Tips on Protecting your Identity in Facebook
Facebook has a range of options which allow you to limit who can see your personal information; just taking a few minutes to change your settings should protect you from identity fraud or other unwanted attention.
Adjust Facebook privacy settings to help protect your identity
The default is to make your entry available to all of your friends and networks – which could contain hundreds or thousands of people.
When you first register, just add the basic information about yourself, then click on the ‘Privacy’ option at the top of the screen, adjust the privacy settings and only then add more information to your profile.
You may then wish to review your privacy settings and your profile information as you become more confident in using Facebook.
If you decide to make a picture of yourself available in search listings results, you could consider using an image which isn’t immediately obviously you e.g. a caricature or a photo where you’re obscured slightly.
…and if your main profile picture includes someone else, then make sure you’ve checked with them that they’re happy for you to use it!
Tips on 'Profile' privacy settings:
- Set to “Only My Friends”
- Set “Photos tagged of you" and "Videos tagged of you" to "Only My Friends"
- Contact information: consider setting this to “No-one” (the default is “Only My Friends”)
Tips on 'Search' privacy settings:
- Who can find me in search’ – Default is “all my networks and all of my friends”.
- Only choose “Everyone” if you are willing to let anyone see you are in Facebook.
- Deselect the “Allow my public search listing to be indexed by external search engines”
Think carefully about who you allow to become your friend
Once you have accepted someone as your friend they will be able to access any information about you (including photographs) that you have marked as viewable by your friends.
Share pictures with people only once you’ve accepted them as friends.
Make virtual friends only with people you know – if you have doubts over identity, then double-check before accepting the person as a friend. If still in doubt, don’t accept them.
Remember, just replying to an unknown contact to ask ‘who are you?’ can give the person temporary access to your Facebook profile, depending on the level of privacy settings you have chosen.
You can remove friends at any time should you change your mind about someone.
Use the 'limited friends' option to show a cut-down version of your profile
You can choose to make people 'limited friends'. This means they will only have access to a cut-down version of your profile if you wish.
This can be useful if you have associates who you do not wish to give full friend status to, or feel uncomfortable sharing personal information with.
We are grateful to Cardiff University Information services for allowing us to replicate the content of their web pages offering advice on security and privacy.