July 14, 2010

Protect Your Private Info On Facebook

Heads up! Facebook has quietly implemented another panic-inducing privacy change. Whether you want them to or not, everyone you allow to see your status updates can also see (and share) your phone number.

While many people have locked down their privacy settings so that only close friends and family can view their information, there are still a vast number of people whose Facebook updates and information are open for public viewing. Follow this easy tutorial to ensure you only share the information you're comfortable with everyone knowing:

Step 1: Launch Facebook. On the far right side of the navigation bar across the top, you'll see "Account." Click on it to see the drop-down menu. Then select "Privacy Settings."

Step 2: In the "Sharing on Facebook" section of the "Choose Your Privacy Settings" page, select the level of privacy you are comfortable with.
  • "Everyone" will allow anyone in the whole wide world to view the contents of your page. 
  • "Friends of Friends" will allow your friends' friends to view some of your content (such as your statuses, photos, and bio) without having to friend you. 
  • "Friends Only" will force people to friend you in order to view your information.

Once you select the level of privacy you want, click the "Apply These Settings" button at the bottom of the "Sharing on Facebook" box.

Our suggestion: "Friends Only" is the best way to go. You can then control who sees your data and eliminate the general concerns many people have about Facebook. For instance, if only your friends can see your data, then you are probably safe announcing that you'll be on vacation at the beach all weekend without worrying about being robbed. (Unless you have really bad friends!)

Step 3: To protect your phone number (no matter which level of privacy you choose), click on "Customize settings" at the bottom of the "Sharing on Facebook" box.

Step 4: Once on the "Customize Settings" page, scroll down to the "Contact Information" section. Click on the drop-down menu for "Mobile Phone" and select the level of privacy you want. If you aren't comfortable with your friends having access to your number (or your Facebook "friends" are different from your real-life friends), select "Customize."

Step 5: In the "Custom Privacy" dialogue box that pops up, click on the "Make this visible to" drop-down menu and select "Only Me." Then click "Save Setting." Do this for each element of your contact information.

That's it! You've effectively hidden your private information from those who you fear won't use it wisely. Oh, and for the record, we suggest you only friend people you really know -- even if you think it might hurt someone's feelings. Facebook can be a very safe place if you make it that way.

For those curious about their friends' phone numbers, you can view them by clicking on "Account" and selecting "Edit Friends." On the left side of your screen, click "Phonebook." All the numbers are right there for your viewing pleasure. Happy dialing. ;)


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