In Cyber Safety, The Digital World

What Everyone Should Know About Facebook Privacy Settings

Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites in the world. From students to businessmen to community leaders, Facebook’s popularity can be felt in all sectors of society. However, despite its overwhelming success, many people have expressed their concern over the amount and type of information shared on the site. Many parents in particular want to ensure that proper security measures are in place to protect their children’s personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

In an effort to protect the privacy of users, Facebook has placed privacy settings on their social site. Facebook privacy settings give users greater freedom in managing their accounts to protect their interests, and you can read more about that in Facebook.com’s help center. In the early days of the site, people may have been able to share information more freely without worrying about negative repercussions. Today, however, users need to be more cautious in choosing who they communicate with and the content they share. The more inexperienced a person is in using social media channels like Facebook, the greater precautions he or she should take to ensure there are no negative repercussions from the communications.

How Privacy Settings Can Protect Your Security

Although Facebook changes privacy settings from time to time, the overall objective remains the same; to help protect user’s overall privacy. Most people can avoid security problems on Facebook by using wisdom in what they post and who they share their information with. Unfortunately, not everyone follows these guidelines. Some teens post too much personal information publicly, posing a risk of having their information stolen or becoming the victim of an online stalker. You can read our article on Facebook Stalking in the UK to get a better idea on the risks. Others put up questionable photos which could lead to online sexual harassment. Through the use of privacy settings, Facebook users have a greater chance of protecting themselves from unscrupulous individuals online.

New Facebook privacy settings can help users protect their security by giving them greater control over who reads their posts, what others post about them and who has access to past information. Rather than going public with your information, you can change Facebook privacy settings to reflect the audience you want to interact with, i.e. Friends Only, Public, etc. By reading more about Facebook privacy settings, users can get a better idea of how these settings can be used to their advantage. If you desire greater privacy in your Facebook social media activities, the following steps can help you get started.

1.     Know Your Audience

Unless you want everyone to have access to your posts and photos, you would do well to use privacy settings to manage your account. Privacy settings give you greater control over your posts, making sure they don’t fall into the hands of the wrong people who could use your information against you.

The first step towards controlling your posts is to become acquainted with Facebook’s Audience Selector tool that explains how to set privacy settings on Facebook. You can read more about it on Facebook.com here. Through this tool, you can change a privacy setting on Facebook from public to a select audience. You can find a comprehensive guide explaining how to use this tool on the Facebook site. You’ll have a chance to select your audience every time you share a link, post or photo, so be sure you choose wisely.

Facebook privacy settings change people’s perspective on social media by helping them distinguish between friends and mere acquaintances online. Few people would share private information with acquaintances in person. In like manner, they should not do so online. By changing privacy settings to Friends Only, your data will be shared with people you know and trust. You should review your friends list regularly to make sure these are the people you want viewing your photos and posts.

Befriending the wrong people on Facebook can be unwise and even dangerous as you could become the victim of identity theft, fraud or cyber-bullying. Even sharing your information with friends of friends can create problems as there’s no way of knowing who these people are. Trusting your information to strangers is never wise. Facebook group privacy settings and individual privacy settings give you sufficient options to protect your security by choosing the audience you desire. When you choose the Friends Only setting, you limit your personal information, photos and posts to individuals you trust. Here is a guide from Facebook.com on how to do that.

2.     Clean Your History

Many people are finding out too late that what goes up on Facebook stays up. This includes party pictures, private information and personal posts. Young people in particular should be very careful what they post as it could be used against them later down the line. It’s no secret that many companies and prospective employers check out social profiles of would be employees to get an idea of who they really are.

If you posted material that can tarnish your reputation or image, you may be able to use privacy settings for damage control. By clicking on Limit Past Posts, you can clean your history by limiting the viewing of this material to your Friends Only or Only Me category. When you change privacy settings, Facebook becomes a more secure place to socialize.

Facebook photo privacy settings include the use of Tag Review; a process that gives you leeway in being tagged in other people’s photos. When you enable the Tag Review setting, people cannot tag you in a photo without your approval. This helps keep inappropriate photos off of your profile. When you do approve a tagged photo, be sure to go through the Audience Selector tool to double check who you are sharing the photo with. By selecting Custom from the menu, you can be selective in who you want to see the tag. With photo privacy settings, Facebook makes it easier for its faithful users to protect their reputation.

3.     Secure Your Contacts

Although you don’t want to make it too hard for people to find you on Facebook, you also don’t want just anyone looking you up. Your social media security should be important to you as it could affect other areas of your life. Through privacy settings, Facebook gives you a greater say in receiving friend requests and allowing others to find you through your email or through a Google search. Linking your timeline to search engines such as Google can be risky as you don’t know what posts may be revealed with such a search. You can avoid this risk by putting this setting on No.

Teen Safety on Facebook

Facebook can be a great way for your teens to connect with others their age and socialize online. At the same time, teens should be aware of the risks of sharing too much information or communicating with people they don’t know. The following statistics emphasize the need for parents to be cautious when allowing their teens to open a Facebook account. According to Consumer Reports:

  • 55% of adolescents using Facebook have released personal data, physical descriptions of themselves and photos to complete strangers
  • 24% have suffered from the public release of embarrassing data without giving their consent
  • 25% of teens using Facebook have had problems with online stalking

These statistics reveal the need for young users to be educated on how to use social media wisely. You can find more of these statistics and other useful information in our article Facebook Users. By learning more about how Facebook operates, especially Facebook privacy settings, parents can teach their teens how to use this platform in a safe and secure way.

Unfortunately, many parents are unaware or ignore the fact that Facebook has a minimum age limit (13 years old) for opening an account. This is because children under 12 may not understand the dangers of social media and ignore safety guidelines. Young children who have little supervision online can easily fall prey to stalkers, cyber-bullies and other criminals waiting to take advantage of their security ignorance. You can read more about Facebook bullying in the help center here.

Adhering to Facebook age guidelines is one way parents can help protect their kids from the dangers of online social sites. Putting guidelines in place for their kids’ social media usage is another.  For tips on how to do that, read our Facebook Security article here. Parents should discuss these guidelines in advance with their teen and come to a mutual agreement for their social media use before allowing them to create a Facebook account. Learning how to use Facebook safely and wisely should be a top priority for all users, regardless of their age. This includes studying the guidelines for each privacy setting Facebook has to offer.

Who’s Posting What on Facebook?

As a parent, you should be aware of your teen’s interactions on Facebook and the content they are posting. Young teens in particular can be quite naïve about the content they share, realizing the negative repercussions that could result from their posts later down the line. For this reason, parents should have some system of monitoring their teens’ activities to ensure they are using their privileges wisely. By keeping tabs on their teens’ social media usage, parents can help them avoid problems.

Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and others are designed to encourage interaction between people and information sharing. The more activity on their sites, the more money they generate. This doesn’t mean, however, that people should be haphazard in their socializing, making all their communications public for the world to see. Through the use of Facebook settings, privacy measures can be put into place to protect your teen’s information, reputation and relationships with others.

Are Facebook Privacy Settings Not Working?

The main reason why Facebook privacy settings are not providing the full protection users need is because many are not putting them into effect. In order to benefit from privacy measures, users need to utilize the Audience Selector tool to enable the privacy measures they desire. If your teens are not making the effort to put privacy settings into effect, they are probably sharing their information openly with anyone who has a Facebook account. Sharing too much information or posting questionable photos can compromise a young person’s future.

The content your teen posts on Facebook is his or her personal property. However, Facebook has the right to share this content in accordance to your teen’s stipulations on his or her Facebook setting, i.e. Public, Friends Only, Friends of Friends, etc. Snopes’ Facebook privacy settings announcements stating that Facebook plans to “confiscate” users’ content as their own has been denounced by the company as false. Facebook has set the record straight concerning this Facebook privacy settings hoax on their website. Even though posts remain the private property of their users, it’s still important for parents and teens to manage their content wisely in order to protect their interests while enjoying the benefits of social media to the fullest.

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