Once upon a time, it was
possible to prevent personal data from getting into the hands of the wrong
person by using a paper shredder and a bit of common sense.
However, with the rise of digital culture and social sharing, information
traditionally shared between friends – such as relationship status, personal
photographs, birthdays and even cell phone numbers – can be inadvertently
accessible to anyone with a bit of Google search know-how.
For many people, social networking has become a normalized part of social
life. As the most established and widely used social networking site,
Facebook contains ‘years of details’ about its users’ lives.
The consequences of this information being public can range from anything as
serious as identity theft, to making those photos from your friend’s
bachelorette party available to prospective employers.
Studies have shown that although 92% of internet users worry about their
online privacy, only 29% have taken steps to change their privacy settings
to ensure greater protection on social networking sites.
The fact that this information isn’t automatically private doesn’t mean that
Facebook doesn’t offer users the option to be selective about the
information they share publicly, it’s just up to the user to activate these
features for themselves.
Being aware of your privacy settings is empowering in a number of ways.
Firstly, you can selectively share positive information about yourself on
your public profile. For example, it might be useful to share a piece of
work that you’re proud of publicly, but keep controversial political
opinions for friends only.
Secondly, you reduce the risk of your account being compromised and your
personal information being exploited.
With this in mind, on Safer Internet Day, we show you how to customize your
Facebook privacy settings.
1. Choose a secure password
A weak password can leave
your account vulnerable to being improperly accessed, yet a surprising
number of people choose obvious, easily guessable words or phrases.
A good password should be a random word that is at least 10 characters
long, with a mixture of upper and lower case characters.
Using something random but relevant – say a word from the 10th page of
your favorite book – ensures that your password is obscure without
being irretrievable, should you forget it.
Setup login alert
Switch on login alerts on
Facebook to receive a notification whenever someone logs onto your account
from a new device.
If someone attempts to access your account then you will instantly receive
an email notifying you of this, which gives you the option of changing your
3) Set up login approvals
One step further than a
login alert, a login approval means that you will need to input a
security code every time someone attempts to access your Facebook
account from a new device.
The security code will be unique each time and sent to you via your
registered cell phone number.
4) Set up your posts to be shared
with ‘Friends only’
Set ‘Friends only’ as a default setting on all your posts. If you wish
to share something publicly you can change the privacy on a
5) Check who can see your personal
Such as physical address,
email address or phone number. Set these to be seen by ‘Me Only’ for
Change who can see posts from friends on your timeline
Avoid sharing your happy birthday messages with the world by limiting
who can see posts from your friends in timeline and tagging settings.
7) Set up tag approvals
Review all tagged photos of yourself before they appear on your
timeline. You can’t control other people’s privacy settings, but you
can prevent yourself being the front cover of your own personal
8) Customize the visibility
settings for each individual post
Keep in mind which information will enhance your public profile and
which could damage it.
As we mentioned at the start, whereas it may be useful to publicly
share a piece of work that you’re proud of, you might prefer to keep
controversial political opinions for friends only.
9) Never agree to connect
with anyone who you don’t know
Agreeing to ‘Friend’ a stranger allows them access to your public
profile. Also something to be kept in mind when connecting with
colleagues or new acquaintances.
10) Remember, Facebook
has two sides.
Your public profile should be more formal with the consideration that
a future employer may see it.
Your ‘friends only’ profile is for people who are interested in you
and your private life.
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