Confession time: I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. On the one hand, it’s great to be able to connect with so many people at once, stay updated on their lives, and contact them when I need to.
On the other hand, I often hesitate to *do* much on my personal profile because I am a very private person.
Now that I am about to have my first baby, I have been looking into ways that I can make sure my new addition doesn’t make too much of an impression on social media before they’re even walking.
Facebook’s privacy settings can be super confusing to navigate (and continually changing), but I spent some time going through what my options are and what settings I can use to best protect me and my family from being exposed in ways I am not comfortable with.
I know that I’m not the only mum out there who has these concerns, so I thought I’d share my settings with you in case you’d like to do something similar.
First thing’s first. Go to your Privacy settings.
Only Friends See Your Posts
If you want to be able to share your posts with your friends and family on Facebook, but nobody else (aka randoms on the internet), this is the most important setting to check first.
If your settings are set to “Public”, then anyone can see your posts. In my opinion, this is not ideal unless you’re a public figure and don’t use your account for personal things.
As long as you are careful to only add friends who you know and trust, this setting will generally keep your page private from the general population.
Review All Posts You’re Tagged In
You can’t control what other people post about you online, but you can control whether their posts appear on your profile. If someone posts something about you and your family, it will reach a lot more people if you are tagged and it appears on your timeline.
For that reason, I prefer to review every post I am tagged in before allowing it to come up. And if I really don’t like the post, I can always send a message to the person who created it and ask them to remove it.
This is also great if you want to keep your page more “professional” (if you’re friends with a client, for example). If someone has kindly tagged you in a less than a flattering image, you can rest assured that they probably won’t see it unless you approve it first!
Your “About” Information
Remember when you filled out all that information for Facebook about your life? You know… where you work, where you studied, where you live… scary things like that. Head over to your profile page and click the “About” tab.
If you hover over each section, you’ll see a little icon that shows either a world, a padlock, or some people. If an element shows the world symbol, that element is publically available to anyone, even if you’re not friends. If it shows the people it is visible to your current friend’s list. If it shows the padlock, only you can see that information. To change any of these, just click on the icon.
Keeping these settings fairly private protects your family from strangers figuring out where you live, how to contact you, and what your daily movements are. You’d be surprised by what they can do with just a small amount of information.
Your Cover Photos and Profile Pictures
Typically, your cover photo and profile picture would contain your favourite images. Often if you have a family, it can be tempting to plaster them over this prime real estate on your profile. The key here is to make sure that this prime real estate is set to private so that only your Facebook friends can see them.
To set your Facebook profile picture to private, click on it. Then click on the icon next to the date you posted it. If it is a “world” symbol (the default setting), it is publically viewable. If you don’t want the world to see your profile picture, change it to “Friends” only. Don’t forget to check back through your previous profile pictures, as you’ll need to change their privacy settings individually.
It appears that there is no option to make your current cover photo public, so if this is a concern for you, consider uploading one that doesn’t include any identifying features of your family in it. However, you can go in and edit the privacy settings for your previous cover photos. Simply navigate to the album of “Cover Photos” in your Photos tab. Click on the individual photos and change the setting to “Friends”.
Be Aware of What’s Public
When you use your personal page to comment on a business page, public group, or another place on Facebook that is “public” such as a friend’s profile with low privacy settings, your comment is also considered public. It might show up in your friends’ newsfeeds and it is also fully searchable by Google. This includes photos you share in these locations.
Be mindful of the images you share and the information you post. You never know who is watching *creepy eyes*. If you really want to be safe, don’t use your personal profile to comment anywhere except on your own personal posts or private groups (yes, the Mum CFOs group is private!).
Unfortunately, you can only control what goes on your own page. The moment someone else has a photo of your family or your child, they have the power to do what they want with it. If your friends or family aren’t as strict with their privacy settings (they probably don’t realise), their page may be public, which means that anyone can see their images.
If this worries you, it might be a good idea to share something like the image below on your Facebook page to let your friends and family know about your wishes. You’ll probably find that once they are aware of your expectations, they’ll respect them!
Over to you…
What are you comfortable with sharing on Facebook? What other settings can you recommend that families implement to try and protect their privacy online? Please feel free to leave a comment below or start a discussion in our private group