A lot of people are quarantined or at least home a lot more, as many things have been cancelled. This is a great time to go through your digital life and clean things up. This post is to help people who may know they should clean up their facebook, but don’t know how or where to start.
I will go through some basic clean up steps here, to help those who don’t know where to look. This involves who can see your posts and activity, but also what companies you are giving access to your information and your friends list. To do this work, I highly recommend you do this on a computer (PC or Mac). I will be going through these steps, and including pics, based on doing this from an HP laptop, with Windows 10, and a Firefox browser.
One obvious step is going through your friends list. Personally, I keep my facebook to only people I know in real life (IRL). This is something I imposed on myself years ago. I post pictures of my family and friends’ kids, and I don’t want strangers having access to those pics.
I also figure that people I don’t know IRL can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, if they like. I consider those platforms as intentionally public ones, while facebook is set up in a way that allows us to connect with friends and family in group settings, which can be exclusively controlled by you.
Review your Friends
To check your friends list, do the following steps. On your facebook home page (your feed), click your name on the top, to the right of the search bar.
On your profile page, scroll down and on the left side under the Photos section, you will see a Friends section. Click on the Friends title/link.
You will see a series of your friends, in 2 columns. Scroll through and review how they are set. There are a few options. Hover over the box on the right side, of any friend, for whom you want to adjust their connection with you.
- The default will look like a ✓, and this indicates they are a friend. This is the mid-range connection to have with someone.
- A contact card means they are set as an “acquaintance”. This would be the lowest level of connection.
- A star means they are “close” friends. This is the highest level of connection.
- You can also create lists and add people to those. This allows you to share posts with just a list of people, instead of all of facebook. This is the equivalent of the permissions on your posts, where you set the post as visible to friends or public. You can create a work list, or others that are target a specific group of people.
- Finally, this is where you can unfriend someone.
Hover down to the choice you want, and single-click that option. Here is more info on those different friends categories and how they can be useful in keeping your digital landscape tidy. https://www.facebook.com/help/200538509990389
My recommendation is, do a first sweep and any you are not really in contact with, who do not bring joy to your life, or you don’t know, maybe clean those up first. Others you are not sure about, jot their names down in a note (on on your computer or on paper). Think about those, check their feed over later, and take some time to consider if you want to unfriend, or just unfollow. If you cannot unfriend someone, you might just unfollow them, so that you don’t see their posts, but also don’t hurt any feelings, by unfriending them.
To un-follow, just click their name or search to find them and on their profile page, just click the drop down to un-follow them. You can do this on your phone too, so no picture. Comment below if you need more assistance with this.
Now comes the main attraction in this clean up. Settings. On the top of the facebook page, on the right side of the navigation bar, is an upside down triangle. Single-click this, and you will see a drop down menu. Hover down to Settings, and single-click that option.
I am not going to go through every section here, but it is a good idea to go through this a couple of times a year, or on a schedule that is appropriate for how much you use this platform.
Settings – Privacy
You can allow people to find you by your email here, or not allow that. Same with your phone number. By limiting it to your friends, it means only they can see this information tied to your account.
The next section includes something a lot of people care about, which is what people see on your timeline and who can see posts or items you are tagged on, including photos.
Timeline and Tagging
Edit any you wish you adjust, by single-clicking the Edit on the right. Click View As to view your profile as the public sees your information. When you click Vew As you will be taken to a new page, that will look like your profile, but have a message for you to see first.
When you are done looking around, single-click on the back arrow in your internet browser to get back to the Settings – Privacy – Timeline and Tagging page. I will say, I am disappointed that they don’t have a drop down where the Public marker is, on the View As page. You should be able to see what close friends see, acquaintances, and each list. What if you posted something to the wrong list, but didn’t really notice, because that setting marker is small on the post, and we don’t think about it? Why not show the differences here? Just a thought.
Now I want to jump down to one that I think many people will find is a mess with devious stuff. This is what I want people to really check out. It’s like cleaning up junk mail, but do it now, and be more careful going forward.
Apps and Websites
Every time you take a quiz, or play a game, or sign into an account using your facebook account, you are giving a company access to your information. It varies what they have access to, and whether or not they can check for any changes/updates you have made to your info.
These apps and websites are listed in 3 categories of having authorization by you, to access your information. These are active, expired, and removed. Active are apps or websites that have an active connection to your information. They can store it, and they can check facebook for any updates you make to the information you are allowing them to access. This can be name, email, friends list, birthday or other info.
Expired means if they had rights previously, but now they cannot check for updates. If your recently changed your info, they may not have that change. They are allowed to store your information still. Removed means they must destroy your digital information, or any replication (likeness) of it.
See how many you have. Clean up ones who no longer need access to your friends lists. You’re doing your friends a favor too. This is how tech targets us.
On Twitter and IG, I simply suggest going through the list of people and accounts you follow. Are you following a lot of accounts that aren’t really active? Do any of the accounts not interest you any more? These accounts dictate what you see in your feed, so periodically clearing them out will clean up your feed. If you like these tips and want more, let me know in the comments and I will work on others.
Thank you for coming to my Virtual Spring Digital Cleaning (not really a) Ted Talk.