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What is Safe to Leave Public on Facebook?

Profile customization and privacy settings help users choose which information to share — but Facebook’s data policy presents some user concerns.

With more than 1.79 billion users worldwide, Facebook has taken precautions since its infancy to protect its users’ privacy and account security. Facebook users can share as much information publicly on their profiles as they choose to. However, Facebook’s data collection policy causes some concerns for users.

It’s also important to keep in mind that even if you keep most of your information private on Facebook, there’s still the danger of thieves or nosy friends and family infiltrating your account. For instance, what if your phone is stolen and a thief is able to open Facebook? What if your little sibling looks through your phone when you’re distracted and opens Facebook? To add a second password to your Facebook account, activate Applock now:

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Be Wary of the Information You Make Public

When creating an account, a Facebook user has the option to choose which information he or she would like to make public. This could include a user’s education, work history, email address, phone number, and birthday, among additional information.

Luckily, Facebook does have a feature that allows users to preview how their profile appears to the public as well as their friends. Users also have the ability to choose whether their profile can be found in search engine results, and if they can be searched for on Facebook itself.

Choose Your Audience

When posting via Facebook, users can also select an audience for their content: public, friends, friends of friends, or just themselves. This feature gives users the freedom to choose what they share with the public beyond the basic information found in their profiles. While this feature helps users control their privacy, they should keep in mind that Facebook defaults some profile updates to “public.” It’s up to users to change the audience of the post.

The most cautious approach to customizing your Facebook profile would be to provide no public information, not make your profile visible in search engine results, and to not make your profile searchable within Facebook as well.

Data Sharing

Facebook’s data sharing policy is another important factor users should consider when choosing what information to publicly provide on their profiles. Many games, websites, and applications offer a “log in with Facebook” option when creating an account. While this is convenient for users, it also allows these third-party sites to access their public profiles, friend’s list, and more.

If users wish to authorize these third-party sites via their Facebook account, they can again be extra cautious of what they’re sharing publicly. They can be sure to leave any contact information private, and to only include work and education information if they wish to connect with classmates or colleagues on Facebook.