How to protect your privacy on facebook

Over the weekend, The New York Times and The Observer revealed that Cambridge Analytica paid to acquire private information on more than 50 million Facebook users.

The information allowed the firm to provide services to then-candidate Donald Trump's election campaign, including creating "target audiences for digital ads and fund-raising appeals, modeling voter turnout," and more, according to the report.

It's yet another reminder that what you do on Facebook might not always be as private as you think.

It's time to double down on your Facebook privacy settings. Without completely deleting your account, there may be no guarantee that your data is ever really private, but these steps can help you protect your personal information.

1. Beware of those fun "quizzes" and apps

One of the way researchers were able to gather information on Facebook users was through "personality quizzes." Those are pretty common on the network, and users may find them as an attractive time-killer to learn more about themselves. Some of those quizzes allowed Cambridge University's Psychometrics Centre to gather private information from Facebook profiles, including from friends and activities, the Times said. Remember: Nothing is free. If you're inputting data about yourself, especially in a random third-party app, you're giving it away.

2. Change your privacy settings

Facebook has a lot of privacy settings available to users, though you might not know about them. You can manage your own by tapping the drop-down arrow on the top-right of Facebook, choosing "Settings" and then selecting "Privacy." Here, you can control who sees your posts, your phone number, your friend requests and more. Consider changing these settings so that only you can see this data. Remember: If a friend takes a quiz like the one mentioned above, they could be giving up their friends list, which includes you.

3. Beware who your friends are

That brings us to the next point: Beware who your friends are. If your friends aren't using strict privacy settings, then photos and other posts you're tagged in could still be shared or viewed by others. Facebook explicitly says this: "Remember, your friends control who can see their friendships on their own Timelines. If people can see your friendship on another timeline, they'll be able to see it in News Feed, search and other places on Facebook." Consider pressing your friends to increase their security settings, too, and only befriending people you know and trust.

4. Consider avoiding third-party apps altogether

You might be tempted to install games and other apps that are available through Facebook, but doing so allows those apps to tap into your personal data, including your name, profile picture, gender, networks, username, friends list and other public information. You can manage what an app has access to by going to Settings and selecting "Apps" on the left side of the screen. You'll usually need to share your personal information just to use the app, but you can deselect the option to share your friends list, email address and more.

5. Turn on extra security settings

You can beef up your Facebook security even more by getting alerts when Facebook sees a login from a device or browser you don't typically use. You should also turn on two-factor authentication so that a code sent to your phone is required each time you log in. This will help — but not guarantee — to prevent others from accessing your account. Remember, though: Apps and friends can still share some of this data regardless of whether they're logged in to your account or not. To access these extra settings, go to Facebook's Settings page, select "Security and Login" from the left side and scroll down to the "Setting Up Extra Security" section.

Harry Guinness
How to protect your privacy on facebookHarry Guinness

Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium’s OneZero. Read more.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

In response to the Cambridge Analytica fiasco and the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Facebook has started making it easier for people to control who and what can see and use your data on Facebook. Let’s take a look at what you can do to protect your privacy.

Use Facebook’s New Privacy Tools

The GDPR has forced Facebook to introduce new privacy options and they’ve decided to roll them out world wide. At some point in the next couple of months you’ll get a pop up asking you to make some choices about:

  • Ads based on data from Facebook’s partners.
  • Information—like relationship status and religion—that you are currently sharing on your profile.
  • Whether or not you want to allow Facebook to use facial recognition.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

When you get the pop up asking you to review them, do it straight away. That doesn’t, however, mean there’s nothing you can do now.

Complete a Privacy Check-up

Facebook’s mobile app has a handy Privacy Check-up that walks you through some important privacy settings. For some reason, it’s not available through the website. Head to the Settings > Settings and Privacy > Privacy Shortcuts > Privacy Check-up.

How to protect your privacy on facebookHow to protect your privacy on facebook

There are three separate steps. First, you select the default setting for who can see your posts when you share them—Public, Friends, Friends Except, and Only Me. Of course, whatever default you set here, you can override when you make an actual post. For example, if your default is to only share posts with friends, you could still share a particular post publicly if you wanted to.

How to protect your privacy on facebookHow to protect your privacy on facebook

Next, you’ll see a list of all the information on your profile and who it’s currently shared with. I didn’t realize so many of my old email addresses were visible to any of my 1500 friends, so I changed a few of them to Only Me.

How to protect your privacy on facebookHow to protect your privacy on facebook

Finally, you will see a list of all the apps and websites you’ve given permission to access your data. You can change who can see your activity in those apps on Facebook and, if you want, delete an app and block it from accessing your data again. To do that, tap the “X” and then tap the “Delete app” button. This is how Cambridge Analytica (and many, many other companies) got data from millions of Facebook users, so it’s worth going through and removing any apps you don’t use just in case.

How to protect your privacy on facebookHow to protect your privacy on facebook

It’s also worth noting that you can clean up your Facebook apps on the website; there just isn’t a simple wizard like there is in the mobile app.

Think About What You Post

This one probably goes without saying, but you should consider carefully what you post on Facebook. It’s easy to let personal information slip out. For example, a photo of a college acceptance letter could give away things like your address, date of birth, and SSN. A photo outside the front of your house combined with regular check-ins nearby could reveal where you live.

While it can feel like you only interact with your closest friends on Facebook, you’re probably also friends with a load of casual acquaintances. If you wouldn’t tell them where you live or give them your phone number when you see them, you should make sure that you don’t accidentally give it to them on Facebook.

Unfriend or Block People You Don’t Know or Like

On the subject of large friends lists, if there are a lot of people you don’t know—or don’t like—on yours, you should go through and unfriend them. If you really don’t like them and think they might wish you ill, you should block them too.

While you can limit your Facebook posts to certain people, if you have no intention of speaking to a person again, it’s pointless to remain friends with them. Why share personal details with people you don’t know or like?

Limit or Delete Your Past Posts

Facebook has been around for over a decade. I know I’ve changed a lot in the last ten years and that there are some very embarrassing posts in my history. I’ve been using Facebook’s On This Day feature to slowly remove the worst of them but if you’ve got some potentially personal or compromising posts in your history, you should go through and remove them. If there’s more than one or two, you can change the privacy on all your past posts quickly or use a Chrome extension to delete them fully.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

You should also un-tag yourself from any bad photos. It won’t get rid of them, but it will stop people from finding them through your profile.

Facebook’s privacy settings have historically been an absolute nightmare. The good news is that they’re apparently committed to making things easier for everyone. Rest assured, whenever Facebook rolls out a new way to protect your privacy, we’ll update you on how to use it.

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How to protect your privacy on facebook Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium’s OneZero.
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O ver the weekend, it was revealed that a political research firm had harvested data from nearly 50 million Facebook profiles.

It’s not entirely accurate to call the incident a “data breach.” Most of the user data that the firm, Cambridge Analytica, had access to was handed over willingly by those users.

Basically, those users gave Facebook permissions to a personality quiz app. It was only after media outlets reported that the app’s creator gave that data to Cambridge Analytica that Facebook took action and pulled the plug — claiming that sharing user data was against their rules.

App developers can request to access a lot of your Facebook data, from your religious and political beliefs, to your friends list and public posts. Services, social media sites and platforms that you use Facebook to sign up for can also ask for this data.

Worse still, we may be giving access to that private data without really thinking about it. With the recent news, now is a good time to review and shore up your privacy practices on Facebook. Here’s how.

How to Protect Your Privacy

Digital and online privacy is a pretty expansive topic, and there are numerous facets of it that can involve Facebook and social media.

So, in the interest of time, we’ll focus on one particular area: the personal data that third-party services and platforms can access — and probably already do.

1 Think About Who You Grant Permission To

When you use a Facebook app, that app will typically ask for permission to view and access some of your personal data.

But it’s not just personality quizzes and Facebook games. There’s a wide range of social media platforms, websites, iOS apps and services that allow you to login or create a new account via your Facebook profile.

When you sign up for their platforms, they can also ask to see some of your personal data.

Facebook’s privacy and permission policies also change and have tightened up in recent years. While that means their policies are stricter now, it also means that apps you granted access to before 2014 may have permission to see a ton of your data.

The pre-2014 permission access allows these apps to see your relationships, interests, birthdays, education history, status updates, work history, notes — and a slew of data points on your friends, too.

2 Review Apps You’ve Given Access To

You can carefully weigh what data points third-parties can access in the future and hopefully mitigate any issues. But chances are you’ve already granted permission to quite a few apps and platforms already.

Luckily, you can review the overall lists of platforms and parties by doing the following.

If you’re on a computer, then use the following steps.

  1. Open up your favorite browser and log in to Facebook.
  2. Click the downward-arrow in the upper-right corner of the screen.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. On the left-hand, click on Apps.

Alternatively, if you’re on mobile (iOS and Android), then do this.

  1. Open Facebook.
  2. Tap on the three-lined icon in the bottom right.
  3. Scroll down and tap on Settings.
  4. Tap on Account Settings.
  5. Scroll down and tap on Apps.

In either case, you’ll see a Logged in with Facebook category. This is where all of your app permissions live.

If you spot an app that you’re not keen on having access to your data, you have two options.

  • Revoke App Permissions. You can take away an app’s ability to see your data entirely. On a computer, hover over the app in question and click the X. On mobile, tap on the app and scroll down. Tap Remove App.
  • Edit App Permissions. Alternatively, you can simply adjust the amount of data that apps can see. On a computer, hover over the app and click Edit. Click the blue checkmark next to the particular data point you’d like to revoke. On mobile, tap on the app and then the data point to remove it.

3 Revoke Data Access from Apps Other Use

Unfortunately, it’s not just your own apps and platforms that can access your data. Your friends’ apps can, too. That means a personality quiz that your Facebook friend signs up for can —theoretically — view your hometown, religious and political preferences, and other data points.

To edit what they can see, try this.

  1. On mobile or desktop, tap on the section that says Apps others use.
  2. From here, you can edit the data points that friends’ apps can access.
  3. While there’s no specific toggle to turn it off, if you remove all data points, then the feature is technically “disabled.”

4 Consider Contacting The Third-Party

There’s an important point to note here. Performing the steps above only revokes current and future access to your data.

In other words, third-party apps may have already collected your data. Those apps may very well be storing that data, too.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do at this point — but you can try contacting the developer and asking to have your data removed.

  • On your computer, click on the app in question. At the very bottom of the pop-up window, you’ll see (in small text) an option that says Report App. In the next window, click I want to send my own message to the developer.
  • On mobile, tap on an app. Scroll down and tap Report App. Select I want to send my own message to the developer.

You can then write up a message asking them to delete your data. There’s nothing in Facebook’s policies that state developers must fulfill your request — but it’s worth a shot.

Other Privacy Tips & Best Practices

Of course, reviewing your app permissions is only one aspect of online privacy. In fact, it’s only one aspect of Facebook privacy. There’s perhaps too much to cover here, but there are a few key takeaways to keep in mind.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

Ever wondered how you get adverts and other stuff pertaining to you on your feed on Facebook? Well sites such as Facebook share your personal data with them. You might already know this and are not really that concerned. Or maybe you are but you just don’t know what to do about it. Even Mark Zuckerberg says that Facebook is going to fix its privacy issues. Well until that’s done, here are a few tips on how you can protect your privacy on Facebook.

There are many w a ys in which you can protect your privacy on Facebook but we won’t be talking about all of them in this post. We’ll be looking at some basic but effective ways in which you can keep your personal information just that- personal.

The first and most important piece of information is to delete what you don’t want others to see. Well you may say that I already don’t have information which I don’t want others to see on Facebook in the first place. It may not be so. Since the time you opened your account up until now, you’ll be surprised with how much info has collected. Your birthday, schools, places you’ve visited and much more are all open for everyone to see.

While that may not be much of an issue in and of itself it still makes you an ideal target for anyone wishing to get close to you. To better explain my point think of this scenario- you are approached by a person who asks you whether you remember them from so and so school and to be polite you say yes. They then ask you about another mutual contact which as you know is easy for them to find out. Now you have your doubts, you think maybe I know this person and you agree on going out with them. Congrats! you’ve just placed yourself in the hands of a predator.

Now you may rethink what to put on Facebook and what to not put. So what do you do?

This first thing you can do is to go to your profile page. You can do this by clicking on your name and photo on your profile page. Once there click about. There will be categories relating to the places you’ve visited, schools and so on. Whatever you don’t want delete. Then there are some categories that don’t have an option to delete but to only to edit, such as the birth date and gender.

It’s almost the same thing on the mobile too. So we won’t get into it here.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

Facebook has a thing or software where it tags you in pictures that another person has uploaded of you. So whether you’re in a group picture or going solo, anyone will know who you are as you’ve been tagged. For some this may make them feel uncomfortable. If you’re such a person then follow these simple steps.

When you’re on Facebook on any page, go to the question mark on the screen and select the option- privacy shortcuts and then control facial recognition. From there on out, it should be easy for you. Just select edit and no and then you’re done and protected your privacy on Facebook.

Ok now for the mobile app. Go to the hamburger option on the app that is the three horizontal lines on the top of the screen. Then select Settings and Privacy and then privacy shortcuts.

Once you’re here there may be other things that need some tweaking. So look for what they are and do it. Over there click control facial recognition. Click on it do the needful.

When you log on to other sites on Facebook such as Yelp, Triplt or Newspaper sites, they get access to data from your Facebook account. Basically they’re all kinda linked. This would include just about everything you have on your account.

If you’re an Apple user then this will be substituted with Apple sign- in shortly, which is much safer (I’m just kidding). To avoid having Facebook partners browsing through your personal stuff make them separate. In other words use them as separate apps. You can do this by creating logins and passwords for each of them. A password manager will help you in this.

Once all this is done you can prevent those partners from accessing you’re information there by protect your privacy on Facebook. If you haven’t logged in to Facebook for some time, say 90 days then automatically those sites won’t have access to your data anyway.

If you’re on a desktop then to protect your privacy on Facebook, you’d have to go to each site and make the necessary password and login. But if you’re on a mobile app you can do so in one small step.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

On the web, go to settings on Facebook and then Apps and Websites. To disassociate from any of them just check the boxes on the right. Once that’s done press on the remove option.

Now, on to the mobile app. Again go into the hamburger option. Go to settings and again onto apps and websites. Go on to the apps, websites and games option. Tap on edit and turn off (not you, I mean the option- sorry bad joke). This step will remove all your websites permissions.

Maybe you’re a person who loves talking about your life or what you’re up to for the next one hour. If you’re such a person who likes giving hourly updates about yourself then you might want to decide who you’d like giving those update to. You can do this of course, you can select who’d you want looking at your updates and who you don’t want looking.

These are a few basic steps in how you can protect your privacy on Facebook. While there might be more comprehensive steps you’d like to take, these will still keep your data private till then.

Protecting your privacy on Facebook can feel like a full-time job. The social network has made a habit of tweaking its privacy policies with some regularity — and in many cases, it’s up to you to take proactive steps in order to keep your info out of the public eye.

This week’s introduction of Facebook’s “Open Graph” is no exception. By default, you’re now opted in to the company’s new social sharing services, and this time, they stretch way beyond the confines of

If you’re comfortable with that, more power to you. But if you’d rather keep your personal preferences private, here’s a step-by-step guide to taking back control.

Facebook’s Social Web and Your Privacy

First, let’s take a quick jog through what we’re actually dealing with here. There are two key pieces to Facebook’s new Web-wide social services. The simpler one is the universal “Like” button (not to be confused with the universal “Indifferent” button, which I keep hoping will be adopted).

The universal “Like” button looks like Facebook’s regular “Like” button, only it appears on blogs and news sites all over the Web. If you click it while on any external Web site, know that you’re authorizing Facebook to publish your activity right onto your Facebook profile (and hence also onto your friends’ news feeds). Any friends of yours who visit the third-party Web site could also see that you were there. Translation: Don’t click “Like” while visiting

That’s the easy part. The second (and slightly more creepy) part is what Facebook calls “instant personalization.” This is a partnership-driven service in which Facebook automatically enables a “personal and social experience” on certain external Web sites.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

So what’s that really mean? Here’s how Facebook explains it:

“When you and your friends visit an instantly personalized site, the partner can use your public Facebook information, which includes your name, profile picture, gender, and connections.”

Put into a real-world example, if you sign-on to Pandora — one of Facebook’s initial partners — the site could automatically dip into your Facebook account and pull your favorite bands from your profile. It could then use that info to build specialized stations for you before you can even say “Selena Gomez.”

The external info-sharing doesn’t stop with you, either: Pandora can also notify anyone on your Facebook friend list if a band they’re listening to happens to appear within your Facebook profile. Yes, your co-workers and other professional contacts will soon be privy to your late-night Miley Cyrus jam sessions.

The same concept applies at other partner sites, which thus far include Yelp and

Facebook Privacy Protection Guide

Prefer not to have your info automatically disclosed? There are five steps you need to take.

1. Head to Facebook’s “Applications and Websites” privacy settings page. Look for the option at the very bottom of the page entitled “Instant Personalization.” Uncheck the “Allow” box, then confirm that you want to opt-out.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

That causes your personal data to be deleted from the partner sites, but it doesn’t stop your Facebook friends from accessing and sharing it in the future. In order to do that, you also need to manually block each site manually by performing the next three steps:

2. Go to the Facebook Docs app page. Click the link that says “Block Application” — located on the left-hand side, toward the top of the page — and then click “Block Docs” on the confirmation box that appears on your screen.

3. Go to the Pandora app page. Repeat the process from step 2 to block the application.

4. Go to the Yelp app page. Repeat the app-blocking process once more.

Once you’ve done that, head on to the next step:

5. Back on the “Applications” privacy settings page, click on the button to edit the settings for “What your friends can share about you.” Make sure all the boxes there are unchecked — unless, of course, you want your friends to be able to publicly share any of those types of information — then click on “Save Changes.”

But Wait, There’s More…

Those five steps will protect your privacy for now. But Facebook may add more autosharing partner sites in the future.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be notified when that happens. But you can keep tabs on this Facebook Help Center page; it lists all the approved partners, so you’ll be able to see if any new ones have been added that may need to be blocked.

Hey, I told you managing this stuff was like a full-time job. And if you think this is bad, just wait till you see what Facebook has planned next.*

In today’s social media-driven society, there are countless apps and websites designed to keep you and your friends—no matter how far away—in touch and up-to-date on each other’s lives. However, none is as all-encompassing and far-reaching as Facebook.

After one scroll on my feed, Facebook seems to know everything about me: my face, my friend’s faces, my preferences, the brands I like, the places I’m interested in traveling to, people I should know … But how?

How Facebook Uses Its Data

In 2007, Facebook allowed third parties who created an app on its platform access to any user’s personal information, such as friend lists, interests and “likes.”

This strategic move, which encouraged people to spend more time on the social media site, catapulted Facebook from 58 million users to over 2 billion. The catch? Many of these apps required access to an incredible amount of data on each user that included location, education, career, date of birth, pictures and more.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

It wasn’t until 2014 that Facebook decided it probably wasn’t the best idea to allow third parties access to boatloads of information on users and their friends. They subsequently restricted this third-party access. But before this point, you could take a personality quiz and essentially hand over not only your personal information, but the information of everyone else in your circle.

By now, you’ve heard of the massive Facebook data breach in which Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm tied to Donald Trump’s election team, compiled over 50 million Facebook profiles’ worth of personal information to use in a software program whose purpose was to predict and influence choices during the election.

“We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles,” Christopher Wylie, who worked with a Cambridge University academic to obtain the data, admitted to the Observer. “And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”

Currently, Facebook apps are only granted access to people who directly sign up for them. That said, those people are likely sharing a lot more information than they realize. Still, people are quickly coming to understand that their personal choices on Facebook can directly, and sometimes negatively, impact others. So that begs the next question: How do you protect yourself?

Update Your Apps Settings Page

Using the small, downward-facing arrow on the upper-right-hand corner of your page, head to your apps setting page on Facebook, where you can manage which apps you’ve given access to your information. Click Settings on the drop-down menu, then choose Apps from the left-hand menu:

How to protect your privacy on facebook

Once you click that link, you’ll see which apps are “logged in with Facebook.” If you don’t recognize one, it’s advisable that you click the “X” that will de-authorize it from your account:

How to protect your privacy on facebookIf you continue to scroll, you’ll see categories that include “Apps, Websites and Plugins,” “Game and App Notifications,” “Apps Others Use” and “Old Versions of Facebook for Mobile.” By clicking the “Edit” button under the “Apps Others Use” heading, you’ll see the privacy settings from apps that your friends use.

This is the feature that Cambridge Analytica profited from. This data includes your date of birth, religious and political views, activities you like and more. Uncheck all the boxes should you feel inclined though, fair warning, Facebook says that keeping them checked will make your friends’ “experience better and more social.”

How to protect your privacy on facebook

Privacy Settings And Tools

To manage which people see your posts, what you get tagged in and other things like how people find and contact you, head to the “Privacy” page, which you can also find in that left-hand menu under “Settings.” For a more in-depth look at what you allow on your timeline, who can see what you’re tagged in and the like, check out “Timeline and Tagging.”

How to protect your privacy on facebook

Delete Your Account

Totally fed up with Facebook? Sick of seeing life updates of people you don’t care about anymore? Think it’s a waste of energy? Then head to your General Account Settings and click “Manage Account.”

Here you’ll find the option to “deactivate” your account, which “will disable your profile and remove your name and photo from most things that you’ve shared on Facebook.” In other words, doing this doesn’t remove any of your data from Facebook’s servers. Your account simply is inactive.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

To actually delete your account, head to this help document conveniently titled, “How do I permanently delete my account?” and follow the process. Yes, it’s a process, and it takes about 90 days, after a two-week period of deactivation, for Facebook to officially delete all your data from the site.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

What are your thoughts on Facebook? Is the possibility of data breaches and misuse of personal information enough to have you delete your account completely?

How to protect your privacy on facebook

Worried about your private information on Facebook? You’re not alone.

Given this week’s Facebook fallout and reports of data breaches, TODAY’s Jeff Rossen has some tips to make sure apps aren’t sharing your private data with the social media network.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

Here's how to protect your personal Facebook data (or delete it for good)

When you download a new app, you’re often asked to create a new account or log in through Facebook. Facebook is easier, but it’s not always the safer option. When you do that, you’re giving the app and Facebook both permission to exchange information about you: basic details including your name, the date and time you visited each app, even details about your computer or phone. They can even see whom you’re friends with.

Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen: Open the Facebook app on your phone, hit that three line button and and go to “settings,” then click “account settings.” Scroll down to “apps,” and that’s where you can see all the apps that are logged in with your Facebook account. To remove the apps from your Facebook account, scroll to the bottom and click “remove app” for every app.

Some people may want to leave Facebook entirely. There are a couple of options to do that: You can deactivate your account through Facebook’s website, which is temporary, and means that people will still be able to see you on Facebook. Or, you can delete your account permanently by clicking here. It can take one month to delete your account and three months for all of your information to be deleted, according to Facebook.

00:11 Dave Kerpen: Oh, Facebook privacy settings, a lot has been said about how to keep safe and how to avoid disaster with Facebook privacy settings. Let’s take a look at exactly how to do this right. So, in the upper right-hand corner, you can click on that privacy icon and you can see three main categories: “Who can see my stuff?”, “Who can contact me?”, and “How do I stop someone from bothering me?” If you click on “Who can see my stuff?” you can set up various filters for the public, or just friends, or certain lists of particular groups of friends to see your posts. You can also see your previous posts as well as how other people view your timeline.

00:56 Kerpen: If you click on “Who can contact me?” you can make it easy for people to contact you or a lot harder for people to contact you. You can allow everyone to friend request you or you can allow only certain people to friend request you. And, of course, if you click on “How do I stop someone from bothering me?” you can actually block people so that they’ll never even see you exist on Facebook. I’ll just block my friend, Andrew, because we just had a fight. Just kidding.

01:23 Kerpen: Now, if you click on “See more settings” you can see the entire list of all possible privacy settings and get into all the details, privacy, timeline and tagging, blocking and notifications. But I think the most important thing to look at when you’re thinking about privacy settings is each of your individual posts. You can actually set privacy settings on every post.

01:49 Kerpen: So, if you’re out partying, you might not want to share that post with your clients. So you might want to set a group of just friends or just close friends to see that. On the other hand, if you’re sharing a link about an article that you want for your clients. “Here’s an amazing article about the tax code.” If you’re an accountant, you might not want your friends to see that. So, you might want to set up a list for just business associates to see that so that you don’t bore your friends and family with your business.

02:30 Kerpen: As long as you manage Facebook privacy settings carefully, you can do a great job of keeping in contact with both your friends and family as well as your business associates.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

Sixteen years, that’s how long Facebook has been around. This means that it has accompanied some of us throughout our teenage years to adulthood. Quite an achievement since websites and services tend to lose popularity over the years and fade out of existence, lingering in the dim, inner recesses of our memories – remember MySpace?

To be frank, though, Facebook’s reign as the social network of choice hasn’t always been rainbows and unicorns. It has had its fair share of controversies, usually, concerning privacy and how it uses the data it gets from its users. That, in turn, raised questions about how to protect users’ data and how it is handled. Regulations such as GDPR can only do so much; users must bear some of the responsibility for protecting their data themselves.

What better time than Facebook’s anniversary to look at how to review your account settings and protect your privacy from prying eyes? One way to do it is use Facebook’s built-in tool, the Privacy Checkup, which will guide you through the basic steps to get your profile under control.

Lock down your profile

It’s great to have an idea of what information others can see about you when they click on your profile. That includes both your personal information and the posts that you share with the world. The good thing is that you can toggle the individual options according to your needs. Strictly speaking, not all of your information needs to be shared with everyone, such as your birthday, education or relationship status.

Some things should be kept close to home. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also secure your friend list. To be sure how your profile looks to the outside world, you can check how a public audience sees it. Go to your profile and then choose the View As option; this will allow you to see it through the lens of the public and you can adjust it accordingly.

Audit your posts

Once you’ve increased the privacy of your personal information and profile, auditing your posts should be your next order of business. You never know who will see that embarrassing moment from ten years ago that you shared and never looked back. You can either scroll through years of posts manually or, in the settings, you can limit who can see your past posts and even your future posts as well.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

Fair warning, though: if you choose to limit your past posts, then the only way to undo it is to change who is allowed to see the posts one-by-one. As for future posts, those can be limited as well, from choosing one of the preselected groups or going a step further and creating a custom list.

Also, curating what you share can help immensely. After all, do you really need to share every tiny detail of your life? Oversharing can help create a fairly comprehensive picture of your habits, which can then be used against you.

Who are your friends, anyway?

Have you ever looked at your friend list on Facebook and stopped to think ask if it were preposterously long? You probably aren’t alone. We’re not saying you should now go on an impromptu deleting spree, but you should probably browse through the list to see how many of these people you actually know.

Although it may sound like a tedious chore, there are many upsides to it. You may delete people you have never spoken to or added at a social gathering and haven’t connected with since, and you may even try to reconnect with old friends. The greatest benefit is that you’ll have tidied up your list and maybe even slimmed it down a bit and will have an idea of who has access to the things you share on your profile.

Facebook photos

Similar to posts, you can edit the privacy settings of your photos, which means deciding who can see the photos and albums that you’ve posted. Unfortunately, if you didn’t add the photo, then you cannot remove it; the same goes for an album: removing and editing privacy settings can only be done by the uploader.

On the other hand, you have the option of untagging yourself from photos, which doesn’t remove the photo, but it removes the association with your profile. You can also turn off the face recognition feature so that Facebook doesn’t automatically recognize you in photos and videos and doesn’t suggest your profile for tagging.

Timeline and tagging

These settings allow you to decide who can see your timeline, post on it or if they can further share the things that you’ve already posted. In short, here you can decide who and how they can interact with your Facebook timeline. This includes posts in which you have been tagged, which again you can set to private or choose your audience.

How to protect your privacy on facebook

One of the features that you should turn on is the Review feature. This allows you to review anything where you’ve been tagged before it makes its way to your timeline, thus allowing you to curate what your friends see about you.

Apps and websites

Facebook is one of the premier options to log into different websites and services. Alternatively, we sometimes use it to participate in competitions, quizzes or games. These sometimes request an exhaustive list of permissions that do not even have to relate to their functions. Whatever the case may be, it isn’t always safe to grant all these permissions to third-party apps, of whose provenance we are uncertain.

Luckily, there is an Apps and Websites section that lists all the apps and websites where you used your Facebook account to log in. There are three sections: Active, Expired and Removed. You can then look into those and manually log out of them and limit the information that you share with them moving forward. That applies to the Expired section as well. Nobody expects you to keep track of every service you have ever used; this tool lifts that burden off your shoulders. Nevertheless, you should check it every now and then to see what permissions you granted to whom; even better, clear the list.

Download your information

How to protect your privacy on facebook

If you ever wondered about the sum of all the information that Facebook has accumulated about you over the years that you have been a using it, wonder no more. You can download a complete copy of the information or only certain types from certain date ranges; the choice is yours. Alternatively, if you don’t feel like downloading gigabytes of data, you can choose the Access Your Information tool. You can use Facebook’s Help Center for a step-by-step tutorial.

After a 16-year reign, it looks like Facebook is here to stay. Auditing your settings from time to time is a prudent choice if you want to keep being an active user. As the saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and you should probably apply this to your online privacy settings as well.