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Ways to ensure your privacy on Facebook

Jul 25, 2012, 8:25 a.m.
Facebook has several fully customizable privacy features built in so you can control exactly who sees exactly what, and there are always new Facebook privacy settings being released.

Facebook is a great way to stay in contact with friends and family, share photos, and much more. But how can you be sure that you're not sharing personal information with anyone who happens to be interested? Thankfully, Facebook has several fully customizable privacy features built in so you can control exactly who sees exactly what, and there are always new Facebook privacy settings being released. While it may take a few minutes to do, it's not difficult to change privacy settings on Facebook if you follow these steps.

Privacy settings -- These can be accessed by clicking the little white arrow on the top right hand corner of Facebook and then choosing "Privacy Settings." Here you can dictate who sees posts on your wall, which photos you're tagged in, who can send you messages and friend requests, and you can even block certain people and applications. If you're concerned about privacy, you want to make sure "Public" isn't chosen on any of the options in this menu. This means anyone can see your settings and personal information. You can choose to allow only your friends to see these things, specific people or groups, or no one at all.

Learn to protect your privacy online

View profile as -- Once you've gone through your privacy settings, go back to your profile page by clicking your name in the top right corner. Next to the button "Activity Log," you'll see a button with a black downward arrow. Click that and choose "View Profile As." Here you can see what your profile looks like to the public or specific people. If something is showing that you want to keep hidden, this is a good way to find out. It's wise to do this regularly just to make sure your personal information is safe.

Edit profile settings -- Next, it's time to edit your profile settings. You can access this by clicking "About" under your profile photo. Your profile contains all kinds of personal information including your birthday, marital status, friends, pages you like, where you live, phone number, email address, etc. At the top right of each box, click the little pencil icon and make sure you adjust the settings so you're only showing the information you want to.

However, just because the public can't see your phone number doesn't mean it's safe in your profile. Here's a wise rule of thumb: If you wouldn't want a perfect stranger to see a certain piece of information, don't put it in your profile, no matter what your privacy settings are. Most of us don't know all of our Facebook friends in real life and may not want them having our phone number or full date of birth. You also have no control over who sees their Facebook page and who might be able to access your information through. When it doubt, leave it out.

Finally, don't forget to protect your password and change it often. If you happen to use Facebook on a different computer or device, make sure that you sign all the way out and close the browser when you're finished. Doing this will ensure your privacy and keep prying eyes from your private life.

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