The full guide to Facebook security settings is now available for download Making the Most Out of Facebook’s Privacy Settings.
The first part of this series can be found here, and part two here.
Lists – Control privacy when you post
Use the Facebook lists feature to divide your friends into lists. This is a great feature for protecting your privacy because it allows you to select an individual audience for each one of your status updates or wall posts, be aware though it is not possible to individualise the audience for your “Likes”.
Facebook offers three default lists; Close Friends, Acquaintances and Restricted. Dividing friends between “Close friends” and “Acquaintances” will influence how much or how little they show up in your news feed. Adding a friend to the “Restricted” list means they will only be able to see content that you make “Public”. Facebook has also introduced the concept of Smart Lists, these could be related to where you live, where you work, or where you went to school for example.
If you add a friend to any of the “Close Friends”, “Acquaintances” or “Restricted” lists, they will not be informed. However, be aware that if you add a friend to a Smart List that is related to a place of work or college for example, they will receive a notification that you have done so and will be able to approve that information for posting to their own timeline. You can also create custom lists and again your friends will not be notified if they are added to these lists. It is worth noting that when you share content with a specific list of friends, your friends will not see the name of the list you have shared it with, but they will see that you have chosen a restricted audience for your post and they will be able to see every individual name in that group.
Subscriptions is a new Facebook feature that allows you to follow the public activity of people on Facebook, without having to add them as a friend. Of course this means that the possibility exists for people to follow your content, without you having accepted them as a friend as well. It’s one more reason to tightly control your privacy on Facebook. For example, default behaviour on Facebook if you defriend someone is that they will remain subscribed to you and able to see any public content and perhaps content that is shared by mutual friends too, unless you do something about it. If you want to enable or disable the permission for other users to subscribe to your content, go to your timeline and click the arrow to expand the view of your “favourites boxes”. You will see the subscriptions box, click the box and you will be able either to click the “Allow subscribers” box or, more advisedly a “Settings” button where you will be able to turn it off.
Any “Public” event you have responded to will feature on your timeline and will be shared with the public, meaning that anyone viewing your Facebook profile will be able to see these events. To hide these events from your timeline, view your timeline, click “View Activity” and select “Events” from the activity type drop down menu that appears on the right. You may then hide any events you wish from being displayed on your timeline.
Check yourself out!
If you want to check how the changes you have made have affected the information you share you can view your own timeline as another Facebook user would see it, or as it is visible to the general public. To do this, select the downward pointing arrow just to the right of “View Activity”, select “View As…” and type the name of the friend whose view of your profile you wish to preview, or click the “public” link. This is a great way of identifying those last few pesky events, photos, videos or stories that may still be publicly visible. You can then find each unique event in your Activity Log and refine the audience to whom it is visible or remove it entirely from your timeline.
Five rules to remember…
- 1. If you post on someone’s wall then you cannot control the privacy of your post . The visibility of the comment is defined by the original post which may be less restricitve than you want, for example, “Friends of Friends”.
- 2. If you restrict the audience of a post in order that certain friends cannot see it that restriction should not be considered final. If someone later posts a comment that tags a Facebook user who was not a part of the original audience, then the entire thread and original post will be visible to that person. Be careful what you post.
- 3. If you post on, or respond to an invitation to a public event or a public page; you cannot control the privacy of your post. You can only hide it from your timeline after the post has been made.
- 4. If you post on a friends wall where their privacy setting is “friends of friends”, then any of your friends who are on your Restricted list will be able to see that post, because they are your friends.
- 5. This means that anything you post which is “Public” or “Friends of friends” (either by your own settings or those of the recipient) may show up in the ticker of people you do not necessarily know, have restricted or have defriended.