How to stay safe on Facebook
Now that you have set up your new Facebook profile it is time to think about who you want to share information with. This guide will help you understand all of Facebook's privacy features and help you control what you share and what you dont share.
Understanding privacy before you sign up to Facebook
Remember, while you can choose how much information you share on Facebook, and how widely you share it, your friends may have already given your email address as part of 'find my friends'. Before you even sign up to Facebook, friends may have posted pictures of you, mentioned you in comments, and linked to things you have posted across other platforms. Although this information may be about you it doesn't belong to you, but to the people who have shared information about you.
When you sign up to Facebook you will need your name, email address, or phone number. Facebook will also ask you what your date of birth is and they will ask you to fill the rest of your profile such as previous schools and employment history. You don't have to fill in these additional options and can choose to leave this blank. You can also choose to privatise your age. Remember, the less information you give to Facebook the harder it is for friends to find you. On Facebook, your name, profile and cover photos, gender, the networks you belong to and your user name are always available to anyone who wants to see them or does a search either on Facebook or through a search engine.
You cannot change this, but you can restrict your posts (these are pieces of information, jokes, events and shared links that you choose to put on your timeline) and your photos to different audiences. Remember if you choose Public everyone can see what you are talking about including people you do not know!
Step 1: Managing privacy
To manage your privacy click on the arrow next to the question mark at the top of your Facebook page. Next click on Settings.
The following window will open. Note this is also where you will find how to change your security.
Step 2: Customising your privacy and choosing who you share personal information with
Your first decision is on who you would like to share your posts with. There are several options on who can see what you put there. The default setting is Friends – this, of course, refers to your Facebook friends. You also have the option to exclude specific people who are in the friends list but you may not know so well and don’t want to share certain things with.
Many of us know people via our other friends and the Friends of Friends allows us to share posts with them too. If you would like to only share with a select handful of people then select Specific Friends – a list of all your friends will appear and you can click on the ones that you want to share with.
Only Me - this option is for when you have written something but may not want to share it immediately. Once you are ready it is easy to change the setting to one of the Friends options.
Step 4: Blocking and restricting
There is also the option to Block people. Sometimes used if, for instance, you have a friend who may be prone to inappropriate comments or who you no longer wish to share any parts of your life with. There are many options with the most common being “Block users” where you are able to type in either their Facebook name or their email address and then click block. This option means that they will see nothing that you post nor will they have access to your page and they can’t contact you through chat or tag you in posts.
Manage blocking also gives you the option to decide who is allowed to send you messages, chat with you and allows you to stop pages (see our guide Using Chat or Messenger on Facebook) from contacting you
Step 6: Privacy check up on IPhone
A Privacy “check up” is available in both computer and mobile app versions at any time that you might want to reassure yourself that you are taking the right precautions.
To access this on an iPhone first open the Facebook app and click on the three lines in the bottom right hand corner. This will give you access to a variety of details regarding shortcuts and settings. Under settings you will see Privacy Shortcuts – click on this
Facebook will now show you what information is held and who can see it. Don’t forget that you are not only protecting yourself from things like identity theft but also your friends so please look at your settings very carefully. For instance, if your friends list is set to ‘Friends’ hackers and scammers might use this to create a cloned profile and then target everyone on that your friends list. If the scammer doesn’t know who you are friends with, then it’s virtually impossible for them to do this.
The more settings you have set to “Only Me” the more secure you will be. Your real friends will already know how to get in touch with you (or when your birthday is).
Step 7: App privacy
Click on the drop down menus to change the privacy of your Facebook apps
Remember only share your information with people you know, if you are no longer using an app or you signed up for it accidentally then delete it from your profile.
Step 8: Turn of adverts based on data from partners
If you visit the ad preferences page and click on 'Ad Settings' you can turn off adverts based on data from external websites that collect information about you when you search for things online.
You can also turn off 'Ads that include your social actions' to stop Facebook from using your actions (signing up for events, using apps, making recommendations and so on) to promote them to your friends.
We hope this guide has helped you to learn how the privacy settings work on Facebook, why don't you check out our other Facebook guides in the Next Steps links below
This guide was last updated on 26/03/2019