Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to avoid being found on Facebook

Privacy is becoming a very important issue in this web-connected world. The growth of so many social networking sites put people online for the world to see. There are so many controversies about Facebook's viewpoint for privacy, as it is the largest social networking website, with a lot more than 500 million active users at the time of writing this article.

Here's how to take the ultimate step in protecting yourself. Here's how to hide yourself from the public by limiting the number of people who can find your profile, via Facebook search, or on other search engines.

Facebook search:

By default, anyone on Facebook can find you on the site itself. Anyone. But you can change your settings to disable, or if you want, limit this.

  • First, go to your Privacy Settings by clicking the menu 'Account' in the top-right and then clicking 'Privacy Settings'.
  • Click the link to 'View Settings' on Basic Directory Information at the top.
  • Here, you can set some very important, basic settings as per your liking, the first one being 'Search for me on Facebook'.
  • By default, it is set to 'Everyone', and you can change it to only friends, or to friends of friends, if you want to make it a bit wider.
  • You can also change other settings. However, I always like to keep all of these as 'Everyone' so it is easier for old friends and other people who are far away to find me.

Other search engines:

By default, you are also visible in public search engines. This means that if someone runs a web search for you on Google, Bing, Y! Search and others, your Facebook profile may show up in the results. When this is clicked, the searcher can see a preview of your profile, even if they are not Facebook users.

If you are under 18, your profile won't appear in public searches, so don't worry until you grow up.

This profile preview includes your profile photo, your name, list of friends and your likes. Also, whatever you have chosen to be viewable by everyone can be seen on your profile. This is pretty much the same as the public profile visible to anyone that finds you on Facebook.

If you are conscious about this, you may want to turn this off. It's pretty simple. Once you get into the Privacy Settings, click the link to see the settings for Applications and Websites in the bottom left corner, which is shown here:

Here, you can see your settings for 'Public search' at the bottom of the page. You can disable this feature right there. If you are under 18, you will see this: 

It says that you are too young to use this feature and you can choose to enable it as soon as you turn 18. They're real smart guys.

I am a strong supporter of the current settings available to us on Facebook. Though many people say it is not so perfect, I am quite satisfied with it. Whatever anyone says, it is very true that Facebook provides everyone with ample settings to control virtually whatever they appear to be on the site - or if they appear or not in the first place.

So, this was how to change your settings so you don't appear at all to people you don't want to find you on Facebook. Use it wisely.

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Here's how to see how you appear to certain people on Facebook, and here's how cancel a friend request without the other person knowing anything at all. Another article I recommend is about cleaning up your Facebook account and profile.

See also:
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