First, choose a default privacy level by clicking the appropriate radio button. This setting will apply to everything posted on your profile, unless otherwise specified. There are three options: Public, Friends, and Custom. Custom provides the best control, so choose that. In the dialogue box that opens, choose who can view your profile: Friends, Friends of Friends, Specific People or Lists or Only Me (meaning only yourself). To exclude specific people from your posts, type their names into the box labelled ‘Hide this from’.
If you have lots of Facebook friends, a more efficient way to manage privacy is to set up custom ‘lists’. Click the Facebook logo to return to your Facebook homepage then click the Lists heading in the left-hand column. Click the Create a list button to make a new list, type a name for it (eg ‘Co-workers’) then click Create list, then add people by typing in their names. Make as many lists as needed. Now you can show content to people based on which list they’re in, using the process outlined in Step 2.
Now return to the Privacy Settings page and click the Edit Settings link next to How You Connect. A dialogue box will open, displaying a series of options including ‘Who can send you Facebook messages?’ and ‘Who can post on your Wall?’. Each question has a dropdown menu of options next to it. These range from Everyone to Friends, Custom and Only Me. Select the options you want and click Done.
Next, manage tags by clicking Edit Settings next to How Tags Work. Again, click on the arrows next to each option to choose the settings you want. Here, you can choose whether to allow friends to add tags to your photographs or to tag you in their pictures. You can also specify who sees images in which you’ve been tagged, either by using the default options or by selecting from the lists created in Step 3. Click Done to save the settings.
Back on the Privacy Settings page, manage how other websites use your Facebook data. Click on Edit Settings next to the Apps and Websites heading to see what site has access to your Facebook account. If you don’t recognise or no longer want a particular item, then revoke access by clicking Remove and then clicking on the x button next to the offender’s title. On the same page, it’s possible to prevent friends from using your data on other sites – click the Edit Settings link next to ‘How people bring your info to apps they use’. This is one of Facebook’s most important and yet little-known privacy options. Now return to the Privacy Settings page.
The chosen privacy settings affect future posts only. To change the privacy settings relating to existing information, click the Manage Past Post Visibility link alongside the Limit the Audience for Past Posts heading. Click the Limit Old Posts button and anything that was publicly visible will now be visible only to your friends. However, be aware that if anyone else is tagged in these posts, their friends may also be able to see them.
The final privacy option (Blocked People and Apps) allows you to block some people, Facebook apps and invitations entirely. Click the Manage Blocking link next to this heading and type the names of the people you want to block (if you really don’t want to get any more Farmville invitations, this is the place to put the block in place). You can even block a user completely by typing their name or email address and clicking Block.
It’s possible to see how your Facebook profile looks from someone else’s perspective, which is useful for checking your privacy levels. To do this, click your profile name at the top right and click the View As button. Type in the name of a friend and a preview of your profile, as it appears to them, will be displayed. (You can also see what your public profile looks like by clicking on the ‘public’ link.)