Fear of Facebook: Part II: How to use Facebook privacy settings

Fear of Facebook: Part II: How to use Facebook privacy settings

Facebook estimates that only 20% of its members take advantage of the privacy features. As a business professional using Facebook, privacy settings allow you to manage your network so you can speak discreetly to certain Friends, like co-workers or family members, as opposed to other "Friends" like bosses or professional colleagues. Last week I posted some general considerations about Facebook privacy here. If you want to know more about how-to-use-privacy-settings on Facebook read on.

TIP: You may recall that when you logged on to Facebook during December of 2009 you were prompted to either retain your current privacy settings or switch to the new default setting of EVERYONE for everything. That's because Facebook had just opened up site content to public search engines for the first time and they wanted your content. From a business networking perspective, you do not want to share everything on Facebook with Everyone.

Five Steps to managing your Facebook privacy.


Find the Account tab in the upper right hand corner of the Facebook main screen. There are four primary sections that affect your privacy - Edit Friends, Account Settings, Privacy Settings, and Application Settings.


From Account, select Edit Friends. On the left sidebar of the Edit Friends page you'll see LISTS; under Lists, click on Friends. Click on "Create List."

Lists are organized around the type of posts, photos, notes, status updates, etc. that you want to share with specific categories of Friends in your FB network.  Name your list something like Professional, Family, Tennis, School, Limited View, etc. Select the friends that fit that list. You can always add more Friends to a list after its been created. Remember to add any new Friends that you welcome into your network to the appropriate LIST. Friends can be on multiple lists. Make as many lists as you think you need, but try to keep it simple for your own sake.

Practical Pointer: You also have the option to dynamically control visibility for each individual piece of content as it is posted. Simply select a visibility setting for that specific post from the drop down menu beneath the post box.  In addition to the global choices of Everyone, Only Friends, or Friends of Friends, you can customize the post visibility to exclude individuals or Lists.  For example, a businessperson using Facebook may want to share a status update about a speaking engagement, article, or something clever. Selecting "Everyone" makes that post visible to public search engines. This, of course, is a good strategy for increasing your exposure and gives your online footprint one more hit. Other times, you may only want to share content such as a photo of your vacation with a narrower community. Keep in mind that even if you select Only Friends you will be sharing with your entire Friend list, but not with off site search engines. If you want to exclude certain Friends from a list you created, select Custom and add the list.


Go back to the Account tab at the top of your screen and select My Account. The My Account Page covers a lot of categories. Let's start by clicking the Notifications tab.

Notifications: To get notifications for the various actions other people take on Facebook (recommended for monitoring your reputation) check every box to notify you by Email (some notifications have the option of mobile delivery SMS). Keep scrolling down.

If you don't want to get a lot of email from Facebook, you may want to uncheck the notification for "Friends Updates."  Keep scrolling down.

Applications: Applications are things like those games and quizzes that your friends have tagged you on. It's best to uncheck ALL the boxes unless you want your information being shared with applications your Friends use. Don't forget to view the Show More.

Go back to My Accounts page and select the Facebook Ads tab.

Facebook Ads: On this page there are two separate controls. By default, Facebook occasionally uses your name in conjunction with advertisements, such as "Joe is a fan of Diet Coke." Configure your appearance in social ads to "no one" and HIT SAVE.

Scroll down. The next action determines how your social actions, such as joining groups and fan pages effect the Facebook Ads you see on your Facebook page. If you want those ads to be relevant to you, go ahead and share your information. Otherwise, select "no one" and HIT SAVE.

To read about steps four and five, visit the Virtual Marketing Officer Blog.