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How to Block Searches Of Your Facebook Profile

Limit Facebook searches of your personal information

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Facebook is the most popular social networking site on the Web today, with literally hundreds of millions of users. People from all over the world use Facebook to reconnect with friends and find new ones. However, many people are (understandably) concerned about their private information, such as addresses, phone numbers, family photos, and workplace info, being made available to anyone who clicks on their Facebook user profile.

By default, your Facebook user profile is open to the public ("everyone"), meaning that anyone who is logged into the site can instantly access whatever you have posted. According to the official Facebook privacy policy, this has ramifications beyond just Facebook:

"Information set to "everyone" is publicly available information, just like your name, profile picture, and connections. Such information may, for example, be accessed by everyone on the Internet (including people not logged into Facebook), be indexed by third party search engines, and be imported, exported, distributed, and redistributed by us and others without privacy limitations. Such information may also be associated with you, including your name and profile picture, even outside of Facebook, such as on public search engines and when you visit other sites on the internet. The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to "everyone.""

If you wish to keep your Facebook profile private, you must change your security settings. Here's how you do that:

  • Log in to your Facebook account.
  • Click on "Account", then "Privacy Settings".
  • Under the heading "Connecting on Facebook", select "View Settings".
  • Select the level of privacy you are comfortable with for each feature. For example, if you don't want people to be able to search for you on Facebook and view your private information, under the heading "Search for you on Facebook", you would choose "Friends Only", which would limit the viewing and sharing of your information only to those people you have a personal relationship with.
  • Preview your profile to ensure that your settings are where you want them.
  • Next, you'll want to control how your information is shared. Under the heading "Sharing on Facebook", select how secure you want what you share on Facebook to be. Remember, if you don't want people you don't know to be able to see what you're doing, you'll want to severely limit this information ("Friends Only" is the preferred setting for the highest security).

Note: Facebook's privacy and security settings change often. Unfortunately, Facebook changes the way they protect and/or share your personal information on a regular basis, often without prior notification. It's up to you, the user, to make sure that your Facebook search settings are set to the level of privacy and security that you are comfortable with.

If you are not sure how secure your Facebook search settings are, you can use ReclaimPrivacy.org. This is a free tool that scans your Facebook privacy settings to see if there are any holes that need patching. However, this tool should NOT substitute for careful checks of your Facebook security settings on a regular basis.

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