We pour our lives into Facebook, checking in whenever we stop somewhere new, posting photos of family and friends, and giving away all manner of personal information. It's gold dust for identity thieves, and an easy way for bosses and exes to keep an eye on what you're up to. Fortunately, it's easy to limit your profile's contents and restrict who can read it... so long as you know where to look.
Blocking other users
You can block specific members from viewing your profile by adding them to a blacklist.
1. Click Account | Privacy Settings and then, in the Block lists section, click Edit your lists.
2. Enter a name or email address for the user you want to block. Facebook displays a list of matches with Block buttons beside each one. Click the appropriate button, followed by Close. This is pretty heavy-handed and far from perfect, as it leaves your profile full of personal information.
Filter your public profile
Before locking down your profile, check how it looks to other Facebook members.
1. Click Account | View settings | Preview my Profile. Whatever appears on the next screen is public property. Make a note of what you want to remove, then click Back to Privacy settings.
2. Facebook's recommended settings are tiered. Your status, photos, posts, family details and biography are open to all. Friends of friends can see tagged photos, political or religious views and your birthday, while your friends can comment on your posts and see where you’ve checked in. Three presets in the ‘Sharing on Facebook’ section let you make more or less of your profile public, but for finer-grained control click Customise settings.
3. Facebook splits your profile into sections. Use the menus beside each one to choose who can see each part (Everyone, Friends of Friends, or Friends only).
4. To hide some sections from specific users, pick Customise and enter the names of the people from whom you want to hide that data.
Controlling your public profile
A large part of your profile is material posted by other people. They can tag you in their photos, write on your wall and comment on your posts. To retain control of your public image, you need to restrict what others post about you.
1. Under Privacy settings select Customise settings and then scroll down to 'Things others share' and set who can see ‘photos or videos I'm tagged in' to 'Only me', and set permission to comment on your posts to friends only.
2. Uncheck the box allowing friends to post on your wall, and use the Edit settings buttons beside 'suggest photos of me to friends' and 'friends can check me in to places' to stop them tagging you in images and publishing your physical location.
3. Return to the top of the page and click Preview my Profile again. If you're happy with the stripped-down results, click Back to privacy settings.
Some of your information is made public by Facebook apps and games, and by third-party websites that use Facebook logins. Rather than disabling all apps, simply limit the information they can publish.
1. Scroll to the bottom of privacy settings and, under Apps and websites, click Edit your settings. On the following page, click Edit settings in the Information accessible through your friends section.
2. The box that pops up breaks out your profile sections again, here covering not only your details, but also whether you're online and where you've checked in. Uncheck anything you want to keep private, then click Save Changes.
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Any apps you haven't used for a long time should be removed from your account, as they can still access your data and updates.
1. Scroll up to Apps you use and click Edit settings.
2. Click the 'x' beside each app you want to remove or, for more information about what data it can access, click Edit settings.
Hide yourself from search engines
Finally, to stop your Facebook profile appearing in search engines' listings, go to the Apps and websites section of your Privacy settings. Hit Edit settings next to the Public search button and ensure Enable public search is unchecked.