Well, in the first place I never ever had even thought about posting an article on Facebook on my blog. Never. But, I am really frustrated, just like everybody else, by the frequent status updates from my facebook contacts pleading (and even ‘threatening’ towards the end!) to protect their privacy on facebook. These frequent posts were enough to prick on my nerves. So, I thought I want to say my part of this story to the world and at least stop one or two from re-posting those stupid messages.

The message goes like this (there are a number of versions in circulation since facebook implemented ‘Graph Search’):

Kind Attention : All of you who are on my list of contacts of Facebook. I would like to ask you a favor…. Given that Facebook has changed its privacy configuration once again. With the new “Graphic app”, any person in Facebook anywhere in the world can see our photos, our “likes” and our “comments”. During the next two weeks, I am going to keep this message posted and I ask you to do the following and comment “DONE”. Those of my friends who do not maintain my information in private will be eliminated from my list of friends, because I want the information I share with you, my friends, to remain among my friends and not be available to the whole world. I want to be able to publish photos of my friends and family without strangers being able to see them which is what happens now when you choose “like” or “comment”. Unfortunately we cannot change this configuration because Facebook has made it like this. So, please, place your cursor over my photo that appears in this box (without clicking) and a window will open. Now move the cursor to the word “Friends”, again without clicking and then on “Settings”. Uncheck “Life Events” and “Comments and Like”. This way my activity with my family and friends will no longer be made public. Now, copy and paste this text on your own wall (do not “share” it!). Once I see it published on your page, I will un-check the same for you.

This whole this is a hoax just like the ‘New Facebook Guidelines Policy‘ circulated last year. I expect a little common sense from those who blindly copy-paste this in their status box because this ‘exercise’ will not give you any privacy benefits. In fact, if you follow this and do as the post said, you are definitely going to miss some of the important happenings in that friend’s life! To put it blankly, whatever options you happen to uncheck in your friend’s ‘settings’ you will not receive any updates from that friend in future meaning that you are going to miss for eg: the comments and likes they make, their life events, their status updates, photos, etc. Graph search is definitely creepy and has raised many privacy concerns, although Facebook says that Graph search is ‘personalized’ meaning that if you search for “Restaurants my friends went to” will produce different results for you and your friend depending up on the privacy levels employed. So the whole process of making graph search less creepy resides in setting the privacy setting right.

So, here is my tips for making your Facebook life less creepy-like. I’m sure there are hundreds of such articles/blogs, but I don’t care. This is what I suggest:

See what is in ‘public’ about you

This is the first thing. You should know what the heck is out there is public about you that you don’t want. There are different ways to do this. Since there are not a lot of people with the new ‘news feed’, I’ll follow the options in the old and more ‘general’ Facebook interface. So to see what others see in your profile: Go to profile and click the settings next to activity log. Select ‘view as’. Here you can go for view as public or view as a specific contact in your list. See what all info about you is visible when it is viewed as public. If there’s anything that you don’t want there, go to those individual sections (including the general info) in your profile and change visibility to ‘friends’ or ‘only me’ etc.

See who can see your posts

Facebook has at least made it easier to do this. Click the privacy lock button next to your ‘Home’ button and select ‘who can see my posts’. There you can edit the audience for your future posts. To limit the audience for all your past posts, you have to click ‘settings’ next to the privacy lock button and then ‘limit old posts on Timeline’. In this section you can also decide who can look you up by searching with your email ID/Phone number and make search engines to link/not link to your Timeline.

Photos and Tags

To see all your photos and their audience, from your profile, go to activity log and then to photos. In the top, you can filter your photos based on its audience and have an idea about what all things are in public. If you want to change the visibility of one of your albums say for example, you can go to profile, then to photos and to albums and change the settings there for each album. If there are any tagged photos of you that you want to remove, you should untag yourself from that photo. In the photos section mentioned above, you go to photos of you (which shows all the photos uploaded by your friends in which you have been tagged). If you hover over a photo, you can see an edit button where you will get an option to remove/untag the photo. Now, as you probably know, you can not just remove that photo by one click. The person who has uploaded that particular photo has the control over it, but sure you can untag yourself.

Note: Untagged photos are not deleted, and hence can be viewed by anyone if it is shared with public. For the worried ones, I would suggest to activate the tag (and Timeline, if you want) review options in settings->Timeline and Tagging settings. If you enable these things any posts with your tag will needs to be reviewed by you before they show up in Facebook.

Location sharing

Location privacy is a little weird in facebook. Read this section from facebook and follow the route that best suits you.

Review your ‘likes’

This is as important as any other privacy settings in Facebook. Take a moment and ask yourself before you click the like button – ‘Do I actually like this?’. If you want limit the visibility of things you liked, go to your profiles and then to likes and edit the privacy options. If you decide to dislike the already liked pages, go to your activity log, then to likes and then dislike the pages you don’t like anymore.

Review the Apps you use

This is another important area that requires much attention but is seldom given. You can see all the apps you used with Facebook from settings->Apps. From there you can do lots of stuffs:

  • Remove an app that you don’t want to be associate with Facebook
  • Edit the visibility of app and you data that is accessible to each app
  • Control what info about you can others bring with them if they use an app.
  • Turn on/off instant personalization

Friends and Relations

Believe it or not, even your friends and relationships can appear in search results, and if you read this, there are areas in Facebook that can not be controlled by users. So it is important ot limit the visibility of your friend list and your relationships to be safe.

To limit the visibility of your Friend list, go profile and then to friends. Click the edit button and select edit privacy. There you can edit who will see the list of your friends, followers and people whom you follow. Like the page says, ‘your friends control who can see their friendships on their own Timelines’. So it will be a lot useful if people post how to do this in their status update rather than just pasting a hoax message thinking that they are all safe!! To edit the privacy of your relationships, head over to your profile, then to update profile. From there go to Family, and click the edit button on the top-right. Here you can adjust the visibility of each of your family members.

Review settings regularly

Most of all, it is important to review your settings at regular intervals so that you are always updated about the things that are going on in Facebook.

More from the blog:

Install Apps to SD Card on Your Android Phone Without Rooting it

[Fixed] The ‘always online’ problem with Google Chat

How to get rid of the new Hangout app and revert back to Talk on your Android Phone (for the good, that is!)