May 26, 2010 | By Kurt Opsahl

How to Get More Privacy From Facebook's New Privacy Controls

Today, Facebook announced new privacy controls and settings in response to the tremendous public outcry over its April changes. Here we explain step-by-step how to take advantage of the new settings and maximize your privacy on Facebook.

This is important because you must take affirmative steps to adjust your settings in order to take full advantage of the revised privacy practices. While some information, such as your name, profile picture and gender, will remain publicly available, these steps are designed to provide as much privacy as Facebook's new system allows. Please enjoy our video, which goes through each of the steps detailed below.

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Step by Step to Maximize Privacy

First, log in to Facebook. Click on the "Account" pull down menu in the top right corner, and select "Privacy Settings." Facebook is rolling out these changes gradually, and not all users will have the new options right away. If you see "Choose Your Privacy Settings" on the top of the privacy settings page, then congratulations, you have the new privacy options. Otherwise, you will have to wait until the rollout reaches you. In the interim, you can follow our previous instructions to opt-out of Instant Personalization.

Basic Directory Information

Start with the Basic Directory Information. Click on "View Settings" at the end of the second line.

The Basic Directory Settings control how your friends, exes, enemies, government agents and everyone else might find you on Facebook. To lock down your account, set all of these to the maximum privacy available — Friends Only, except for "Send me friend requests," which must be Friends of Friends or higher. Note that even if you select Friends Only for the "See my friend list," setting, "[your] friend list is always available to applications and your connections to friends may be visible elsewhere." Click on Back to Privacy when you are done.

Sharing on Facebook

Next, you will need to set your Sharing on Facebook preferences. To maximize privacy, click on the Friends Only tab, which will make the all available settings switch to Friends Only with one more click of the "Apply These Settings" confirmation button. Facebook promises to keep these settings sticky, so that future changes will default to the privacy level you select here. However, many users will want to customize to reflect their individual tastes. If you customize, the default for future features will be Facebook's recommended setting.

To customize, click on "Customize settings." This brings up a new page, where the setting for each element of your profile can be tuned individually. You should review these settings, and modify any that you would like to share more widely than Friends Only.

At the bottom of the first section, you will see another link, "Edit album privacy for existing photos." Click this to modify your photo settings on an album-by-album basis.

Click the back button in your browser to return to the customization page, and complete your review. When finished, click Back to Privacy to return the main page.

Applications and Websites

Click on "Edit your settings" under Applications and Websites, in the lower left region of the Privacy page. This brings you to the application page, which has several submenus. First, check your "Game and application activity" setting, which should be Friends Only if you've followed the instructions so far.

Next, to control what happens to your information when your friends sign up for an app or website, click the first Edit Settings button. Uncheck all the boxes that show up in the dialog box. Note that "your name, profile picture, gender, networks and user ID (along with any other information you've set to everyone) is available to friends' applications unless you turn off platform applications and websites." Save changes and click Okay.

The next setting controls Instant Personalization, the controversial program by which your information is shared with Yelp, Pandora and Microsoft by default. To opt out, click "Edit Settings." Scroll to the bottom and deselect the check box. Click Confirm. Click Back to Applications.

Public search sets when search engines like Bing or Google can find your on Facebook. "Edit Settings" brings up a new page. If you have followed these instructions, "Enable public search" should be off already. After confirming that public search is not enabled, click Back to Applications.

Even with these settings, Platform applications can still see the information Facebook deems public — name, profile picture, gender, etc — even if you deselected everything in the "Info accessible through your friends" control. To more fully protect your information, you can choose to turn off all platform applications. However, the consequence is that you cannot use any platform applications, and you may lose data held by apps that you delete. There is currently no option to block all applications except the ones you choose. If you want the most protection and do not want to continue to use any Facebook apps, click on "Turn off all platform applications." You will see the apps that you will lose, and must select all of them before you can click the button to Turn Off Platform.

Congratulations, you've now maximized your privacy settings on Facebook. If you have any trouble following these instructions, please contact Facebook's technical support. And if you find this tutorial to be useful, consider supporting our work to help protect your privacy online.


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