage of it.

  • Go to Privacy Settings (see above)
  • Click on Ads in the left-hand column
  • Under Third Party Sites click on Edit, and change the setting to No One
  • Click on Save Changes

7. Restrict Facebook’s ability to use your name in social ads

Similarly, Facebook can use your name and likeness in what they call ‘social ads,’ which show an advertising message alongside certain actions you have taken within the Facebook ecosystem such as Liking a page or product. Again, if you don’t want to be used in such advertising you can turn the option off.

  • Go to Privacy Settings (see above)
  • Click on Ads in the left-hand column
  • Under Ads & Friends click on Edit
  • Next to Pair my social actions with ads for change the setting to No one
  • Click on Save Changes

As mentioned above, this is just a small selection of Facebook’s privacy settings. Take the time to familiarize yourself with all the relevant options, so you are comfortable with how your information is being used. And keep in mind that Facebook’s privacy settings change frequently, so make sure you go back and repeat the review at least once every couple of months.


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