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In an effort to compete with websites like Twitter, Facebook has started a push to encourage more users to publish content publicly. However, they still have settings to respect each user's desire for privacy.
Yesterday, we tackled the simple step of dividing your Facebook friends into lists. Today, we really put those lists to good use by determining what information each group will get to see about you.
Essentially, each privacy setting in Facebook can be customized to include (or rather, exclude) specific groups you've created.
To get started, scroll over the Settings tab in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook page and then select "Privacy Settings" from the drop-down menu. The first section, “Profile Information,” is a good place to start, since it includes most of the info you'll want to assign to friend lists.
Your privacy option for each of these sections include Everyone, Friends and Network, Friends of Friends, Only Friends, and Customize. You'll probably want to use Customize, since it lets you set large-scale filters (ie, Friends-only) and then further refine it by saying which friends or lists should be restricted.
- About Me and Personal Info: These include all boxes under the Personal Information heading in your profile: Interests, Activities, Favorites, and About Me. You openness about these tidbits probably depends on how you spend your free time and whether you'd want clients or bosses to know about it.
- Birthday, Religious & Political Views, Family and Relationship: All housed under the Basic Information section of your Info Tab. Facebook clumps family members, "interested in," relationship status and "looking for" together. So if you want strangers to know you're into dudes but not that you have a boyfriend, then you're outta luck.
- Education and Work Info: The very last field in the Info Tab. You may want this public to make it easier for coworkers and clients to find you by searching for your employer. On the other hand, you may not want your stalker to know where you work. Tough call.
- Photos and Videos of Me: These are important ones.They determine who will see pictures and videos where people have tagged you, usually because you're in them. What that means is, you can't control where you're tagged or what the photos and video will show. Because of that, you might want to limit these categories to close friends. Blocking these from some friends or everyone will take them out of your Photos Tab and the listing under your profile picture. Please note though, these settings do not apply to albums you upload.
- Photo Albums: This section has its own Edit Settings button so each album can be assigned to specific friend lists.
- Posts by Me: Sets your default for Status Updates, Links, Notes, Photos, and Videos you post. If you're using Facebook as a Rolodex of sorts for some casual acquaintances, you might want to bar them from seeing these updates.
- Allow Friends to Post to My Wall: This is a general setting across all friends no matter groups. To have a wall or not to have a wall, that is the question.
- Posts by Friends: It's probably smart to limit this category to "Only Friends" instead of "Friends of Friends" or "Everyone." That way, your friends can write on your wall without having to worry about their own privacy. On a related note, you can also restrict bosses, professors, etc., from seeing what your friends are writing.
- Comment on Posts: And to further the wall confusion.... you've already decided whether to have a wall, who can see your posts, and who can post. Now you get to decide who can comment on posts. Because comments from Mom are always the best ones on Lamebook.
Don't forget to go back and set privacy on specific photo albums you've uploaded in recent years. Just can’t part with that album from your dorm kegger freshman year? Odds are you don’t want your boss complimenting your funneling technique, so be sure to set which groups should be able to see each one.
So you've read to here and decided that you just don't publish content frequently enough or offensive enough to warrant using all those darn groups I made you make. But some day you may want to publish just one status update or one album, but restrict it to certain friends. Facebook is ready to accommodate you for that moment.
Each album, status, or post of any kind has individual privacy setting options. Simply click on the lock icon below the status or album publisher and select your level of privacy. This is also great so that once you get your content secured to your liking, you can easily set your privacy for future posts in snap.
Back to your Privacy Settings, once you're satisfied with your profile content, go back to the Privacy homepage and select Contact Information. If you’ve shared openly with your profile Information, you may want to consider being a bit more private here. Facebook gives you the option of sharing home address and phone numbers with everyone but that doesn’t mean you should. In general, these are best shared with a trusted group or not at all. Past this, Contact Information houses who can add you as a friend from your search results. There are only two options, "Everyone" or "Friends of Friends.
If you’re a social media hermit and want to be invisible to members outside your friends, you’ll have to go through the Search section under the Privacy Settings menu and select “Only Friends” from the drop-down menu. Side Note: this is also the home of your public search listing (i.e.- whether or not people can find a link to your facebook through Google, more on this when we discuss Universal Listings soon).
Once you’ve finished, select the “Preview My Profile” button in the right hand corner and check how individuals or members of groups will view your profile. And most importantly, always remember that Facebook is not flawless and you shouldn’t post anything that could be damning to your personal life or reputation. Unless it's really, really funny.Estimated time needed: 30-45 minutes.
Benefits: Improved privacy and security in Facebook.