Tip # 16 – Update Kids’ Facebook Privacy Settings Regularly

Aug 08

If there’s one thing every regular Facebook user knows, it’s that Mark Zuckerberg likes change.  Facebook is constantly evolving to improve the experience of connecting with “friends” online.  And, generally, this is a good thing.  The downside, however, is that the options in the privacy settings change as well.  That’s why everyone – from parents to kids – should make it a habit of regularly updating their privacy options.

For recently joined members of Facebook (or those considering joining), setting up a comfortable level of privacy for online sharing should be an immediate priority.  When a new profile is set up, the network automatically determines who views your personal information, ranging from “Everyone” (who logs into Facebook) to “Friends Only”.

Better to create your own level of privacy than assume that Facebook has your back.  On several occasions over the past two years, I’ve been able to view photos of children who I do not know (or worse, inappropriately dressed photos of teenagers I DO know) because their settings permit “friends of friends” to view photos posted by friends.  So, even though it was Uncle Buck commenting on the cute picture of your two-year-old, his posse of 600 friends got to see it, as well.  Personally, I’d recommend eliminating any “friends of friends” options completely from personal privacy settings… Who ARE these people?

Thankfully, Facebook has made it extremely easy to review every privacy option and customize its level of visibility based on the labels: “Everyone”, “Friends of Friends”, “Friends Only”, or “Only Me”.  Simply click on ‘Account’ in the top right-hand corner and select ‘Privacy Settings’ from the drop down menu.  Here, you will be provided an overview of your settings.  Because these change constantly, be sure to customize them every few months.

Quick Tip: Disable the ‘Places I check into’ feature by clicking on ‘Customize Settings’.  If this is not disabled, the profile allows friends to ‘check’ you (or your kids who are on Facebook) into locations, thereby letting others (as in anyone) know where you are at that particular time.

After updating the privacy settings for ‘Sharing on Facebook’, click on the menu item above it: ‘Connecting on Facebook’.  Here, more options are provided.  I thought I’d updated everything, but after reviewing my settings recently I learned that ‘Everyone’ was able to view my current city and hometown.  I immediately changed it to ‘Friends Only’.

While this process may seem tedious, it really isn’t.  A proper update will take no more than five minutes and can make a huge difference in the safety of your kids’ (and your own) online experience.  Older kids won’t be so willing to allow a parent to hijack their profile page, so offer them a head’s up on what they should review next time they go onto the social network.  Give them the added incentive to do it by reminding them that stiffer privacy settings also discourage those nasty online hackers and scammers from hitting their profile pages.


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One comment

  1. Christelle /

    Just wanted to say that I think this is a great blog!

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