Facebook’s privacy rollback is especially terrible because it’s so hard to reverse. Settings are so bewildering that even CEO Mark Zuckerberg has fiddled his two-to-three times this month. So here’s a guide to re-privatizing your profile.
Ideally, we’d all be allowed to just accept Facebook’s recommended settings. But the social network is defaulting most people to share their private content widely with strangers, in an obvious bid to grow traffic and to compete more directly with Twitter. Then there’s the content the company is trying to take from you and make entirely public.
And, to borrow a phrase, what can’t be attributed to Facebook’s greed can be chalked up to ineptitude. Highly complex privacy schemes are bound to fail, as others have written, because most users don’t have the patience to sit and learn intricate details of various options. That would seemingly include Facebook co-founder Zuckerberg, who initially accepted the default options, according to published reports. But he soon altered these defaults to make them more private, hiding his photos from friends of friends.
If the CEO of Facebook is changing his default privacy settings, shouldn’t you? Here are some things you can do (click any image to enlarge):
Hide your photos.
Most people don’t seem to realise their profile photos and other albums are available to strangers. The profile photos are usually shared more widely, e.g. to “Everyone,” while the photo albums are often only slightly more restricted, e.g. “Friends of Friends.”
From your Facebook home page, go to the Settings menu in the upper right corner, and select “Privacy Settings.” Then select “Profile Information.” Then scroll down to Photo Albums and click “Edit Settings”…
…and adjust to the level of privacy you are comfortable with (“Only Friends” was probably your setup before):
Hide other people’s photos of you
If someone “tags” one of their Facebook photos with your profile, it can show up on your profile. If you don’t want strangers (including “Friends of friends”) to see these often candid shots, go to Settings/Privacy Settings, then “Profile Information” and adjust “Photos and Videos of me.” We’d recommend “Only friends:”
Hide your birthday
It’s insane that Facebook recommended that many people share their birthday with “Friends of friends” in its defaults for the new “privacy” scheme. This personal information can be used by financial fraudsters to help impersonate you to your bank, credit card company, email provider and others. We’d recommend showing it to as few people as possible. Or, even better, set it to a false date.
Under Settings/Privacy Settings/Profile Information:
Hide your posts
Facebook is defaulting people to share their posts with “friends of friends,” i.e. strangers. You may want to revert this to share only with your friends. Under Settings/Privacy Settings/Profile Information:
Remove your friends list from your profile page
In any case, it’s definitely possible to make your friends list harder for strangers to view, by removing it from your profile. Go to your Facebook home page, then click on “Profile” in the top right corner to view your profile.
Then scroll down to the section of the profile that shows your friends (titled “Friends”), and click the pencil symbol in the upper left corner. This will reveal a checkbox to hide your friend list from some strangers, at least on your profile page:
Hide your profile from search engines
Facebook is touchy about this one, because it’s always displayed some data for search engines, by default, and suddenly people are noticing. That’s why when you go to change your settings under Settings/Privacy Settings/Search, Facebook now pops up this ultra-defensive dialog:
What Facebook doesn’t tell you is that it now offers a link to “View Such and Such’s Friends” from the public, search-engine-indexable profile page. At least, that’s what ours does. At the very least, you should look at your search engine page using the preview link under “Public Search Results” and see if you want to continue to make it available:
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