Facebook Privacy – How to lock down your profile

Not being into the “social” online setting, I’ve managed to avoid having a facebook profile all these years.  However, more and more people have been creating facebook profiles and doing their emails and events through it that I’ve started to get left out of the family and friend loop.  No big deal, I have lots of other things to do.  However, in order to eliminate the Hermit label, I decided to set up a Facebook profile.  Sure, I’ve used the other social sites out there in the past, more as a techie geek to see how they work and less to actually set up anything I use.  Since my intent was to use Facebook, I have a very strict set of requirements.  I have different groups of “friends”.  I have family, i have close friends and I have work friends.  Each one has a certain criteria I want to configure and restrict from different items.  My family I want to share those family photos with.  My close friends I am willing to share tagged photos with and maybe a different set of photos.  My work buddies, well, they just get the basics in case they need to contact me. Everyone else?  I don’t want to share anything with them, they need to add me.

So, It appears that Facebook has these options.  In an effort to document all the settings I did in case the “cloud” goes down and I have to re set up a profile, or more likely, someone else wants to know how to do this, I’ve created this post.

  1. First things first, we need groups.  To set up groups, you need to create lists.  From your home page, after being logged in, you’ll see on the left hand tab the “create” button.  Click on create, then create the groups you want to use.  I created three: Family, Buddies, and Work.  As an fyi, you can have people in more than one list.  In case, for instance, you have family who you like enough to be buddies with.  :)   By the way, I originally called my buddies list, friends, but do to the confusion of them using the term ‘friends’ in other places for your global friend list, i switched to the term ‘buddies’.
  2. Next, you need to categorize your “friends”.  Click on Friends at the top, then under the lists tab, click on Friends.  This will bring up all your friends. Next to each friend you’ll see a dropdown.  Go through each dropdown and categorize your friends.
  3. Now for your privacy settings.  I’ve done them with images to help out…  Privacy Settings, Privacy Search and Privacy Applications
    Facebook Privacy Profile

    Facebook Privacy Profile

    Facebook Privacy Search

    Facebook Privacy Search

    Facebook Privacy Applications

    Facebook Privacy Applications

    As an aside, for applications settings, you can click on the Applications hyperlink on the Application Privacy section “Applications Authorized to access your Information” and customize which groups can see which applications.  As mentioned, i’ve set it up so family can see Flickr, but no one else.  I’ve also set up Google Latitude box on my facebook page and restricted it so only Family can see my location in case I’m abducted, but not Work or Buddies since they’re the ones most likely to have abducted me.  You’ll also notice on the Privacy Settings section is where I restricted the ‘tagged photo’ feature to buddies only as well as how I’ve set it so that ‘only friends and friends of friends can see anything (vs. everyone). This way NO information shows up to the general public.  The reason I set ‘friends of friends’ vs. just friends is that seems like it would be the most appropriate setting to allow friends who I have not found yet to contact me (since they’ll most likely have linked to other friends of mine).

  4. Finally, under Privacy – Profile – Contact Information is where you can restrict what contact information people see about you as well as which emails show up.

Hopefully that’ll help lock down your profile.  One final suggestion is that you should not link your work email address, if you have one, to your facebook profile.  The reason is someone technical to explain, but it involves applications such as xobni (previously mentioned) and their ability to announce the existence of your profile without anyone searching.  If anyone has any additional ideas that I may have missed or any corrections, please leave a comment below.