Reviewing your Privacy Settings
Privacy and protection of personal data is always a concern on Facebook. We know we should periodically review Facebook Privacy and Account settings. There are two good reasons to do this. First Facebook occasionally creates new settings especially when new features are introduced. You want to be sure you agree with Facebook's default settings for new features. Second, your sharing preferences may change over time. You can change your mind and perhaps your settings are too strict, or most likely not strict enough.
Facebook recently revamped some privacy settings, so if you haven't reviewed your settings lately, now would be a good time. Think of it as an early spring cleaning. Facebook has created a new shortcut to assist you. Have you noticed there is a new privacy icon on the top blue menu bar, next to Home?
Private or Public?
What information on Facebook is private vs. public? Facebook considers your name, profile picture, and cover photo public information. You cannot set these items to friends only.
If you click on Privacy Shortcuts (next to Home), then click Who Can See my Stuff? and finally click on View As, you can see how your Timeline looks to someone who is not your friend, your Timeline public view. If you see posts and photos other than your profile and cover photos, this means these items have a share option of "public". If you want to limit these posts to friends only, you have two options.
First, from your Timeline you can click on Activity Log, and then from the left menu column, click on Your Posts. You can then change your share options on individual posts. Or, to change all your posts all at once, click on Privacy Settings from the top right blue menu bar tool gear, then click on Limit Past Posts from the Who Can See My Stuff category, then click on Limit Old Posts.
What about other data that is showing publicly on your Timeline? You will need to check your share options on the About, and Likes links found on your Timeline. Click on each link and then the Edit options to modify your share settings.
Internet Access of your Timeline
Did you know you have a Facebook username that allows anyone direct access to your Facebook Timeline? Try it yourself by using the URL address www.facebook.com/firstname.lastname and see what shows up. Make sure you are logged off from Facebook when you do this. (You can validate your username by going to Account Settings, General.)
If you get a message that says "This content is currently unavailable" good for you! This means you have updated your Facebook Privacy settings and disabled search engines from finding your account. You can update this setting in the Privacy Settings, Who can look me up? section. When "Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline" is set to Off, your Timeline will not be found by a Google or Bing search.
If your Timeline does appear, take note of what is showing. Aside from your name, profile picture, and cover photo, everything else showing has a share option of public that you should be able to modify!
Class Action Suit
If you are not happy with Facebook's handling of your privacy, go ahead and join the current class action suit against Facebook. This suit covers Facebook Sponsored Stories, which are ads that may have contained your name or name and photo. You won't get rich, but you can make your claim and possibly receive up to $10. You may have received a legal notice email that you ignored.
Not to worry if you can't find the email. You can use this link to file a claim and find out more information, You will need your Facebook username. You can find your username by clicking on Account Settings, General.
I don't know if anyone can say for sure how the new Graph Search may impact our Facebook lives, but for now, it does not hurt to find ways to help ensure our privacy. My rule is if you post, protect - but don't post anything that would cause you discomfort if it became public!