It still floors me how many people don’t seem to realize the most fundamental detail of the Internet is that, no matter what you do, no matter how you act, no matter what you say…chances are you’ve got an audience. Say the wrong (or right) thing, and suddenly the world knows who you are. Post an inflammatory status message or an embarrassing photo, and suddenly that employer who was considering you decides it might be best to look elsewhere.
I’ve been saying this for a while now, and I’ll say it again: social networks are not private places.
It’s honestly something we’re all aware of, on some level. We know that there are millions of other people on Facebook and Twitter. We understand that, on some level. I like to think that most of us know to keep the most compromising stuff on Facebook hidden from all but our closest friends, to keep our twitter account well away from our personal life, if need be.
Yet how many of us actually do that? How many of us own our privacy, and take the integrity of our data -and our reputation- into our own hands? How many of us bother to change our security settings, to consider how every tweet, every update, and every photo is a presentation to the world of who we are as a person?
How many of us understand how easy it is to track a person down?
Fewer than half of users on Facebook and Google + even vaguely understand the privacy policies(not that privacy policies aren’t broken and effectively useless, anyway). This is, undoubtedly, a huge problem, and one that we need to address – but this is not the time or place. Instead. I’m going to show you all how to make the public setting of your social network just a little more private – it’s the least you can do for yourselves. Note that removing a profile from search results could take up to a month or more.
Google +: Unfortunately, there’s no way to make your Google + profile completely private. The most you can do is hide it so that it doesn’t appear in Google’s search results. After logging in to your Google + profile, navigate to your profile, and click “Edit Profile” up at the top right. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and look for a setting titled “Profile Discovery.” The box next to “Help others discover my profile results in search” will be checked. Uncheck it.
Facebook: Believe it or not, Facebook actually has some fairly comprehensive privacy settings. Click on the arrow at the top right corner of the screen, then click on “Privacy Settings. ” From here, you can control who can find your profile, application settings, blocked users, visibility of past posts, visibility of posts made by others. Further, the visibility of every single item you share can be changed. All posts have a privacy button next to “Post/Share,” all photos and albums have privacy settings in the upper right hand corner (it should look like either a small globe or two people standing next to one another), and all items on your profile can be made visible to only a select few individuals (or only to yourself).
Twitter: In the upper right hand corner of your main feed, directly right of the search bar, you’ll see a button with a silhouette of a head. Click on it, then click on “Settings” in the dropdown menu that appears. Scroll down until you reach an option titled “Protect my Tweets,” and click on it. End result? Only people you’ve approved will be able to see your tweets, and no one will be able to retweet you. Unfortunately, any tweet you made before applying the new settings will still be publicly visible and searchable.
Image Credits: [Wright Result]
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