10 Essentials for Protecting Privacy on Facebook

Privacy, Kids & Facebook  

“How do I teach my kid how to protect their privacy and online image on Facebook when I don’t understand all the settings?

With a kid eager to start posting, trying to figure out the right Facebook settings can be overwhelming. So, if you have a kid breathing down your neck, here is a quick guide to the 10 essential Facebook privacy tools.

 1) Limit Friends.

Technically, this is not a privacy setting but it is one of the most powerful privacy tools on Facebook. Facebook does eliminate the “everyone” setting for kids under 18. For this age group, they can only choose to share with “friends of friends” not “everyone”. However, if a kid has 300 friends and their friends have 300 friends, “friends of friends” are a lot of strangers and acquaintances. Depending on a kid’s age, parents should set a limit on the number and type of friends. Parents may want to start with only people they know in real life and a limit of 150.

2) Share the Right Information with the Right People

Facebook allows users to select a different audience for each post. The audience selector is in the right hand corner. Kids should remember their default audience is the same as their last post. So if they choose “friends” for one post, all subsequent posts will be “friends” unless they change it.

Now is also a great time to remind kids that even with privacy settings, pictures and posts can be downloaded and shared. Kids should always think before they share.

3) Limit  their Public Information

Most kids and parents will want to limit the information on their profile. If they go to their profile page and select “About”, they can select an audience for each section. Kids can and should leave most contact information blank. For required information, like email addresses, they can keep it private by selecting “no one”.

4) Turn off Public Search

Kids should keep public search off. This will limit the ability for anyone to find them using Google or another search engine. Turning off public search is in the privacy settings under Apps.

Older teens, who are looking for a job or applying to college, may want to enable this feature. They should first review their Timeline and make sure all information is resume appropriate.

5) Do not share Location

For kids under 18, the location feature is turned off by default. Kids can choose to add location by clicking on “Place”. This will add the location to a post or picture. Kids should not add location and leave this feature off. 

6) Review all tags

For kids under 18, “Tag Review” is automatically turned on. Kids will be asked to approve or reject any tag added to a photo or post. Remember, rejecting a tag does not remove the picture. The picture will still appear but their name will not be associated with the picture.

7) Limit Sharing in Facebook Apps

Kids should not enable automatic sharing. They can play with these apps without sharing everything the read, watch or listen to. Under app settings, kids can edit each individual app’s setting. If the change post on your behalf to “Only Me”, kid’s activity will only be shared with themselves.

Parents and kids should be aware that many of these apps do collect personal information such as name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends, and any other public information. These apps operate separately from Facebook. The app’s privacy policy governs the use of this data not Facebook’s policy.

8) Make sure it all works

After enabling the settings, they can verify they are sharing the right information by reviewing their timeline. On their profile page, they can click on the cog on the right hand side and choose “View As…”

Now, they can see what their profile looks like to the general public. They can also select a friend to see what it looks like to them.

9) Don’t forget mobile

Kids accessing Facebook from the mobile site can still set their privacy settings. To edit  privacy settings, go to the “Privacy Settings” page located in Settings. Most of the same controls that are on the full site are available on the mobile site.

10) Always Log Out

Finally, closing the window does not turn off Facebook. The next person who sits down at the computer can reopen the window and access their Facebook profile. Kids should always remember to Log Out by selecting the upside down triangle and choosing Log Out.