How to Control New Facebook Privacy Settings

ANALYSIS

 @redletterdave on September 28 2011 4:56 PM
Sharing is the focus of new Facebook, but not everyone wants to share everything.
Sharing is the focus of new Facebook, but not everyone wants to share everything. Reuters/Robert Galbraith

Facebook's new Timeline and Open Graph understandably creep some people out. After all, the new features provide others with access to what you read, what you watch, what you listen to, where you go running, and if they still can't find what they're looking for on your profile, Timeline provides a fully-detailed scrapbook of your entire life.

Facebook has partnered with more than a dozen companies including Netflix, Spotify, and the Washington Post, to help users discover interesting and relevant content through their friends. However, if you connect to these apps through Facebook, Open Graph automatically publishes your activity to your friends' Tickers. This can be a problem if you don't want your friends to know you read recaps of Dancing with the Stars, or listen to Rebecca Black non-stop.

Not everyone wants to share their entire life stories. Thankfully, there are plenty of privacy settings for each of these apps, and they are all easily accessible and customizable.

The first time a user connects to an application through Facebook, a box will pop up asking you to log in and add the application to Timeline. In the same box, users have an opportunity to choose the application's default visibility. For example, one can choose to make all stories from the Washington Post Social Reader visible to the public, to friends of friends, to friends only, friends and networks, or only you. Choose your preferred level of privacy and connect.

The tricky thing is keeping tabs on all of these applications. Unlike the old version of Facebook, Open Graph doesn't need permission to publish any and every action to your wall. For instance, Pandora, Kobo, and Nike+ apps all automatically publish what you're listening to, reading, or where you're running.

The best way to view all of your application settings is by accessing the App Settings page, which is found in the Account Settings menu. Here, users can customize their audiences for each connected app, or remove it completely if they're not happy with it. Privacy settings for each individual post can also be changed directly on Timeline, but if privacy isn't enough, all sections and posts can also be deleted entirely as well.

Managing individual posts can become difficult, however, especially for long-time users. After all, once users get the new Facebook, their Timeline will automatically populate with old stories, tags, photos, and highlights.

Your main privacy settings only apply to new posts, however. If you had public privacy settings before, all of your old posts will populate your Timeline and will appear public.

To limit the visibility of old posts to just friends, visit the Privacy Settings page and select Limit the Audience for Past Posts. If you don't want anyone to see the posts at all, unfortunately you'll have to go back and delete each of those posts individually.

Individual stories can be deleted or hid from Timeline by clicking the drop down arrow on the top right corner of each story.

Facebook says it plans to roll out Timeline and Open Graph to its 800 million users over the next few weeks.

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