Guide: Facebook profile privacy – controlling your online presence

By Matt Cornock

One of our lecturers is trialling the use of Facebook with our undergraduates this year. The rationale is to provide a space where student from other institutions can interact, something that cannot be achieved with our VLE due to the locked-down nature of it. In preparation for this, we wanted to ensure that students were prepared and aware of how to restrict information that is on their Facebook profile. Hence, a 10 minute video guide pointing out the locations of Facebook privacy settings.

Video

In this video guide, I will show you some of the key ways that Facebook allows you to restrict your personal information. This advice does however come with a disclaimer that Facebook settings and functionality do change and that you always take responsibility for the things you upload and post online. When in doubt, don’t put it up there.

I accept no responsibility for loss or embarrassment as a result of using this guide. You accept all responsibility for stuff you upload on Facebook!

The video was recorded in November 2011.

Worked example: Restricting your wall

Use the video guide to help you and the instructions below.

You can’t switch off your wall in one go any more, you adjust each post individually to show what is being displayed using the ‘audience selector’ (see above for explanation of the audience selector). To find out where privacy settings and profile editing is on Facebook, watch the video above.

Step 1. Stop others posting to your wall

  • Go to Privacy Settings > How You Connect > Edit Settings
  • Change Who can see wall posts by others on your profile to ‘Only Me’. 
  • Change Who can post on your Wall to ‘Only Me’. 

Step 2. Default setting when you post to your wall

If you are posting from outside Facebook’s web interface, then whatever the default setting is within your Privacy settings will apply. See above.

When you post from Facebook, then the audience selector uses the last setting you used will be the default for the next time you post. You can change this using the audience selector at the bottom of the new post box (see image below).

Facebook screenshot - audience selector at time of posting

Step 3. Bulk changing visibility of public posts on your wall

All posts which are set to ‘public’ can be changed to ‘friends’ with one click. 

  • Go to Privacy Settings > Limit the Audience for Past Posts > Manage Past Post Visibility.
  • Read the guidance. Then click the Limit Old Posts button.
  • Read the warning. Then click Confirm.

Step 4. Changing individual posts

All posts which have ‘friends’ setting need to be changed individually to hide them from friends. Use the audience selector next to each post. 

You can also use the audience selector on wall posts to delete the post (see image below).

Facebook screenshot - the audience selector for a wall post: change audience or delete

Step 5. Hiding a change of personal information

If you want to change your personal information (e.g. education, work, location, relationship status) but don’t want it to be announced on your wall:

Long method

  • Go to the edit profile page and set the audience selector for that element of your profile to be ‘only you’ (see above).
  • Save the settings.
  • Using the edit profile page again, change the personal information on your profile.
  • Save the settings.
  • Then back on the edit profile page again, reset the audience selector to its previous position to make the information available but without the announcement of change. The announcement will still appear on your wall visible to you, but not to others.

Short method (with brief exposure)

  • Change your personal information. 
  • The change will be announced on your wall based on your audience selector setting in your profile.
  • Click the delete icon to remove that post from your wall (see image below).
Facebook screenshot - using the X delete icon on a personal information update

Step 6. Changing how Apps post to your wall 

Some Apps (third-party add ons to Facebook) have rights to post to your wall. You can change App settings:

  • Go to Account Settings, from the small down arrow menu at the very top left.
  • Then choose Apps from the left menu. 
  • Click the Edit link on the right hand side for the App you want to change (see image below).
Facebook screenshot - edit link for App settings

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