As you know I work in social media and I come across people (friends and colleagues) every day who don’t realise just how public their data on Facebook is. Not only that, but most people have no idea where the their privacy settings are. So, it’s about time I wrote about making your Facebook profile less public to help you all out a bit.

Rule number one of using Facebook should be that you need to explore the settings sections regularly. Facebook changes the settings options very often and you unwittingly make things very public that you want only your friends to see.

There are some really cool nifty tricks that you can use to see what strangers can see about you, as well as tools that allow you to change all the settings on posts.

Step 1: Checking what is public

On your profile, select the 3 dots next to ‘View Activity Log’ and then go to ‘View As’. The default setting is public, so this allows you to see what strangers can see about your content.

Now a lot of people don’t have a clue just how public their posts have been. Can you see the two little men icon next to the time and date of the post? That shows that my posts are going to friends only. If there’s a world next to your posts, it means that everyone in the world can see everything.

Some people are happy with sharing with the world, most are not.

Now you may think it’s strange that although I blog, and tweet and Instagram about my life, my Facebook profile is friends only. But I share stuff on Facebook that shouldn’t be visible to the entire world. I choose what I share, where and to whom. I understand which platforms are public and which I choose to be more private.

Therefore, my private profile is friends only. I have pages on Facebook for this blog and my photography that are public, and that suits me perfectly.

Step 2: Check what apps are gathering data about you and stop them

Online platforms are all about storing data about you and sharing some (or all) of it with other companies. That’s how companies target their advertising on Facebook, google and other places.

Facebook’s settings section has a place where you can check which apps you’ve connected your Facebook profile to, and what they’re gathering about you.

It really is quite frightening to see how many apps you unwittingly give permission to, and it’s a good idea to review this section every few months. Every game you play and every strange quiz you take on Facebook connects the app companies to your Facebook information and posts. In my opinion, there really needs to be a safer way to use the apps in Facebook. Until that happens, you have to just clear these settings often.

I’m warning you now. This step takes a while to clean up if you haven’t ever done it, so get comfortable before you see what’s in this section.

On the right of the page, choose ‘Settings’ from the arrow drop down.

Then select ‘Apps’.

This will show you all the apps you’ve allowed to collect data about you and your friends.

To remove them, hover over the image, and press the X. It will delete the connection.

I’m very selective about what I allow here. For example Instagram is here so that I can share from Instagram to Facebook. Some of them are necessary for me to do my job. I must say that even though I do this regularly, this still takes a long time to clean up.

Step 3: Making your stuff friends-only

That may have scared you a little, so here’s how to make it all private…

Again, choose the settings option in the top menu. Under the ‘Privacy’ section, there are some really cool tools to adjust and play with.

The top section is the most interesting for me. Choose the third option as shown above. This cool trick enables you to update all your past posts to ‘Friends-only’ without having to trawl through every single post! What a win!

This section also allows you to change the default setting for future posts, so that you limit the viewability of your posts if you want.

Cool hey?

But now I’m curious?

Did you realise how much of your Facebook profile was public?

Were you surprised by how many apps were getting your information?

Let me know in the comments!