Adjusting privacy settings on social media is very easy to do, and if you’re a person who values personal privacy, it’s wise to keep snoopers out. This brief guide will help you keep your accounts as secure or as open as you’d like them to be.
For readers with social-savvy teens at home, it’s useful to make sure they know how to keep things private as well. They might not know how much they’re sharing with the world.
The first rule in social media security or website security in general is use a strong password. Check out our guide to build one that’s rock solid. The second rule is be careful about sharing personal info. Things like birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, and so forth might be helpful information for identity thieves to have. Make their job tough by keeping these things to yourself.
Facebook is a personal place for some. You might have entire galleries of photos posted here and you might have more than just basic personal information posted, making it one of the most important platforms to keep private. To get to the privacy settings, login to Facebook, then from the main screen, click the little downward-pointing arrow in the top right corner, click Settings, then Privacy. From here you can adjust who can see what, who can contact you, and who can look you up based on certain criteria.
Next is timeline and tagging. From the Settingspage, click Timeline and Tagging. Here you can adjust who is allowed to post on your timeline, and even set your timeline so that you can review anything someone wants to post to your timeline before it’s visible to others. If you’re curious what your timeline and “about” page look like to outsiders, click on View As and it will show you how others see your timeline. This lets you know what the public (i.e. those you’re not friends with) can learn about you. If you know that, it’s easier to adjust settings to keep them from knowing more than you’d like them to.
There’s also another area that affects your privacy. Click on your name at the top of any screen to go to your profile page. Click About. Here you’ll find basic information and contact information. Different pieces of information can be removed from the public eye completely. Next to each item (birth date, mobile phone number, etc.) there is a lock icon. Click this to choose who can see each individual piece of information, whether it’s public, friends, just you, or custom. You can choose to have your birthday, email, and phone numbers available for friends, but it’s wise to keep these from the public eye.
Twitter is much more basic than Facebook, which means there’s not nearly as much personal info available. The only things that are public by default are your location (which you select), your bio (which you write), the tweets you send, the tweets people include you in, and the photos people tag you in. Many of these things can be adjusted by logging into your Twitter account, clicking the gear in the top right corner, clicking settings, then security and privacy. From this page you can decide if you’d like to review photos others have tagged you in, include a location to your tweets, or keep your tweets protected so that only those who follow you can see what you’ve sent.
“Nobody uses Google+,” you say. Well, actually, many Google users have a Google+ account they may have looked at once but never played around with. If that’s the case, they might have personal info visible to the public that they don’t want to have in sight. If you’re not sure, let’s find out, and if you do have a Google+, let’s make sure you’ve got the privacy settings you’d like. First, login to your Google account. In the top right corner, click the grid of squares then click the G+ icon. On the left-hand side of your Google+ page, click the Home dropdown, then Settings. Similar to Facebook, this is where you can decide what is visible to the public and what’s visible to followers or those in your circles.
Once you’ve adjusted those, there’s one more place you’ll want to look at. Click Home, then Settings again. On your profile page, click About. Similar to Facebook, you can choose to make certain pieces of your “about” section public. Go through these carefully to decide which things (if any) are for public consumption and which are only for those in your circles. You’ll definitely want to take an extra close look at the “Basic Information” and “Contact Information” sections.
I hate the term “selfie,” and it’s definitely a warranted inclusion on Lit Reactor’s list of social media words that must die. In any case, Instagram is where many of these self-portraits end up. Photos of you, your friends, or your kids are personal and might not be something you’d like to share with the public. Just like with the other sites, Instagram lets you choose who you want to share with. By default, anyone can view your profile and posts on Instagram—yeah, anyone. To make your posts so that only approved followers can see them, login and go to your profile page then click Edit Your Profile next to your profile picture. Turn on the Posts are Private setting, then click Done and you’re all set. Note that when you keep your posts private and use a hashtag, they will still only be visible to your friends and followers. Keeping posts private is also a kind consideration for friends who might be in your photos because they may not want to appear in your pictures for all to see.
Pinterest is known for being very open. In fact, until a little while ago, you couldn’t even have private boards. Now, instead of posting everything to public boards, you can simply create a private board that only you and people you invite can see. You’ll see this option when you create a new board. Additionally, if you’re hoping to keep photos or work you’ve done private so it isn’t shared freely, there’s a no-pin option you can select while uploading pictures. This will keep people from being able to pin images so they stay exclusively on the boards you post them to. Don’t forget, you can also block problem accounts that continually bother you with spam or things of that nature. Check out this post for more details on keeping your work from being shared.
Be Smart Out There
The biggest advice anyone can give on social media safety is to use your head. You don’t want to be sharing personal information or pictures with everybody in the whole world, which is why taking the time to look at your privacy settings on any social media platform is something any user of social media user should do. There’s no reason not to have the privacy you deserve, even in something as vast and open as the World Wide Web.