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How to Maintain Privacy With Social Networks

If there’s any doubt now about how much social media has transformed the new generation, just ask David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin, director and writer, respectively, of The Social Network – it opened in the number one spot its debut weekend, grossing over $23 million dollars. Oh, and Roger Ebert gave it a more-than-glowing four-star review. It’s truly unavoidable: Facebook and its socially savvy brethren are here to stay, and likely rapidly expand over the next few decades. And while many would praise the development of technology that purports to bring us closer together, sometimes we’ve got to ask: Isn’t anything sacred, anymore? As in, is it possible to keep our private things private without completely blockading ourselves from the exciting, twenty-four-hour world of social media — essentially, have our cake and eat it, too?

Turns out it is, in fact, possible. But it takes some detailed management of your social media presence. Here are some tips to maintain your privacy on some of the most popular social networking sites:

Maintain Privacy With Social Networks


facebook privacy


It’s an open secret that the makers of Facebook have a history of being a bit sneaky with their privacy practices, but with patience, you can still make your experience rewarding — but safe.

Change The Default “Sharing” Controls. Facebook’s “recommended” option for sharing information on your profile — status, contact info, religious and political views, etc. — is three-tiered: “Everyone” can see your bio, photos, and quotes, “Friends of Friends” can see your birthday and tagged photos and videos, and “Friends” can comment on posts and view your contact information. If you don’t want your future employer to see time-lapse photos of you playing an eighteen-hour round of beer pong on a dirty old card table while soaked in alcoholic sweat, you might want to change all of your settings to “Friends Only.” You can do this by clicking on the “Custom” option, arranging your settings accordingly, and clicking again on “Apply These Settings.” Voila! HR-proof.

Change Your “Basic Directory” Settings. Default privacy settings for the directory, are, again, tailored to meet Facebook’s advertising needs. You should probably allow “Everyone” to send you friend requests and search you on the network, but only allow “Friends of Friends” or “Friends” to send you personal messages, see your friends list, or see your education/interests. This will curb the amount of unwanted advertising traffic sent to your profile, but allow you to remain connected with personal friends.


twitter privacy

(@Security King)

Protect Your Tweets. Thankfully, Twitter’s privacy controls aren’t even half as complicated as Facebook’s. If you have a twitter account, you basically have two options: “protect” your tweets, or don’t. This means that your status updates can either be made fully public, or only made visible to those you “follow” on the network. If you choose the “protect” option, however, your previous tweets may still be public and accessible from other platforms (like search engines).

Another protip: watch out for shortened URLs (such as those with the “bit.ly” format): clicking on these links can lead you to malicious or spammy sites without warning — so use your best judgment.

Linked In

linkedIn privacy


LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook’s business-y, dressed up next-of-kin, has over eighty million users, all of whom are scrambling to “internet schmooze” within their respective industries. Unwanted solicitations might seem rare in such an environment (especially in this economy), but, like Facebook, LinkedIn’s default privacy settings leave much of its users’ information open to the public. Here are some ways to control the flow of info:

Control Who Contacts You. LinkedIn has controls that determine which entities/persons can contact you directly. In the “Profile Settings” section, decide which parts of your public profile you want to be seen by the public. In “Email Notifications,” you can decide if you want to receive “Introductions” and “InMails” from 2nd and 3rd degree users in your network, which may or may not be “business opportunities” you’re actually interested in.

Control Targeted Advertising. LinkedIn allows advertisers to target you based on “non-personally identifiable information” in your profile. It also allows market researchers to do the same. Choose the “no” option to turn this setting off.

Control Who Sees What. Make sure to change the “Profile and Status Updates” Settings to your liking — you can choose to publish profile changes to your company’s profile, or whether you want “connections” — people you’ve chosen to make contact with — to see your status updates.

About the Author: Bryan Cochand is a freelance writer for Adobe. Adobe software and services revolutionize how the world engages with ideas and information; anytime, anywhere, and through any medium. On their website you can find a tools to edit pdf files as well as many other tools that enable you to connect such as a webinar software.