Facebook privacy – ensuring your info is safe

Posted on: Thursday, 24 May 2018.

While many people have held concerns for years over Facebook’s use of personal data, it’s only in the wake of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal that the issue has dominated international headlines.

Facebook may be a social network to its users, but to businesses and organisations, it’s a highly effective advertising platform. In exchange for being able to use this social network, users provide their personal data, which is then used for targeting by advertisers.

So how can you ensure you and your family (and especially your children) are using Facebook safely?


Before you go any further, its best to actually check what your current Facebook privacy settings are.

The easiest way to do this is through the quick help menu in the top right hand corner of the page (click the question mark icon). Here you’ll find the privacy check-up wizard, which will show you who can see your posts, what apps have access to your data, and the visibility of your personal information.

The privacy shortcuts menu is also a handy way to set who can actually see your future posts, who can send you friend requests, and allows you to block other users.


Most relevant to the Cambridge Analytica scandal is how Facebook can use your data for advertising purposes.

Facebook does allow you to specify how much of your personal information can be used by businesses to target ads at you. You can also block ads relating to certain types of products or subjects, including alcohol, parenting, or pets.

You can access the ad preferences (see below) through the privacy shortcuts in the quick help menu.

This is a great way to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe online, and your personal data isn’t going to fall into the hands of anyone you don’t want it to.


If you’re concerned about being tagged in things that anyone can see, timeline review is a useful feature. You can set it so you must manually approve posts you’ve been tagged in, before they go to your timeline. Facebook also offers other controls over your timeline, including who can post on your timeline and who can view it.

To check out timeline review, click through to your activity log. This can be found in the dropdown menu next to the quick help menu (look for the little arrow pointing down).

For broader concerns about privacy, including who can see what, Facebook has several menus dedicated to privacy in its main settings pane. That main settings pane is in the same dropdown menu as the activity log.

These settings will allow you to limit who can see what you post (eg whether friends of friends can see your posts, or only your friends); who can see your friends list; who can see your email address; and whether you’re okay with your Facebook profile being identified by outside search engines like Google.


Perhaps one of the more unsettling features of Facebook is facial recognition. If you post a photo, Facebook has the technology to figure out who is in the photo based on facial recognition. This feature has actually been banned in Europe for a few years.

If you do not wish for Facebook to be able to recognise you in image, you can turn off this function through the facial recognition menu in the main privacy settings pane (see above).

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