5 steps to protect your Facebook privacy in lieu of upcoming Graph Search changes

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Facebook is in the process of a privacy shift that would let all users be discovered via Graph Search.

The company reminded users earlier this month that it is phasing out the “Who can look up your timeline by name,” Facebook privacy feature that allowed people to essentially opt-out of being discoverable within Graph Search.

Here’s how you can make sure that you don’t get unwanted attention or unfamilar friend requests as a result of this Facebook privacy change.

This is what Facebook is ending:

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 11.59.27 AMThat privacy setting allowed people to choose who can see their profile when they type their name into Graph Search. Facebook claimed that only a small percentage of users took advantage of this, so it is sunsetting the feature.

For those who did have this Facebook privacy setting enabled, a message will pop up on top of News Feed soon, notifying the user that they will soon be viewable within Graph Search. Short of not having a profile photo or cover photo, there’s not really a way to be truly hidden or anonymous on Facebook, but there are ways to deflect unwanted messages or friend requests.

1. Change future post audience

The first major change can come with changing future posts away from public to friends or friends of friends (or a custom audience group curated by yourself). To do this, go into your privacy settings and edit the “Who can see your future posts?” area.

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 12.13.40 PMHaving this set to public means that anyone can see what you post. By restricting it to friends (or a customized group), only those people can see your posts on your timeline. This setting can also be changed on a post-by-post basis on desktop and mobile whenever you post something new.

2. Restrict contact options

You can also restrict who can send a friend request and who can send messages. Users can go into privacy settings and make it so they can’t receive a friend request from a person unless they have a mutual friend. They can also tighten up the settings on their inbox so only messages from friends make it to the inbox, while others are kept in the “other” box.

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3. Limit past posts

But what if you’ve lived your Facebook life in public? All of those photos from college and status updates from years past can easily be changed from the privacy settings screen. Simply click “Limit Past Posts,” and agree to the prompt. It will change all past public posts to friends only, so unknown people can’t see them. However, cover photos and profile photos are public. Anything else can be hidden.

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4. Take advantage of convenience

Many of these settings can be easily changed from the left sidebar, if you’re on the redesigned News Feed.

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 12.31.06 PMIf you’ve done it all right, users who are not already a friend or friend-of-friend will only be able to see your name, profile photo, cover photo and any other information mandated public.

5. View As

You can also check to see how your profile looks to certain friends, friends-of-friends and users outside of your network.

Go to your timeline, and click on the cog on the bottom right corner of the cover photo. Then click View As. This will allow you to view your timeline as if you were someone else, so you can see exactly what they see.

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Readers: What else do you want to know about protecting your privacy on Facebook?

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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