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One Step Ahead: Security and Privacy Made Simple
January 25, 2011, Volume 57, No. 19

One Step Ahead

Another tip in a series provided by the Offices of Information Systems & Computing and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

Facebook Privacy Tips:  Customize Button, Friends Lists

Facebook, like most technological innovations, provides great opportunity and carries great risk—depending on how you use it. Privacy concerns are generally pretty well-known, but the privacy tools that Facebook offers are often overlooked or simply seem too daunting. 

Here are some practical tips that will get you further in protecting your privacy while using Facebook.

Make Use of the Customize Button Wherever You See It. Bypass the default options that Facebook provides and hit the “Customize” button anywhere you see it. This will allow you to decide at a specific level how you want your information shared. 

To do so, click on “Account” (top right); then “Privacy Settings;” then “Custom;” then “Customize Settings.” Then follow the prompts and decide point-by-point what your privacy preferences are.

One privacy setting that can be quite important is “Photos and Videos I am Tagged In.” You have the option—in Customize Settings—to allow those to be shared only with you.

Make and Use Friends Lists. They can be given access—or excluded from access—to different data sets.

Make use of Friends Lists in your Friends section. You may create lists of, for example, “Professional Contacts,” “Neighborhood Friends,” “Hometown Buddies,” or a “Keep Out” list. Facebook allows you to “post,” “share photos” and in fact set almost every individual privacy setting to share with—or exclude sharing with—a particular Friends List. 

To do so, look for the lock icon and/or “Customize” buttons. Then choose “Specific People”; then fill in your Friends List name under “Make this Visible To” or “Hide This From” depending on your preference.


In short, make Friends Lists, and then dig a little on the Account > Privacy Settings > Custom > Customize page. You can have more privacy than you think using Facebook, but you do need to act to do so.



For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/

Almanac - January 25, 2011, Volume 57, No. 19