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Controlling Your Privacy on Facebook

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Michael Miller, author of My Facebook for Seniors, 2nd Edition, shows you how to configure Facebook's privacy settings and keep everyone from seeing everything you post.
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Facebook is a social network, and being social means sharing one's personal information with others. Facebook likes for you to share your personal information; it increases your interaction with the site.

The thing is, you might not want to share all your personal information with everyone on Facebook. You might want to share some information with only some people—and even then, just some of the time.

How do you make Facebook a little less social—and more private? It's all a matter of configuring Facebook's various privacy settings.

Who Can See What?

There are various places within Facebook in which you can determine who can see the messages and pictures you post. You can set global privacy defaults as well as privacy for each individual post.

Before we get into configuring all these privacy settings, it helps to know what options you have—that is, which groups of people see what you post. In all its various privacy configurations, Facebook offers the following options:

  • Public. Everyone on Facebook can see it. Everyone. All billion-plus members.
  • Friends. Just the people in your friends list.
  • Friends Except Acquaintances. Just the closest people on your friends list. (Not every user will see this option; it's only there if you have a relatively large friends list.)
  • Only Me. No one can see it, just you. (This is a good option for your contact information, but not so much for posts and pictures—why post something no one can see?)
  • Specific friends lists. If you've created one or more friends lists, you can opt to send posts only to members of selected lists.
  • Custom. You can indicate specific people who can or can't see your posts. This is good if you want to send a post to only a few select people, or if there are people (such as family members or your boss) who you don't want to see specific things.

Which option you select depends on just how private or public you want your posts to be. Obviously, the Friends option is more private than the Public option.

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