New Facebook Privacy Settings

Did you know about the New Facebook Privacy Settings?

Facebook have recently ‘revamped’ their Privacy Settings which they say will enable users to have more control over the information they share and post online.

These changes include:

  •  A “simpler” Privacy page and some settings have been consolidated. For security reasons, you will now be required to enter your password to update your privacy settings.
  • A privacy control has been added to the publisher at the top of your home and profile page. This allows users to set privacy on individual posts
  • Instead of having networks for regions (e.g. London), people’s locations are now listed in the “Current City” or “Current Region” field of their profiles. This means if you use the “Friends and Networks” privacy setting, the networks part only applies to work and school networks
  • A basic set of information is publicly available, meaning it’s visible to anyone that navigates to your profile. This includes applications you use on Facebook, and websites you connect with via Facebook. This information includes your name, profile picture, gender, current city, networks, friend list, and Pages. Any additional information (e.g. photos or videos) will only be exposed if your privacy settings allow it.
  • There are now three basic levels of privacy: Friends, Friends of Friends, Everyone.

However these changes have already come under great criticism from users, digital rights groups and bloggers as it is felt that these new changes could be encouraging users to share more information with the wider web and becoming more visible online, which of course gives great concern to younger and possibly more vulnerable users and professionals who may be using Facebook.

See the BBC’s report on the new Facebook settings here


It is strongly recommended that all Facebook users make sure they are aware of how to protect their profiles online with the new settings


So, what do the new Privacy Settings mean?

These new Privacy changes have meant that there is a of publicly available information available as default to Facebook and the wider web community, such as your Name, Profile Picture, Current City, Gender, Networks, Friend List and Pages.

Some tips:

  • To prevent the basic level of information being shared online via search results you must restrict your search results to only being seen by “Friends” or remove/change the content. 
  • To hide your friends list online you must click the pencil icon in the Friends box on your profile. Then, uncheck the “Show my friends on my profile” box. People who come to your profile will now not be able to see this information (Please note that applications can be still view and access your friends lists at this point).
  • You can restrict your Profile Picture from being shared through Facebook via the Photo Album Privacy options by selecting the album called “Profile Pictures” and setting the option to “friends only”
  • You can remove your profile from being displayed by public search engines in the Privacy settings under the “Search” option – uncheck the “Allow indexing” option

Facebook recommends that ‘Everyone’ should be able to see information that they say will make it easier for friends to find and identify you, which includes information like your About Me description, Family and Relationships, Work and Education Info and Website, posts that you make, photo albums and status updates. They do remind users that by using the “Everyone” option then the information will be seen by others on the internet or others who view your profile, but will this be recognised by young people?

Facebook do recommend that personal information such as Birthdays, photos and pictures you’ve been tagged in etc can only be seen by “Friends of Friends” (this is the new default setting) and that information such as phone numbers etc can only be seen by friends. This however doesn’t take into account that we don’t always know who our friends are friends with and sometimes people accept friend’s requests from strangers to access games or to appear to be popular.  This could have potentially disastrous effects for young people and staff (e.g. if colleagues have accepted young people onto friend’s lists etc)  as friends of friends may be able to access more information than under the previous settings.

For users whose profile says they are under 18 then the Privacy settings are slightly different. Both adults and under 18s have publicly available information (name, profile picture, gender, current city, networks, Friend List, Pages etc)  but the “Everyone” setting works differently for under 18’s. When under 18’s set information like photos or status updates to be visible to “Everyone,” that information is only visible to their friends, friends of friends, and people in any school or networks they have joined. Under 18’s do not have public search listing created for them, so they do not appear in outside search engines (such as google) until they have turned 18.

This setting will however rely on the fact that a user hasn’t lied about their age when they began using Facebook. (We are already aware of the growing numbers of young people, as young as 9 ho use Social Networking, 70% of 9-19’s according to Ofcom, and a recent survey by Netmums with Professor Tanya Byron found that three quarters of children secretly visit social networking sites without their parents’ permission.)


 So what next?

We strongly recommend that all Facebook users, young people, parents/carers and staff go through the new privacy settings and carefully consider the information posted online to ensure we aren’t sharing any information with the web that we don’t want or need to.

Facebook’s new guidance on Privacy can be found here 

FAQ’s about the new Privacy Settings can be found here 

Facebook have posted some video tutorials here


NB: Please note that this post may be amended according to any future changes Facebook may make to the Privacy settings.

Any comments or discussions will be gladly received!


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