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5 ways to secure your Facebook profile in a post-Timeline world

Logan Kugler | Feb. 8, 2012
With the ongoing rollout of Facebook's Timeline feature, security and privacy have never been more important to your digital life. The new layout presents all of your current and past activities on Facebook -- posts, photos, comments, likes and so on -- in a handy timeline format to anyone with access to your profile, which may include friends of friends, colleagues, executives at your company, a potential future boss ... well, you get the idea.

Similarly, if you install any new apps, be sure to select Only Me under "Who can see activity from this app on Facebook" on the installation page.

4. Stop others from taking your information with them

The Apps, Games and Websites privacy settings also contain some other features that security hounds would be wise to disable.

Click on Edit Settings next to the entry labeled "How people bring your info to the apps they use." Other users may be able to bring your personal information with them when they use apps and websites. It's all in the interest of making things more social. It can also be invasive. Uncheck the box next to each information category listed (there are 17 of them) to prevent others from using your personal data.

Head back to the Apps, Games and Websites privacy settings and click Edit Settings for the "Instant personalization" category. This option should be turned off by default, but check to make sure. You'll first see a pop-up screen explaining the feature; when you close that, you'll be able to see whether it's enabled. If it is, disable it. This will prevent Facebook partner sites from accessing your public information to personalize your experience on their own websites.

5. Reduce your social footprint

Sharing is the whole point of Facebook, but the Timeline layout sometimes takes this to extremes, making it easy for others to see all your activity from years gone by. The good news is that you can disable Recent Activity updates, which broadcast new friendships, groups you've joined and any other changes in your basic information (such as relationship status or political views). Just click on the X next to a Recent Activity update on your timeline and select Hide Similar Activity from Timeline.

This makes the process of hiding certain activities from your past a little easier. But here's the bad news: Individual status updates or posts from, say, your less judicious days need to be removed individually by clicking the pencil icon next to each item and choosing Hide from Timeline -- a process that could take you to the end of 2012 if you've ever been very active on Facebook.

There's a limited solution, though: In the main Privacy Settings window, the second-to-last entry on the list is titled Limit the Audience for Past Posts. Click on the Manage Past Post Visibility link next to it. A window will appear giving you the option to change all past posts so that they're visible only to friends. Click Limit Old Posts to do so.

That will at least prevent anyone other than people you've friended from seeing older items on your timeline. But considering that your boss, colleagues and other acquaintances may be among your Facebook friends, it's still a good idea to review your entire timeline and remove compromising status updates, comments, links and photos. Start with the oldest items first. When you first started using Facebook, you probably had fewer contacts and might have posted and commented with less caution than you've done more recently.

 

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