I usually write about Loudoun County, and/or real estate, but today I’m going to digress slightly to write a little bit about technology. If you follow along with my writing here, you are probably aware that I also use Twitter and Facebook in my business as well. I enjoy having social media tools to allow me to interact with friends, colleagues, and clients, but I do take steps to separate my business life from my personal life.
One of the great things about Facebook is that you can set up your privacy settings for your profile page, so that the general public at large only has access to as much information as you are willing to share. For myself, I’m fine with my email address, cell phone number, and business information being readily accessible for someone who is trying to find me. I do own my own business, after all, and people need that information to get in touch with me. I do not, however, let folks I don’t know see my personal pictures and information.
I have two middle school aged children that are now moving into the online realm, and although they do not have Facebook profiles, many of their friends do. I was having a conversation with them about online privacy, and we used the opportunity to browse around Facebook looking at the public profiles of many of their friends. As a parent, I was *horrified* at how many of these kids had photos, phone numbers, friend lists, and the like available to ANYONE who was browsing through Facebook. That is an open invitation for people with ill intent, to say the least.
To edit what anyone searching Facebook can see, click on “Account” in the top right corner and in the drop down menu, choose “Privacy Settings”…Here is the screen that you will see next:
Click on the first link, “Profile Information” to bring up the following screen:
(You can click on those pictures to make them larger, if needed.) From here you can use the drop down settings to change it from “Everyone” to “Only Friends” or whatever you like. You can test how it appears to others by clicking the “Preview My Profile” link at the top right. I highly recommend walking through these settings with your kids, so that you can ensure that they are protected from strangers. And parents, please understand that it is not enough to be ‘friended’ with your kids on Facebook. They can use these privacy settings to specifically block you as easily as they can block the general public…I’d recommend knowing their password, too, in case you think they are hiding anything harmful.
This is just my suggestion; I teach business people how to use Facebook on a regular basis, so if you have any questions on how to use these settings, I’m happy to lend a hand.