Revisiting Facebook Privacy (Again)!


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?

Menu Bar

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  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.

What’s Next?

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!


Facebook Messages You May Have Missed

Sending a message to a friend on Facebook is a handy way to communicate privately.  Your message does not appear on your Facebook Wall or News Feed, or on your friend’s Wall or News Feed, instead it can be found in the Messages folder on the left column of your News Feed.  When someone sends you a message, you should have a white on red counter by the message icon on the top blue menu bar.  You should also receive an email notification about the message (unless you’ve turned this off in your Account settings).

What you may be unaware of, is a subfolder under Messages called Other.  You must click on Messages to be able to see this subfolder.   If you have a message waiting for you in the Other subfolder, you must discover it yourself, by clicking on Other.  I recently missed two important messages within the past few months because I had not checked this subfolder.

If your message privacy is set to Everyone (meaning anyone on Facebook can send you a message), you may find messages waiting for you in the Other messages subfolder.  Typically messages from friends or friends of friends will land in your Messages folder, and messages from anyone else including business pages will land in your Other subfolder.

Your Privacy Settings determine who can send you messages.  To check your settings click on the drop down arrow next Home, click on Privacy Settings, click on Edit Settings next to How You Connect, and you will find “Who can send you Facebook messages?”.  Settings are Everyone, Friends of Friends, or Friends.

Let me know if you find any interesting messages!

Five Basic Facebook Tips

Use Facebook a bit more privately and wisely with these five Facebook tips.

1.  You Can Access Facebook Business Pages even if you don’t have a Facebook Account.  If you are interested in checking out a company or organization’s Facebook page, simply use a search engine and type in the name of the company or organization followed by Facebook.  Chances are that you will find a listing for their Facebook page.  Alternatively if you know their Facebook username e.g.,”username you can directly access their page by typing this into your web browser.  Why do you want to check out a Facebook business page?  You may find events, discounts, special offers, promotions, or news about a company’s products.  You will also find a link to the company’s website on the Info tab if you are looking for additional information.  Many local towns, libraries, restaurants, the news media, and small businesses have Facebook business pages.  Check them out and you may be pleasantly surprised!

2.  You Can Keep A Low Profile on FacebookYou do not have to post a profile picture or post abundant personal information on Facebook. The only information required on Facebook is your sign up information – name, email, gender, birth date, and account password for log in.  Once you have an account your birth date can be hidden by going to Profile, Edit Profile, and selecting “Don’t show my birthday in my profile” or “Show only month & day in my profile” from the drop down under your birth date.

3.  Review Your Privacy Settings Monthly.  As Facebook makes enhancements to features it may also enhance privacy setting options.  Facebook also defaults to opting in rather than opting out.  Be sure there are no new features that you are opted into.  Become a fan of Facebook and Privacy ( to get the latest updates from Facebook on privacy topics, and watch the Facebook privacy videos on that page to learn more about privacy settings.

4.  Hide from Search Engines.  To optimize privacy, make sure that your Facebook profile will not be found by search engines.  Click on Account, Privacy Settings, and Edit your settings from Apps and Websites.   Then click on Edit Settings from Public search.  Facebook will default to “Enable public search” (the box will have a check mark).  Just click on the check mark next to “Disable public search”.  To see how your profile preview would look on a search engine, click on See preview.

5.  Top News vs. Most Recent.  Your News Feed will default to Top News.  This is based upon a Facebook algorithm, and is a subset of your complete News Feed.  Click on Most Recent to see all your News Feed items.  Click on the drop down next to Most Recent for additional News Feed filtering options one of which is Edit Options.  Click on this so that you can filter your News Feed to show posts by “Friends and pages you interact with the most” or “All of your friends and pages”.  If you have been missing posts, it could be because of this setting!



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