It’s Time To Audit Your Facebook Privacy Settings

by Joanna Pineda Posted on October 13, 2010

I found out recently that the iPhone version of the Facebook app synchronizes with personal profiles on Facebook.  Which means (gasp!) that if a friend has your private phone numbers in his/her phone, it’s possible that those numbers are now on Facebook.  Egads!

While I love Facebook, Twitter, instant messenger, etc., I try very hard to limit the amount of personal information that I share on those networks, including and especially my address, home phone number, information about my family, etc.  But with the social networks constantly updating their terms of use and adding new functionality to their sites and apps, it’s hard to keep up with the changes and monitor the impact on our privacy.

Which is why I recommend an audit of your Facebook (and other social network) privacy settings on a regular basis. Here’s how:

Facebook Privacy  Settings Landing Page

Here’s what your Facebook Privacy Settings Landing page looks like.  Note that you can share parts of your profile with Everyone, Friends of Friends and Friends Only.  I have edited my profile so that nearly everything about my profile is visible to Friends Only.  But wait, this page only shows you a fraction of the privacy settings available to you.  To view and edit all of your privacy settings, click on Customize Settings.

You’ll also notice two navigation items on the left for Recommended and Custom.  Click on Recommended and you’ll see that Facebook recommends that a great deal of your profile be available to everyone.  You can select these default settings with a click.  Me, I definitely opted for the Custom Settings.

Customize Settings Page

Here’s what the Customize Settings page looks like.  You’ll see that you can select who can see elements of your profile.  Here are my recommendations:

As for that pesky iPhone app that uploads your personal information to Facebook, unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about that.  Facebook did recently add a warning to the app, warning users to make sure their friends are comfortable sharing their information with others.  This is a small consolation to me; I would venture to guess that most people don’t think about the privacy ramifications of their actions and apps and will blow right past this user agreement.  What to do?  This may sound dorky, but here’s what I’ve told my friends:

How about you?  Have you audited your Facebook privacy settings recently?  Any revelations?  Any privacy disasters?  What are you doing, if anything, to maintain a semblance of privacy online?

3 replies on “It’s Time To Audit Your Facebook Privacy Settings”

Most of my settings were the way I want them, but somehow my birthday become ‘EVERYONE’??? Not that it matters, really, as my birthday is fake in Facebook. (Do people really put their real birthdays in there? I guess some do. ) But an occasional audit is good. I’m torn on ‘friends of friends’ vs. ‘friends’ for photos. ‘Friends of Friends’ is a nice way to find other friends … but if a friend of yours is one of those folks who has thousands of ‘friends,’ it’s more dangerous.

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