How to Secure Your Facebook Timeline

It's like a scrapbook for stalkers. Can it be secured?

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There's a lot of buzz about the new Facebook Timeline feature. The new Facebook timeline makes your profile look a lot more newspaper-like and lets you take a look down memory lane in an instant.

Before the addition of the Facebook Timeline, you could only visit your Facebook past by clicking the "older entries" link or by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and waiting for the auto-refresh feature to pull older content.

The Facebook Timeline now has a convenient list of years on the right side of the screen. It allows you to easily jump to any moment in your Facebook history.

So what are the security and privacy implications of the Facebook Timeline? First and foremost, the timeline lets your friends and, depending on your privacy settings, complete strangers view a digital comprehensive history of your life.

Law enforcement, potential employers, stalkers, and others who review Facebook profiles will absolutely love the timeline as they can navigate life histories with ease.

While most all of your existing privacy settings are maintained in the Timeline view, there are some settings that you may want to change to make it more secure.

Let's take a look at a couple of steps you can take to make your Facebook Timeline a little safer and more private.

Make All Your Past Posts on Your Timeline Accessible to Friends Only

When you first started using Facebook, you may have had more relaxed privacy settings than you do now.

As a result, some of your older posts may be more public than you want them to be especially since the timeline let's people navigate your older posts with ease.

Rather than having to review the privacy status of each post, Facebook has a feature called "Limit the Audience for Past Posts". This button will change all of your past posts from their current state to "Friends Only".

This is a global change which may impact pictures, videos and other posts that you had previously made public. These items will now be "Friends Only" but if friends are tagged in them then friends of friends may still be able to see them.

To enable the "Limit the Audience for Pasts Posts" feature:

1. Log into Facebook and click on the arrow at the top right corner of the page.

2. Choose "Privacy Settings" from the drop down menu.

3. Click the link that says "Manage Past Post Availability".

You will then be presented with a warning that states: "If you use this tool, content on your timeline you've shared with friends of friends or Public will change to Friends. Remember: people who are tagged and their friends may see those posts as well." It also let's you know that you have the option to individually change the audience of your posts.

4. Click the "Limit Old Posts" button to confirm the permissions change.

Set Your Default Privacy Setting for Future Timeline Posts

Whenever you post something on Facebook in the timeline or otherwise, your default posting permissions are used. For example, if your default setting is for friends only and you post a status update then only your friends will be able to see that status update in your timeline.

You can customize your default setting for all future posts in the privacy settings menu. Here's how to do it:

1. Click the arrow in the top right corner of the screen and choose "Privacy Settings" from the drop down menu.

2. In the middle of the page you will see a section titled "Control Your Default Privacy", choose either "Friends" or "Custom" to select individuals or groups lists. I recommend you DO NOT choose "public" as this let's the world see all of your future posts.

Consider Enabling The Timeline Review And Tag Review Features

There are things that you should never post to facebook. Wouldn't it be nice if you could decide whether or not you wanted something to appear on your Timeline before it was published? For example, you might not want to be tagged in all those pictures of your Bachelor party where things got a little out of hand, or you might want to prevent that dirty joke that your friend just had to post on your wall from getting published. With the timeline review and tag review features you can decide if you want a post to be published prior to it showing up on your Timeline. Here's how to set it up:

1. Click the arrow in the top right corner of the screen and choose "Privacy Settings" from the drop down menu.

2. Click the "Edit Settings" link in the "How Tags Work" section.

3. From the pop-up menu that appears, click the "Off >" link.

4. Click the "Disabled" button from the pop-up window and set it to "Enabled".

5. Click the "Back" button at the bottom of the pop-up window.

6. Choose the "Off >" link from the "Tag Review" section of the pop-up and repeat the steps above to enable Tag Review.

As the Facebook timeline feature matures, there will likely be other privacy settings added or modified, You should check your Privacy Settings page every so often to see what's new.

Check out our Facebook Security, Privacy and Safety site for more articles on how to stay safe on Facebook. We'll give you tips for avoiding Facebook Scams and show you how to tell a Facebook friend from a facebook Hacker

More Facebook Security Resources:

Facebook Safety Tips for Teens
How to Backup Your Facebook Data

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