The 8 Most Important Ways to Protect Your Identity and Privacy on Facebook: #4

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Control how the world sees you via Facebook.

It seems to always make the news when someone loses a job over something they did on Facebook. What we don’t hear about is the countless jobs, opportunities and relationships that may have been lost because of Facebook activity.

Even if you have nothing to hide and no opportunities to lose, you still have to recognize that you will be judged by how the world sees you on Facebook. This brief guide will show you in 4 quick steps how to control your Facebook identity.

1. See how the world sees your Facebook profile.

Go to Account > Privacy Settings

Under “Connecting on Facebook” click “View Settings”

In the upper right corner, click on the Preview My Profile button


This is how most of the world sees you. If you don’t like what you see, go back and adjust your privacy settings. If you’re okay with what you see, continue on.

2. Decide if you want your Facebook profile to show up in search engines.

Depending how unique your name is, your Facebook page could show up at the top of a Google search for you. If you’re fine with how your profile represents you to all past and potential friends, family and employers, you don’t need to do anything. If you’d rather not be found on Facebook, do the following:

Go back to Account > Privacy Settings

Under “Apps and Websites”, click “Edit your settings”


At the bottom, next to “Public search”, click the Edit Settings button.


Uncheck the box next to “Enable public search”

Note the message there that explains your information may still be accessible on some search engines for a while.

3. Decide who can see photos you’re tagged in.

Facebook wants to tag you in as many photos as possible. Why? They know they became the world’s biggest social network by becoming the world’s biggest photo sharing site. The more photos, you’re in, the more you use Facebook. But allowing others to tag you in photos allows others to control your identity. You can be misidentified or shown in situations that you do not want made public. And these photos can end up representing you, as Facebook displays the last 5 pictures in a row on top of your profile.

You can always un-tag yourself from photos one-by-one, but I suggest that you adjust this setting to only allow friends to tag you in photos. Personally, I only allow myself to tag me in photos, which is the surest way to control my identity.

To adjust who can tag you in photos, go to Account > Privacy Settings

Under “Sharing on Facebook”, click “Customize settings”

In the “Things others share” section next to “Photos and videos you’re tagged in” click Edit Settings


Next to “Who can see photos and videos I’m tagged in” select Friends Only

Or for increased protection, select Customize then under “Make this visible to” select Only Me

4. Decide if you want Facebook to “Suggest photos of me to friends”.
As a Facebook user, you have to be aware that you will most likely be opted in to any new features they offer. This policy is controversial but it’s also part of the price of using Facebook to communicate with friends. Facebook’s “Suggest photos of me to friends” is an especially creepy new feature since it employs facial recognition. It’s been available in the United States since 2010 and will roll out across the globe in 2011. You should be aware that Facebook may already be identifying you in your friends pictures to make it easier for you to be tagged.

You may want to turn off this feature simply because it is so new that it is difficult to imagine the ways it can be used or misinterpreted. Or you may just not like the idea of your identity being determined by a machine. Here’s how to turn it off.

go to Account > Privacy Settings

Under “Sharing on Facebook”, click “Customize settings”

In the “Things others share”, next to “Suggest photos of me to friends” click on Edit Settings

Next to “Suggest photos of me to friends” select Disabled

The 8 Most Important Ways to Protect Your Identity and Privacy on Facebook

  1. Unless you have a good reason not to, use the “Friends Only” privacy setting.
  2. Turn on Secure Browsing.
  3. Secure your account.
  4. Control how the world sees you via Facebook.
  5. Turn off Instant Personalization and audit your apps.
  6. Watch where you click.
  7. Decide if you want your name and image to appear in Facebook ads.
  8. Start using Facebook lists.
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