Facebook has always been an easy way to accidentally expose yourself to unwanted privacy breaches, however with the new Facebook Graph Search it’s even easier to get stung. You might think you’ve locked down your account very well, only to find that things that you’d forgotten all about are now embarrassing you.
It doesn’t even matter if you have enemies or not – all it takes is for someone to come up with the right search term and your secrets could all come out. This might be via a clever prankster, a vindictive ex, or a careful HR person – you never know who is evaluating you based on your Facebook profile and what they can learn from it.
Today we’ll look at a few things you can do to lock down your account just a bit further. Plus, we’ll also discuss a little about why these settings are important these days. The more you know, the better protected you are. Most importantly today is to ensure your Facebook “likes” are adequately private. You’ll see exactly why soon.
Look After Your Facebook Privacy Generally
Here at MakeUseOf, we constantly strive to provide you with the best advice about looking after your privacy on Facebook. Things change often, so it’s a bit of a game of cat and mouse at times. However, there are plenty of articles and guides we’ve written which offer timeless good advice about ensuring you maintain your Facebook privacy. Very recently, we wrote a specific guide to preparing your Facebook account privacy settings for Facebook Graph Search.
Even if you think you know all there is to know, take a look and make sure. There are plenty of privacy settings that used to be difficult or impossible to hide which are now very important to check.
Your Embarrassing Facebook Likes
So, you entered a competition or you liked a company so you could get news of cheap deals. So what, right? Well, sadly the reason behind your “like” isn’t always clear to the person who sees it. What if your boss notices you’ve “liked” the competition? Will they understand? What if your friends see it and think you’re a sellout?
What’s even worse than these casual misunderstandings are the “likes” that really give away who you are at heart. You know, the part of you that’s passionate about a particular cause, sexual preference or religion which you wouldn’t normally harp on about in front of workmates and family simply because it would start debates which never end well. While you may not be embarrassed by them, it may still be wise to keep them out of the public eye just in case.
Another set of embarrassing “likes” are the ones that give away things you used to like and no longer care for. Take for instance, the thought that a friend may search for “Married friends who like OKCupid”. Despite the fact that you may have “liked” the page several years ago when you were single and available, the fact that your face shows up in the Facebook search results makes you look like you’re currently playing the field. This is a misunderstanding that most people would quite happily avoid.
Don’t forget that your “likes” stretch across photos, images, random posts by friends or pages and more. What sorts of conclusions will people draw when they can easily see all the images you like?
Suggested Posts – Another Great Reason To Hide Facebook Likes
Have you seen Facebook’s “Suggested Posts” in your timeline before? What you may not know is that these pages are generated by the “likes” of your friends, who may have liked the page at any point since the beginning of Facebook. Conversely, what this means is that any page you’ve ever liked may make its way into your friends’ timelines with a photo of your face endorsing it. Do you even know what pages you liked on Facebook three years ago?
How To Hide Your Facebook Likes
So now we get to the important step of actually hiding your Facebook likes, which really isn’t that hard. You can easily see all of your “likes” on one sub-page of your timeline.
At the top of this page, on the right-hand side is an “Edit” button. From here, you can choose the privacy setting for each category of pages you have liked. Remember that you can set the privacy to “Only Me” or use custom settings, which let you add a whitelist and a blacklist of people either by using names or by using friends lists. This is the best way to ensure your general “like” privacy settings are exactly as you expect.
Now, you may also want to remove some entries entirely from Facebook Search. Just take a quick look at everything listed and click the x in the corner of anything that shouldn’t be there. Don’t forget that if you’ve ever been caught by a Facebook scam that you may have strange pages in your likes that you never willingly liked.
If you want to leave a modestly embarrassing “like” listed, but hide it from people, there is a way to do it. Set one of the categories to “Only Me“, then move the embarrassing “like” to that category, even if it doesn’t seem like it makes sense there.
Don’t forget to click on “Done Editing” at the top before you leave the page!
Try A SimpleWash
If you think your profile is okay, or you just can’t face the idea of going through every single Facebook update you’ve ever made, there are some great tools to help you clean things up. One of these is really worth trying out: SimpleWash (used to be FaceWash, but now covers Twitter also). The service scans all of your updates and reports on whether or not it deems them to be “clean”. This includes updates you’ve made, photos you’ve uploaded, posts and photos you’ve been tagged in and more.
Obviously, SimpleWash may have a different idea of what needs cleaning up to you, but at least you’ll see your posts from the eyes of a stranger and can make your decision from there. SimpleWash can check updates written in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish at this stage.
What sorts of things have you hidden from your Facebook Timeline and why?