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From the author of Protecting Your Privacy from Graph Search

Protecting Your Privacy from Graph Search

Because Graph Search works by searching the social network for personal information, it’s a bit of a threat to those who prefer to keep their private information private. By default, Facebook uses every bit of information you enter to feed the Graph Search monster, thus making public all your likes and dislikes in a way you’ve previously not experienced. This may not be a good thing.

Do you really want to show up in the list of results for liberals who like Sarah Palin? Or of chefs who like McDonald’s? Or doctors who smoke? Or men who like Backstreet Boys?

It goes without saying that you probably have a few likes and dislikes that you’d rather not have Facebook connect and exhibit. The bad news is, Graph Search takes information that was previously difficult to find and makes it very, very easy to find. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your privacy from invasive Graph Searches.

Start by going to your Timeline page and click About. This displays your About page, with all sorts of personal information listed. Click the Edit button for any given section; then click the Privacy button for each piece there. Change the default setting from Public and select Only Me instead. This effectively hides the information from Graph Search.

Figure 6 Resetting privacy options for information on your About page.

When you finish doing this, continue scrolling down the About page until you come to those sections for things you like – Music, Movies, TV Shows, and so forth. If you want to hide these likes from Graph Search, click the Edit (pencil) button for a given topic and select Edit Privacy. Click the resulting Privacy button and change the setting to Only Me. (Or if you’re okay with your friends seeing this info, select Friends.) Make a special effort to edit the privacy settings for the Likes section near the bottom of the page.

You can also restrict who can search the status updates and photos you post to Facebook. Click the Privacy (lock) icon in the Facebook toolbar, select Who Can See My Stuff?, and change the Who Can See My Future Posts from Public to Friends. Likewise, change the Privacy settings for any future photo uploads from Public to Friends. This won’t entirely remove your posts from Graph Search but will limit their visibility only to those people on your friends list.

Figure 7 Restrict who can see the status updates you post.

Know, however, that the more information you make private, the less useful Graph Search will be – especially for your friends. Social networks such as Facebook are by nature social, meaning that the more information you share, the more useful they are. If everyone on Facebook makes all their personal information private, Facebook wouldn’t be near as social as it needs to be – and Graph Search wouldn’t return much of anything in its results. The more information you share, the more useful Facebook can be to your friends (and their friends). Share as much information as you’re comfortable with, but if you’re uncomfortable sharing anything, consider leaving Facebook. If you can’t be the least bit social, what’s the point of participating in a social network?

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