[HOWTO] Gain Control over Facebook

Friday, July 18, 2014 @ 5:24 pm

By default, Facebook leaks your data. Luckily, there are some ways to control what your friends see and increase your privacy and security. This article goes through 9 different topics, with easy one-click links so you don’t have to waste time finding the right pages.

1. Profile Pictures are Public by Default

When you upload a new profile picture, they are set as “Public” by default. You’d want to almost always ensure it’s set to “Friends Only” at the very least.

2. Explore the “Custom” Sharing Options

If you don’t want certain friends to see your post, you’ll want to add them under the “Don’t share this with” section under “Custom“.

If you’re tagging friends in your post/picture and don’t want their friends to see it, untick “Friends of tagged“.

3. Change Your Email Address

https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=account&section=email&view

Did you know that you could look almost anyone up on Facebook by pasting their email address in the search bar?

To avoid having people look you up, go to the above link, and assuming your email address is johndoe@gmail.com, click on “Add another email” and enter:

johndoe+anythingyouwanthere@gmail.com (e.g. johndoe+catlover@gmail.com)

Save, then set it as your primary email, then remove your johndoe@gmail.com email.

What this does is it will make it virtually impossible for anyone to look you up. They will need to know what your exact email address is (e.g. johndoe+anythingyouwanthere@gmail.com)

While you’re on this page, you can also untick “Allow friends to include my email address in Download Your Information” if you wish.

NOTE: this will only work with Gmail/Google Apps. If you use another email provider, you may want to change your email address on Facebook to a lesser known email address of yours.

4. Enable Login Approvals

https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=security&section=approvals&view

Enabling this option will make it so even if someone has your login information, they will need to also enter a unique 6-digit number that changes every minute.

Enable “Login Approvals“, then you’ll be asked to set up your mobile device with a code generator.

The next time you log in, you’ll see this after you enter your email address and password:

5. Manage Your Apps Settings

https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications

  • Apps you use“: if you don’t want to share your app activities with friends, in each app, change “Visibility of app” to “Only Me“. Here you can also choose to set a Custom sharing option (see #2 above).
  • Apps others use“: untick all (especially if you don’t play any Facebook games).
  • Instant personalization“: set to Off.

6. Opt Out of Ads

https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=ads

Opt out of everything.

7. Cover Photos are Always Public

Cover photos are always public and cannot be set to “Friends Only”. This means any stranger can see who has liked your cover photo(s) and any comments.

If this makes you uncomfortable, don’t have any cover photos.

8. Go through your Privacy Settings

https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy&section=composer&view

Go through each setting and set each to what you’re comfortable with.

9. Control What You’re Tagged In

To have control over having photos/statuses you’re tagged in shown on your profile for your friends to see:

  1. Go to https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=timeline&section=review&view
  2. Enable the option
  3. Go to https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=timeline&section=tagreview&view
  4. Enable the option

Next time you’re tagged in something, you will have the option to add it to your timeline. By default any new tags will be hidden from your friends.

On this page, you can also control other timeline settings such as who can post on it.