Facebook timeline privacy/security: protect your account and identity (2/2)

In our last post (part 1 of 2), we dove into Facebook timeline privacy and security, prompted by the universal imposition of the timeline view that is currently under way on the world’s largest social network. In this second part, we continue reviewing our Facebook timeline from other people’s perspective, using a tool called View As :

Timeline View As

You access the View As tool via the gear wheel icon below your cover photo, as described in this   help screen:

Notice the context menu for this as well. Here, we find a way to take a look at how things might appear to a friend, coworker, or whomever. This is a nice sanity check to see if all your content has the viewing audience you would prefer, in other words, yet another way to make sure you have the right audience for your content.

Past items on Timeline

Next we look at how past items are displayed. We are told:

Notice that items in the past have been essentially frozen in the context they were when originally posted. It’s still worth using the View As feature to double-check and see if everything is as you expect from other people’s point-of-view: better safe than sorry.

All past items visibility

If you decide you want to restrict all your past items to only friends, there’s a way to do that:

So you could ratchet down items that you no longer want to be publicly visible, items that you should consider reviewing anyway. If, however, you have a mix of content, some that you want to be shared to a wider audience, using this feature is irreversible, so ratchet down wisely. On the other hand, you can review your past items and set their context individually. Still, if you want a quick way to restrict visibility, this tool will help you keep things much more private.

Who can see your friend?

If you want to restrict who can see your list of friends, there are tips on how to do that:

Here, it’s a good idea to think about restricting visibility into your list of Friends, especially if you have Friends who really aren’t interested in sharing their friend preferences widely. Here, the adage that you are known by the company you keep can turn into a valuable tool for those trying to evaluate you in terms of whom you know, for better or worse. Regardless of viewers’ intentions, in terms of privacy, less is more, so you might want to restrict this.

Block people from posting on your timeline

Suppose you have certain circles of friends that you don’t fully trust to resist post unsavory items on your timeline, here’s how you control that:

By setting this feature to No One , you severely restrict the ability of less-than-honorable would-be posters from upsetting your timeline. Note also the ability to restrict them from seeing your posts at all:

This is a still further way of restricting their visibility, which may apply, depending on your situation.

Timeline wrap-up

As you can see, understanding the context of your timeline can seem a bit daunting. But remember, having your private information accidentally creep out onto the Internet can often mean you won’t get it back, which is much tougher to live with, so it may pay to take the time to set your Timeline sharing as you would like it. And remember, if you really want privacy, either ratchet down some of the settings as described above, or better yet, don’t post things you don’t want to be visible in the first place. There are many examples of people losing jobs and opportunities, or messing up relationships in significant ways, by missing a setting or two on Facebook content sharing, so don’t let it happen to you, it’s much more painful and tough to fix after the fact.

Author Cameron Camp, ESET

  • Vicki

    Thank you for helping people protect their accounts and identities on Facebook.  Even though I closed my account almost 8 or 9 months ago, I still like reading about Facebook because it is such a scourge as far as social sites go and Google+ is quickly becoming as bad.  I never set up a Google+ account, but a friend of mine decided to include me in her circle of friends and no matter what I do, I can't figure out how to get my account closed.  I hate these social sites and everything that goes with them and it's not right that someone can force you to join by just including you as a friend.  I'm also upset that she did this because she knows how much I distrust Facebook, but she did it anyway.  Now, it's just a mess trying to get untangled from Google+.  I always love your articles, Cameron, and I have so much catching up to do by reading all my Eset Threat Blogs, but ill health and now a friend who was involved in a serious accident have kept me from my computer for way too long.  Thank you and your team at ESET for all you do for us.

    • David Harley

      Hi, Vicky. As far as I remember, there’s an option in G+ to share a post with people who don’t have an account using the email, though I seem somehow to have disabled it, or it’s disappeared. But it doesn’t create an account for them. If your friend stops using it or removes you from her circles, you shouldn’t get the email notifications AFAIK.

  • CaosNside

    I tried to protect my timeline cover picture but it seems impossible, can you guys help me to protect it from non friends (general public)?

    • David Harley

      I don’t think that’s possible. Put up a disposable, neutral image and delete any images you don’t want public.

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