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Although Facebook has a history of changing how privacy settings of the member accounts on its service work, in many ways each member holds the key to ensuring his or her Facebook privacy. To ensure your privacy, you need to invest a few minutes of your time to review and change, if necessary, your privacy settings by logging on to your Facebook account. These privacy settings are designed to control what information certain people, including your friends, strangers, and advertisers, can see. The best way to ensure Facebook privacy — and your privacy on any social networking site — is to limit the amount of information you list in the first place.
Revising your Facebook privacy settings is generally simple and usually takes only a mouse click to choose a setting for an item. The options to choose from are mostly contained in a pull down menu for added convenience. You can choose to share any or all of your personal information to "Everyone," "Friends of Friends," or "Friends Only."
Facebook has set by default most of the privacy settings to either Everyone or Friends of Friends. The setting Everyone can gravely compromise your Facebook privacy because this setting essentially allows Facebook to share your private information with everybody on the site. Making your information available to Friends of Friends can also be a big threat to your privacy because the number of friends of your friends, as well as the friends of the friends of your friends, is likely to continually grow. It is often best, therefore, to make your personal information available only to your circle of friends to get the best assurance of Facebook privacy.
Start the review of your privacy settings with the status updates which are contained on the page you see as soon as you log on to your account. The page contains bits and pieces of information about yourself and your friends. It is also where your friends write comments and other information on your wall; you might find this information sensitive, and may want to make it only available to your friends. There is a padlock icon below your status update. Hover your cursor over the icon and click on the left button of your mouse to pull down the menu and change your setting.
Your next stop should be your privacy settings page which can be accessed through the "Account" hyperlink at the top right of the page. Click on it to pull down the menu and select "Privacy Settings" to access the page containing your privacy settings. The menu selection to alter your settings is displayed in a box on the left side of the page. Clicking on any of the menu choices will effect a global change in the setting of each item included in your privacy settings. If you prefer to individually choose your setting for each item, click on the "Customize Settings" hyperlink.
The change of privacy settings should not be viewed as a full assurance or guarantee that people other than your friends will not be able to access personal information that you want to keep private. There are powerful search engines that can invade your Facebook account and view your information, no matter your settings. Consider limiting the personal information you share through your wall and your profile page. You can share more personal information at your discretion on a need-to-know basis via the email or instant messaging facilities of Facebook.
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