Facebook wants you to believe that your information is private and that it doesn’t share anything that you haven’t agreed to with third parties. However, these settings aren’t always easy to find, and they aren’t always switched on by default. Facebook’s business is to get you to share as much as possible, especially with their advertisers, so here is your handy guide to setting up Facebook so that your privacy is as tight as a duck ass.
Please note that this privacy guide may not be for you. With increased privacy, you may have to give up some functionality, including applications, which are the backdoor to your proverbial duck’s ass. Do not trust third party applications with your privacy. They see you only as +1 to their total user base. Treat Facebook themselves with that same disrespect. They do not have your best interests at heart. You would be wise to remember this fact. If anything breaks or your lose any data, don’t blame me. I accept no liability.
First of all, you should understand Facebook’s standard options with regards to privacy. They are:
- Friends of Friends
- Only Friends
In the majority of cases the hardcore fuck-you-Facebook option is hidden under Customize. So for each and every case you can find in your Privacy settings, you need to choose Customize and then select Only Me. We aim to hide everything first, then after everything is tied down, we’ll choose to share the things we really want to share.
So, lets get stuck in. Go to the default Privacy screen under Account. It is split into several key areas as shown below:
Select Personal information and posts:
Set everything to Customize – Only Me.
With regards to Photo albums privacy, set each album to Customize – Only me. I actually deleted all of my photos on Facebook apart for the one single default profile photo (that you are “required” to have as a genuine photo). I do not trust Facebook with my photos. There are better and more open and transparent photo sharing methods on the internet.
Go back to Privacy and select Contact Information:
Set everything to Customize – Only me. Add me as a friend can only be set to Friends of Friends and Send me a message should be set to Only friends. If you have been on Facebook for a while these options will probably suffice. Everyone you know is probably already a friend, or at a minimum a friend of a friend. If you really want to leave that ex-girlfriend from university find you and send you an email, then leave the Send me a message open. However, you would be wise to remember that you dumped her in the first place because she was a psycho bunny boiler!
Go back to Privacy and select Friends, tags and connections:
Set every option to Customize – Only Me. This will stop any embarrassing photos of you being tagged, any relationship blunders, and friends seeing your list of friends (you might not always want to share this).
Go back to Privacy and select Applications and Websites:
This isn’t so simple as setting everything to lock down. You have to dig around a bit. Go through one option at a time. Whilst on this screen lock down Activity on applications and games dashboards to Customize – Only Me.
Select What your friends can share about you – Edit settings:
Uncheck every single option. This stops your friends giving access to your information to third party applications. Do you hate Farmville? If any of these options are checked, then your friend that plays Farmville daily can share your information with Farmville, even if you haven’t authorised Farmville. Scrub the lot!
Go back to the Privacy and select Applications and websites. Then select Instant Personalization Pilot Program – Edit Setting:
Make sure the box is unchecked!
Go back to Privacy and select Search:
Set Facebook search results to Customize – Only friends. Uncheck Public search results.
Now the main privacy options are looking good. Now under Account go to Application settings. If you are smart (paranoid) about your privacy you will have deleted all of the applications you can. Some of Facebook’s own applications cannot be removed. However, we can lock them down.
For each application click on Edit Settings. Under the Profile tab remove the Box and Tab options, and then set the Privacy to Customize – Only Me.
Throughout this process Facebook provides a helpful tool that shows you what your profile looks like to other people. Note the Preview My Profile button shown top right whilst within the privacy settings. You can enter a friend’s name to see what your profile looks like to them. Otherwise your profile is shown as it would be seen by any non-friend from a search result or linked from a wall comment or “like”. As a side note, the actual default profile used to do the profile check is a user called Everyone.
Now you profile and information is secure (until Facebook adds a new feature). I deleted everything except for my wall. No photos, videos, links, notes, about me, work experience, current location, religious views, etc.
Now, to make Facebook somewhat a fun experience, you don’t want to leave your settings like this. Sometimes you want to update your status and allow friends to comment on it. To re-enable this, go to Privacy – Personal information and posts:
Set Posts by me and Comments on posts to Only friends. You can optionally allow friends to write on your wall, although your mate Johnny writing “god you were drunk last night” isn’t ideal to share with all your friends. Remember that you are opening a backdoor here. If you write a status update or upload a photo that was only destined for your friends, but one of those friends has their wall shared with Everyone, then anyone can see the link to your photos or update.
So, you are finished for now. Keep checking through the privacy options every few weeks. Facebook often adds new features, and you need to tighten up the default options when they do so. They don’t do it for you!