Control Your Facebook Privacy Settings

In our previous post, Facebook Events and Notes, we continued our series on Facebook by discussing a few of the unique features of Facebook and why they are important.

In this post, we go in depth into the various privacy settings on Facebook and how to control them.

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Control Your Privacy Settings

Historically, changing your privacy defaults on Facebook could be a challenge. After years of member complaints, Facebook recently made it a lot easier to manage some of these settings. There’s now a button on the top bar to the right of the Home button that looks like a lock. Click it and you see:

Facebook new privacy settings main menu

Facebook new privacy settings main menu

Using these three sections, you can  change the default privacy settings, which in most cases are to share with everyone, including non-members. Select “Who can see my stuff?” to control who can see your future posts, find out how to review posts and where you may be tagged, and control what people can see on your timeline.

Select “Who can contact me” to control whether non-friends can send you messages and whether non-friends can send you friend requests.

Select “How do I stop someone from bothering me?” to block obnoxious users.

This is all pretty simple, but it’s just the tip of the privacy iceberg. Select “See More Settings” to get into the nitty gritty of Facebook privacy settings. You see:

Facebook more privacy settings

Facebook more privacy settings

You’ll want to especially check out the Apps section where you can control how apps access your information. You may be surprised to find out that people using apps can see lots of your information. Here’s Facebook’s explanation:

People on Facebook who can see your info can bring it with them when they use apps. This makes their experience better and more social. Use the settings below to control the categories of information that people can bring with them when they use apps, games and websites.

Did you imagine that by inviting a friend to use a Facebook app lots of information about you and the friend would be available to the app creator? We recommend restricting this information, even though doing so may affect your ability to use an app.

We suggest that you seriously think about exposing relationship, religious and politicial and activities and interests information. Recent research has shown that people can determine many intimate details of your life through your Facebook information. Researchers developed a system that was “88% accurate for determining male sexuality, 95% accurate in determining African-American from Caucasian, and 85% accurate in differentiating Republican from Democrat. The system was also able to classify whether a person was a Christian or Muslim 82% of the time. Interestingly, the system was able to detect substance abuse about 73% of the time.”

While Facebook should be praised for making these settings more visible, other settings are more obscure. For example, to turn off the setting controlling who can see your location information, you need to know to go to To control your privacy in the upcoming Facebook Graph Search, you have to know to go to

We suggest you periodically Google “Facebook privacy settings” to stay up to date on the latest ways you can control your Facebook information. You can also click the little magnifying glass icon on the privacy settings menu to search for specific settings. For example, searching for “check in” shows the following:

Facebook privacy search box

Facebook privacy search box

Since Facebook is constantly changing how your information is shared, we recommend you visit your privacy settings on a regular basis.

Next up: Join Facebook Groups

Control Your Facebook Privacy Settings is the 129th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’re just past page 345. At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

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