A good thing to know
Nancy Crow

United States

#1 Feb 12, 2013
Facebook’s privacy controls are extensive and can be challenging to use. Although using them won’t necessarily stop your friends from passing along to others sensitive information you've entrusted to them, they can help you avoid disclosing more information than you intend to strangers, friends, and family. Here’s a guide to some of the best ways to use Facebook’s privacy controls based on Facebook’s Timeline user interface. For more information, read Facebook & Your Privacy, a special report from our June 2012 issue.
Consider your most private information
Do you really need to identify your employer and relatives or include your religious beliefs and political views in your profile? Before entering such personal information, carefully consider the risks.
Regularly check your exposure
If you’ve never used Facebook’s privacy controls, you may be sharing more information than you intend. Check your security monthly, first by seeing how your Facebook page looks to others and, if needed, reviewing individual privacy settings.
Here’s how to check out what your page looks like to others:
At the top of your Facebook Home page, click on your user name to go to your Timeline page.
Click on the menu to the right of your name and photo, then select View As.
The resulting Timeline shows you what the public can see when viewing your page. To see what your page looks like to a particular Facebook friend, enter that friend’s name in the box.
You may notice some personal profile information, such as your employer, school, or list of Facebook friends, that can be seen by the public (or a friend) but that you’d rather not share. Facebook’s privacy controls let you restrict access to most such information.
How to find Facebook’s privacy controls? From your Home or Timeline page, just open the menu at the top of the page and select Privacy Settings.
Protect basic information
To restrict access to parts of your profile information, such as your birth date, relationship status, family relationships, and employer, click on Update Info in the small box below the Timeline cover photo. That will take you to a page where you can restrict access to those, as well as to your friends list, photos, and Likes.
You can also click on the respective item (for example, Friends, Photos, or Likes) in the row directly beneath the Timeline cover photo. The ensuing links will take you to a page where you can tailor the respective privacy settings item by item.
If you want to restrict access to all of the same profile information, you can also go to the Privacy Settings page by clicking on editing your timeline info in the text near the top of the page.
Know what you cannot protect
Your Facebook name and profile photo remain accessible to everyone on the Web. You can keep others from capturing an image of your face by not having a profile photo or by using an image of something other than your face as your profile photo.
If you use a Timeline cover photo, it's accessible to anyone on the Web.
UnPublic your status updates
If you haven’t ever changed the audience for your status updates, those you’ve already made will have had their audience set to Public. To protect sensitive information you may have posted, you could go through them one by one and selectively restrict the audience for each. But if there are many of them, it’s probably easier, and safer, to change the audience for them all at once to just Friends, and then expand the audience for only those updates that merit wider disclosure.
To protect all past status updates:
From the Privacy Settings page, next to Limit the Audience for Past Posts, click on Manage Past Post Visibility.
When the popup appears, click on Limit Old Posts. Then, when asked, click on Confirm.(Once you confirm, you can’t reverse the process with just one click, but there is a way to change past privacy settings one post at a time.)
To protect future status updates:
If you don’t select an audience with whom to share a status update, it w

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