Facebook and privacy are a pair of words that keep popping up together, sort of like how you hear about the affairs of dysfunctional celebrity couples who you and the rest of the world know are a terrible match for each other.
But with Facebook frequently changing the rules about how public your various details on there are, it’s important to keep up and be aware of how you can pare things back so that you have complete (well, by Facebook standards) control of your privacy. Here are five tips to make that happen.
1. Make All Your Past Posts Private
Bit of a tongue-twister this one, but easy enough to do. If you feel like you’ve overshared anything you’ve written in the past or simply are a little embarrassed of your past self (I’d rather not have everyone know what I was like at the age of 18, for example), then you can make your old posts private.
To do this, click the Settings dropdown icon at the top right of Facebook -> Settings -> Privacy, then click “Limit Past Posts.” Click “Limit Old Posts” to confirm, then Facebook will warn you that you won’t be able to make all your old posts public again in just one click. (You’ll need to do each one individually.) If you’re happy with this, click “Confirm.”
While you’re here, you can also make the visibility of all your future posts limited to just your friends (or even yourself, if you so wish!). Just click “Who can see your future posts?” and select the option you want.
2. Check All Apps Connected to Facebook
Over the years, I’ve thoughtlessly allowed plenty of apps to communicate with my Facebook information. Sometimes they’re websites that offer to link with my Facebook page instead of me going through the hassle of creating a new account; other times I don’t even remember why I connected Facebook to them in the first place.
To bring all this under control, go to “Settings” on Facebook, click Apps in the column on the left, and you’ll see all the apps that Facebook’s linked to. Hover your mouse over the ones you want to remove, then click the small cross that appears to get rid of them.
Alternatively, you can change the individual bits of info apps have access to by clicking the pencil icon when you hover over them.
3. Hide Yourself from Google Search
Did you know that your Facebook profile can easily be found by searching on Google? There are plenty of reasons why you may not want to have your name appearing in the world’s biggest search engine, and there’s an easy way to stop it from happening. Just go to Facebook Settings -> Privacy, then select “No” under “Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?”
4. Ask for Confirmation to Be Tagged
There are few things worse on Facebook than logging in, clicking that little red notification icon, then seeing that fifteen pictures of you from Glastonbury Festival have just been uploaded, or ten pictures of you from ten years ago have just popped up courtesy of your so-called friend. It’s important to keep control of your Facebook image, right?
To review all posts and pictures that you’re tagged in before they “go public,” go to Facebook Settings -> Timeline and Tagging, then click “Review tags people add to your own posts…” Next, click Disabled in the drop-down and then click Enabled.
5. See Your Profile as Someone Else
So you’ve privatised your Facebook account and now want to see what it actually looks like when a friend of yours – or a complete stranger – goes to look at your profile. Well, you can do that!
Go to your Facebook profile page (the one with your photo, timeline and so on), then at the top-right click the three-dotted icon next to “View Activity Log.” Click View As, then using the black bar at the top of the page, you can choose whether you want to view your profile as a member of the public or as a specific person.
Facebook can be a nightmare of privacy scares and anxiety for those of us with even a tiny modicum of self-consciousness. That feeling of not knowing which person or company is browsing through your personal information isn’t a pleasant one, but with these tips most of your fears should be alleviated!