9 ways to manage your Facebook privacy

By Marilynn McLachlan

Image / Thinkstock
Image / Thinkstock

"You go about your life unaware
Of the Digital Shadow you cast.
You are not an individual
You are a data cluster_
Algorithms can predict your interests,
Your desires, even your fantasies_
Your life is measured in gigabytes.
Data comes at a cost_"

So says the creepy marketing campaign for the upcoming video game "Watch Dogs".

A promotional site for the game, Digital Shadow, has been launched that allows users to login with their Facebook account and then have their profile scoured to create a digital profile - including your mental state, your most likely passwords, who you stalk, how much money you make and more.

While it is only able to access information that is set to public, it is a timely - though rather disturbing - reminder to check that privacy settings and Facebook habits are being viewed only by the intended audience.

Here are 10 privacy settings and ideas to make sure that you are aware of what information you are sharing.

1. There are four privacy tiers

Facebook allows:
- Everyone: This means anyone on the Internet
- Friends: Only your Facebook friends
- Friends of friends: Your Facebook friends AND all their friends
- Custom: Enables selecting of audience based on lists and individual people.

2. Create lists to be more selective about audience

Want to share your great night out with your friends but not your grandmother? Or perhaps you want to post those endless food photos to only your foodie friends? Create a list so you can select who your audience will be. You can create as many lists as you like.

- Go to your newsfeed and find Friends
- Hover to the right of the word Friends and click MORE
- Click on Create List
- Give your list a name
- Type in the name of friends you would like to add to the list
- If you forget a name or want to edit the list, click on it on the left hand side newsfeed and click on Edit List

3. Choose an audience before posting a status or photo

Before clicking the Post tab, use the audience dropdown menu to the left of the blue button. This will allow any of the privacy tiers in number one - or you can create an entirely new one for an individual post.

If most of your posts are going to be to the same audience:

- Click on the arrow in the top right hand side of your screen
- Click on Settings
- Click on Privacy
- Look at Who can see your future posts? and edit accordingly.
- If you are concerned about your past posts, edit the Limit the audience for posts you've shared with friends of friends or Public - once you do this, it cannot be undone.

4. Be aware of posts you like or comment on

Some people are quite happy to share their photos and thoughts with everyone on the Internet but be aware that if you comment or like their posts then your response is also public.

If there is a small, grey world next to a person's post, then it is public. If you're a celebrity and keen to interact with a large group of 'friends', then consider turning your Facebook profile into a Facebook page.

5. Customise who can post on and view your timeline

If you're worried a friend may post something embarrassing on your timeline then:

- Click on the small lock at the top right hand side of your screen
- In the drop down menu, click See more settings
- Click on Timeline and Tagging in the left hand menu
- Edit the Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline?

You can also edit who can see posts on your timeline and who an see posts you've been tagged in on your timeline in the same area.

6. Decide who can search for you

Your email address, phone number and search engines are all ways that people can access your public profile. To check who can look you up:

- Go to your Privacy settings
- View Who can look me up
- Edit accordingly

Note that if you allow search engines to link to your timeline, they can link to any publically shared information including comments and likes that you make on public posts and pages.

7. Make sure you approve posts that mention you before you're tagged

Similar to number five above, people can tag you in posts that you're not happy with. To ensure that these posts don't go into your friends' newsfeeds and on your timeline:

- Go to your Privacy settings
- Click on Timeline and Tagging
- View How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions and edit accordingly.

8. Check your personal profile information

Some information is always public - such as your profile photo and cover photo, gender and networks but you can select the audience for information such as your work, education.

- Go to your profile page
- Click on About
- Click the Edit button next to Work and Education
- Edit audience to one of the tiers that you're happy with.
- Scroll down the page and edit who can see what you like in music, films, sports teams, TV shows, books and likes.

9. Edit what your friends can share about you

Apps are popular on Facebook, and when a friend authorises an app then it can sometimes take your information along with your friends. Ensure this doesn't happen by:

- Go to Settings
- Click on Apps
- Review any apps you have used and delete if needed
- Click on Apps others use
- Uncheck each of the pieces of information you'd rather not share.

- nzherald.co.nz

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