Facebook has been going through something like a crazy-adolescent party phase recently, with indiscriminate Likes and mass posts being—still—the order of the day. This translates to an enormous open window into your life where anybody can find out with two clicks all your hobbies, tastes, and preferences. If you add to these considerations a friends list that’s gotten quite out of hand and the four dozen apps associated with your account that you don’t even remember using, it’s feasible that situations might arise when your account causes you more serious problems than you might have imagined.
Friends vs. Acquaintances
Do you seriously have more than 300 friends? Your correspondent isn’t exactly a media superstar, and in Real Life™ has at a stretch probably 30 friends that can be probably regarded as such. The others are acquaintances or people that passed through my life leaving a greater or lesser imprint. Thus, I don’t often stumble on many reasons to publicize everything I do or have just done to people I know nothing about, and even less so when considering the dangers involved in being a hopeless digital exhibitionist.
Facebook has many ways of letting you limit what your contacts see. One of the most practical is displaying your posts only to a certain subgroup of friends by categorizing them with a different definition. If you go to the Friends section on your wall and hover your mouse over the name of a contact, you’ll see an option called Acquaintances. By ticking a contact as such, their posts will no longer be visible on your wall unless you specify otherwise, although you can go much further.
Any of the sections on your wall can be limited to a certain group. You have to go to Settings > Privacy, click Edit on the option Who can see your future posts? and click Friends > More options > Custom. If in the Don’t share this with section you type in Acquaintances, you’ll have a special slot to place those contacts that you don’t want to delete but do want to keep from seeing all your posts.
I don’t know what you’d think about someone who walked around the street with a poster hanging from his neck that said “I like sunflower seeds, Charlie Chaplin films, and smoking dope.” But this is basically what every Facebook user does when they have too many Likes on their account. Obviously no one is going to be able to steal your identity on the basis of this information, but I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable knowing that the entire world knows every detail about the sites I visit, the music I’m listening to, and the foods I like.
Imagine if you’re a mega Beatles fan and one of the passwords you use on various websites is yellowsubmarine. Should some sort of malicious user decide to do a little social-network stalking, you might find yourself in some hot water.
In the More drop-down menu on your timeline you can manage all the sections that appear on your wall. By clicking on Manage for any group or for the Likes section you can hide it either from your wall or from certain contacts, which is especially useful if you use the Acquaintances category mentioned in the previous section. In addition, there are tools like Like Cleanser, a web service that reviews your account and displays a list of all your Likes to make it easier to delete them.
Pete just sent you a request for chocolate coins to build his lollipop castle on Candy Crush Saga! Just what I needed to know! Auto-posts from apps associated with your Facebook account are evil in its purest form. While using your social login to use certain programs speeds up the registration process, you have to keep in mind that some of your details are used by third parties to promote themselves on your networks. You’re certainly familiar with those invites that notify you that your cousin and your brother-in-law are now playing Farmville.
You can see your associated apps in Settings > Apps. From there you can either hide posts from this app or simply deauthorize them entirely and remove all traces of your interaction with them. You may be in for a real surprise if you’ve never logged in to this section before. Every game or program that you’ve ever tried on Facebook appears here, so it’s a good time to rid yourself of that albatross and clean your ship, especially if you don’t even remember having ever used certain apps that appear that.