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Update: Regain Facebook Privacy

Understanding Facebook Privacy
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Written by Ruben Reyes

We recently posted step-by-step instructions to configure your Facebook privacy settings. Since then Facebook has updated its Privacy Settings section and has made it “easier” for users to control what and how they share information. In this post we provide updated instruction on how to configure your privacy settings.

Before we start there is a simple concept that we need to review. Almost all of the privacy settings are controlled by selecting who can access a certain type of information. Facebook provides the following options:

  • Everyone - This means that anyone with a Facebook account has access. Except for appearing in search results, nothing in your profile should be set to Everyone.
  • Friends of Friends - This means that the people connected to your connections have access. Except for allowing someone to request adding you as a friend, nothing in your profile should be set to Friends of Friends.
  • Friends Only - This is the setting you will be using. The concept is that you have control of who you accept as a friend, and therefore you are supposed to trust that person.
  • Customize - Use this setting if you want to allow access only to a subset of your friends.

Privacy Settings

We will start by changing the privacy settings. Once you log into Facebook look at the upper right area of the page and click on Account. A drop down menu is displayed, where you can click on Privacy Settings.

You can also go directly to

The new Privacy Setting page is displayed. In this page you will find three may areas:

  • Basic Directory Information
  • Sharing on Facebook
  • Applications and Websites

First, start with Basic Directory Information. Click on the "View settings" link.

The new Basic Directory Information page is displayed. Click on the image to the right to see how your settings should look like.

"Search for me on Facebook" and "Send me friend requests" are ok if set to Everyone, but change it to something more restrictive if you want.

Click on Back to Privacy at the top of the page to return to the Privacy Settings page.

Now we will configure the "Sharing on Facebook" settings. This is the most important improvement made by Facebook. Simply click on "Friends Only" and then on "Apply These Settings".

Click on the image to the right to see how the settings should look like once you have changed them.

If you want to set more restrictive settings click on "Customize Settings" to change specific areas.

If you click on the Edit Settings button in the Photo Albums area you will be taken to a page where you can set the privacy level of each photo album. The recommendation is that you set all of them to Friends Only, or Customize.

Now click on the "Edit your Settings" link under the "Applications and Websites" header. This will take you to the "Applications, Games and Websites" page. Click on the image to the right to see how this page looks like.

The first section of this page shows applications that are currently active in your account. Click on "Remove" to select what applications you want to remove. It displays a pop-up window with a list of the applications. You can click on the check boxes to select the applications to remove.

Click on "Remove Selected" to complete the removal of unwanted applications.

Next change the "Game and application activity" to Friends Only.

Continue to "Information available through your friends" and click on "Edit Settings". It will show a pop-up window.

Unselect all check boxes and click on "Save Changes". Click on the image to the right to see how your settings should look like.

Next click on "Edit Settings" in the "Instant Personalization" section. This is one of the new features developed by Facebook to share your information with external websites and provide you with a personalized experience (e.g. advertising).

By default you have been enrolled in this program, so go ahead and uncheck the box.

Facebook will ask you to confirm you are opting out of this program, click on Confirm.

Click on "Back to Privacy". The last section of the page controls whether a public listing of your profile is available for visitors outside of Facebook. With the rest of the settings correctly configured this shouldn't be a problem.

Application Settings

This area of Facebook was not updated and it is still necessary to go to individual applications and make sure they are configured correctly.

Go back to the upper right area of the page, click on Account and then click on Application Settings.

Once you reach the Application Settings page look for the Show drop-down menu and select Authorized. It will show you all the applications that are currently connected to your profile.

You may find that there are a number of applications that you don't remember using. Unfortunately the process by which applications are added to your profile is very subtle and sometime by just following a link on Facebook you add an application.

There are a number of applications that are native to Facebook and that cannot be removed, but go ahead and remove all the applications you don't use or need by clicking on the X buttons at the right.

Once you have cleaned the list of applications you need to click on Edit Settings for each application, to configure the privacy settings for each of them.

Once you click on Edit Settings you will see a small box that contains 3 tabs: Profile, Bookmark and Additional Permissions. First change the privacy setting to Friends Only.

Then click on Additional Permissions and uncheck all the options that may affect your privacy, such as access to your email address or sharing of private information.

Educational Videos

Facebook produced a couple of videos with instructions and more detailed explanation of the privacy settings and new controls available. 


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