Getting to grips with Facebook privacy header image

Published: 26th Oct 2015

Social media is one of the biggest things to come out of the internet age. It allows us to quickly and easily stay in touch with friends and family all over the world, as well as sharing important (and maybe less important) events from your own life.

When it comes to sheer reach, Facebook is the platform where most of your nearest and dearest are likely to have profiles. It is the most popular social media site in the world, and recently reached the major milestone of one billion people using it in a single day.

However, for new users the interface can be a little confusing at first, particularly with regards to privacy. Once you’ve signed up for an account, you’ll need to work how much information you want to put on your profile, which is also known as a wall.

If you follow the link to Privacy Settings, you’ll be able to decide who can see what. Options include Public (visible to everyone), Friends of Friends (someone who is friends with one of your friends but not you can see the information), Friends or Only Me. You can also select custom options, such as only showing to certain groups of friends, or excluding particular people.

You will be able to select different options for different information, as you may not want to publish your phone number to all and sundry, but be OK with sharing your photos with a slightly wider audience.

When making these decisions, be aware that some information (such as your date of birth) can be very useful to fraudsters, so if you want to share this, consider making the day and month public, but not the year. This means people can be reminded when to wish you a happy birthday without publicising private information.

It’s also important to understand the difference between a private message and writing on someone’s wall. By going to someone’s profile page and posting something into the box on it, you are sharing it with both your friends and theirs unless you specify otherwise.

On the other hand, messages sent through the chat or messenger function can only be seen by you and the recipient (or the other members of the chat if you are involved in a group messaging thread).