Healthy Living

How to check your social media accounts’ privacy settings

By now, you’ve seen a story (or two) about Facebook and data privacy. Maybe it’s caused you to stop and think about what information social media platforms have access to — and what they do with it.

Social media isn’t going away, which is why we need to spend time learning about privacy settings. What pictures, articles and comments you post on social media are entirely up to you (and in some cases, your employer — be sure you understand your company’s social media policy, if it has one). Being vigilant with privacy settings will help you be a responsible user of any social media platform you’re active on.

First things first. Take a moment to check the terms of service for the social media platforms you use. It’s a boring task similar to reading the fine print on a contract, but it’s valuable. If you don’t want to read the terms of service word for word, at a minimum do a quick search in the document for terms such as “privacy,” “data” and “selling.” That way you can hone in on the sections referring to those things.

Facebook: Checking and updating your privacy settings

After reviewing the terms of service, take a moment to review your privacy settings. Here’s how to do it on Facebook:

View your profile with an external eye. While logged into Facebook, click on your profile photo, so you’re viewing your timeline. In the lower right corner of your cover image, click on the three dots next to “View Activity Log” and then click on “View As.” This will show you what others can see on your profile.

Now you can decide if you need to update any of your privacy settings. In the upper right corner of your Facebook page, click on the down arrow. Select “Settings.” Now review each of the categories on the left side of the screen to make sure your settings are the way you want them. Pay attention to:

  • Privacy, which allows you to set who sees what
  • Timeline and Tagging, which allows you to set who you can tag you in photos, etc.
  • Apps, which lists the apps that have access to your information

How you set your privacy settings is a personal decision. You might want to place filters on your profile that another person wouldn’t, or vice versa. You might also want to change your settings temporarily and later change them back. The point is, you should know the settings exist, where to find them, and get comfortable with what they do.

Do the same to find and adjust the privacy settings for other platforms you use. Put a note on your calendar to check your privacy settings regularly. This might seem like one of those activities you can do when you have nothing else better to work on, but recent news has shown us sometimes we let our guard down and before you know it, we have a dozen authorized apps attached to our account.

Be a responsible user of social media

Social media continues to be a big part of our personal and professional lives. That means we have to learn how to use it effectively — including making sure our privacy settings are configured the way we want them. Being a responsible user involves taking the time to develop regular “maintenance” routines to ensure our accounts are secure and the people we want to connect with are the ones seeing our status updates.

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