You’re More Exposed Than You Think

Facebook has changed its policies that are supposed to protect your privacy—again. This year’s changes are intended to make the policies easier to understand, but instead they have left many Facebook users confused and frustrated.

Many users don’t even bother to manage privacy settings. If you are among them, an employer, a remote ­acquaintance or a total stranger might be able to see things intended for only your close friends. Think you’re safe because you never post anything potentially embarrassing? In some cases, visitors to your page might be able to see embarrassing things that your friends posted about you.

To find and adjust the following important but often overlooked privacy settings and safeguards, click the lock icon at the top of your Facebook home page and select “See More Settings”…

• Posts by friends. If one of your Facebook friends posts a picture that includes your image or posts a message that mentions you, that could appear on your Facebook timeline—even if it’s something embarrassing that you would never have posted yourself.

What to do: Click “Timeline and Tagging,” then set “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline?” to “Enabled.” Also set “Who can post on your timeline?” to “Only Me.” With these settings, your friends’ posts cannot appear on your timeline unless you have given your approval.

• Liked businesses. People might be able to see that you have “liked” a business when they view online ads from that business or visit its web page. This could make it appear that you have endorsed the business even if you really only “liked” it because it offered you a discount for doing so. It even could cost you a job if a potential employer learns that you “liked” its competitor.

What to do: In the “Ads and Friends” section, click “Ads,” then “Edit.” Set “Pair my social actions with ads for…” to “No One” and click “Save Changes.”

• Search-engine access. Simply by typing your name into a search engine, anyone might be able to stumble upon your Facebook page—and potentially view information from your page, such as your friends list and your interests.

What to do: Click “Privacy,” then set “Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?” to “No.” People still will be able to view components of your Facebook page that you have set to “Public,” but only if they search for your name in Facebook. Someone using a search engine to locate professional information about you, for example, won’t stumble across your private ­information.

• Old posts. If you have used Facebook for years, there might be old posts or photos kicking around on your timeline that seemed harmless at the time but that you now would prefer to keep private. For example, a post about your political views or a photo of you drinking with friends might not be something you want potential employers or other organizations to see.

What to do: If you don’t want to go back through each old post, click ­“Privacy,” then “Limit Past Posts” under “Who can see my stuff,” followed by “Limit Old Posts.” Doing this restricts access to existing posts to only your Facebook friends. You still will be able to decide who can see new posts on a post-by-post basis.

• Unauthorized logins. You can make it much more difficult for someone who has stolen your password to log into your Facebook account.

What to do: Click “Security,” then “Login Approvals” and follow the ­directions. Once “Login Approvals” are set up, Facebook will send a text message containing a security code to your mobile phone when you try to access your account from a computer or ­mobile device that you have not previously used to access Facebook. You will have to enter this code to continue.

• What apps see about you…and what other people see about your apps. The games and other apps that you use on Facebook could be accessing information about you from your Facebook account. But that’s not all—the apps that your Facebook friends use might be accessing this information as well. And your Facebook friends…their friends…and even total strangers might be able to see which apps and games you use.

What to do: Click “Apps,” and you will see a list of the Facebook apps that you have signed up for. Beneath each listing will be a lock icon and a quick description of who can see that you use the app or game. If you wish to keep your use of a certain app private, click on the app icon and change “App Visibility” to “Only Me.” Clicking this app icon also will show what information from your Facebook page the app can access. If one of your apps accesses information that you prefer to keep private—your birthday, for example—click the “X” next to the app icon to remove the app.

Next, go to the section of the “Apps Settings” page labeled “Apps Others Use” and click “Edit.” Uncheck boxes next to any information that you do not wish to share with your friends’ apps.

• See what they see. Not certain how your Facebook page looks to your friends and others? There’s a way to check.

What to do: Click “Timeline and Tagging” and then “Review what other people see on your timeline/View As.” Facebook will display your page as the public sees it. You also can enter the name of one of your Facebook friends into the black bar near the top of the screen to see how your page appears to this person.