5 Facebook Privacy Settings Everyone Should Understand

by Devin Sugameli In the wake of all the news surrounding Facebook's changes to its Privacy Policy, many found themselves scrambling to make adjustments accordingly. But there are plenty of privacy settings on Facebook that have been available for a while that you may have missed earlier. Below are our top 5 most important old and new Facebook privacy settings to understand:

1. "Connections" (Privacy Settings -> Friends, Tags, and Connections) - "Connections" are new and confusing to a lot of people. Facebook more or less defines a "connection" as anything with which you choose to associate yourself - meaning your friends, favorite movies, websites, activities, and even your hometown. Previously, these sorts of items merely constituted a static list of biographical interests displayed on your profile's Info tab. Now each interest you list will be connected to an accompanying business or community page. Facebook provides a thorough description of the update here. If you'd like to limit public access to information regarding any of your profile connections, you can adjust your settings on the new "Friends, Tags, and Connections" section of your Privacy Settings (accessible via the "Account" drop down menu in the upper-right corner of your Facebook page).

2. Instant Personalization Pilot Program (Privacy Settings -> Applications and Websites) - The Instant Personalization Pilot Program might be the single most controversial of the recent additions to Facebook's privacy settings. Enrolling in this program enables Facebook to share your information with a few select partner websites (Yelp, Pandora, and Microsoft Docs.com to start) in order to better personalize your experience while visiting these sites. One can certainly argue that increased personalization with less effort will make for a more enjoyable experience web-wide for all users. However, there are those who aren't so comfortable as to share this information freely, and the reason this program is so controversial is that all users are automatically enrolled unless they manually adjust the setting that applies to it. To opt-out, go to the "Applications and Websites" section of your settings, then find the "Instant Personalization Pilot Program" at the bottom of the list, click to "Edit Setting" and uncheck the box on the next page.

3. Public Search Results (Privacy Settings --> Search) - Though this setting and the two following have all been available to users for a good while now, many still aren't aware of it. By default, your Facebook profile can be found on search engines like Google. However, if you'd like to ensure that your profile can only be discovered via Facebook's own search engine, you can uncheck the box next to the "Public Search Results" setting on this page.

4. Photos and Videos of Me (Privacy Settings -> Friends, Tags, and Connections) - We've all heard stories about employees fired from their jobs or students suspended from school in response to incriminating photos or videos posted on Facebook. Even if you're careful in regards to your own photo and video uploads, your friends might not exercise the same restraint. Rather than hope to catch and untag any potentially embarrassing or damaging items before somebody less understanding does, you can prohibit certain groups of individuals from seeing photos and videos of you that are uploaded and tagged by others outright. Simply return to the "Friends, Tags, and Connections" section of your privacy settings and click to edit "Photos and Videos of Me".

5. What Your Friends Can Share About You (Privacy Settings --> Applications and Websites) - Whether or not you personally connect with various Facebook applications, you may be sharing more with them than you think. Many Facebook applications require access to certain pieces of information in order to work. A calendar or e-card application, for example, might need access to your or your friends' birthdays so that it can send you prompts and alerts when a special day is near. What many of us don't realize when rejecting application invites from a friend is that our friends might be the ones inadvertently sharing our information. To limit the kind of information your friends can share about you with an application, head over to the "Applications and Websites" section and click to edit "What your friends can share about you".

While we do of course always advise that you refrain from sharing anything online that would be truly embarrassing for you, we also realize that Facebook's extensive privacy options reflect real privacy concerns even as we choose to share more and more about ourselves with the world. Did we nail all the important ones? What are the most important privacy settings to you?