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How to Fine-Tune Your Privacy Settings for Facebook Graph Search

How to Fine-Tune Your Privacy Settings for Facebook Graph Search

Depending on your tolerance for personal exposure, you may love it or hate Facebook's new Graph Search. What makes it most interesting, and perhaps most insidious, is the way it's set up to let users mix and match search terms to make new discoveries. So you Like a random website? Big deal. What might a list of all the websites you've ever Liked say about you though?

Facebook Graph Search is coming, and now -- before it hits -- is a good time to tweak your Facebook privacy settings.

What is it?

Graph Search is a new search function within Facebook. It's not yet been officially launched, but it is available in Beta. Graph Search differs from existing Facebook search functions because instead of just indexing bits of information, it indexes a large number of connections between pieces of information.

For example, Facebook's search functionality now provides people, places and things. The initial phase of Graph Search will provide the relationships between people, places and photos as well.

Some Graph Search term examples, provided by Facebook on its website: "people who like cycling who are from my hometown"; "restaurants in London my friends have been to"; "photos I like"; and "music my friends like."

Essentially, with Graph Search you will be able to look up and get results for anything shared with you on Facebook, and others will be able to do the same with things you've shared with them.

What Is Indexed in Graph?

Content set to Public will be searchable. People will be findable based on things they've shared with you, including interests and items within their profile -- for example, friends who have shared their city with you, or friends whose city is public.

Photos will findable by you if you -- or friends -- have posted or tagged them. Others will see any photos they can normally see, including photos hidden from the timeline.

Your location tags will be searchable.

What's the Problem?

What's the problem with all this? There isn't one if you believe that searching for and finding connections is an integral part of the future of social networking.

However, if your attitude toward privacy runs a bit more on the old-school side, you can control some of this information, including who can see your current city. Control can include reporting or removing photo tags; deleting photos; and removing location tags.

Step 1: Set General Privacy Settings

Click on the Settings cogwheel-like icon at the top-right corner of your Facebook page. Use a Web browser on a computer for this -- it's easier.

Choose the Privacy Settings link in the drop-down menu, and click on the first Edit link labeled "Who can see your future posts?" Select the "Friends" choice.

This setting will limit the viewing of your posts to friends, and not friends of friends.

Tip: Your About tab on your Timeline is where your current city is stored.

Step 2: Review and Remove Posts and Tagged Items

Click on the Use Activity Log link adjacent to "Review all your posts and things that you're tagged in." It's in the same Settings area you visited in Step 1.

Scroll down the page and you'll see chronological activity that relates to you -- either instigated by you or by others.

Click on the Edit icon to the right of the activity.

In the case of content uploaded by you -- like photos -- choose Delete Photo.

Warning: Photos that are untagged but not deleted can still be found by others on Facebook.

Hiding a photo from your Timeline doesn't change who can see the photo.

Tip: Use the Shared With and On Timeline filters in the Photos section of the Activity Log to see items you've hidden from your timeline but that still might be viewable by others.

Use the Report/Remove Tag option within the Edit area to request photos be removed by friends. Choose "I Want this photo removed from Facebook" and a message will be sent to the owner requesting it be removed.

Use this option for requesting an un-tag in the Posts You're Tagged In section too.

Step 3: Limit Past Posts to Friends Only

Click on the link adjacent to "Limit the audience for posts you've shared with friends of friends or Public."

Choose to limit old posts to friends -- not friends of friends and not public.

Want to Ask a Tech Question?

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Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.


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