Facebook Privacy

Yes, this is a bit complicated. I want to try to make Facebook privacy as easy as possible (as of February 2013). This doesn’t cover everything, but hopefully it covers the main concerns most people might have.

General Tips

1) Don’t ever put something in a Facebook post that you would be humiliated if a friend’s friend saw it. Be especially careful if there could be bad consequences if the general public saw it. Accidents happen.

2) Keep especially private things in private messages, not in social media. If it’s meant for just one person, message that person in a private message (either with Facebook messaging/chat or email). Social media is social, not private.

Understanding Privacy Settings

1) You control the privacy of the material you post. Click the button to the left of the Post button to change who can see your post.

2) To change the privacy of something you already posted (photo: Facebook)

3) The privacy of my comments on others’ posts depends on the privacy setting they chose when posting it, not on my privacy settings.

So if I comment on your post, you already controlled who will see my comment when you posted it. If it was posted as a public comment, my comment can be viewed by all my friends and all the friends of the person who posted it. Check the icon on the post: the icon below represents Friends, so all the poster’s friends will see my comment.

 Friends can see this post and all comments.


A globe means public– be careful with those.


Friends of Friends


Check the privacy setting of a post before commenting on it or liking it. Your comment will be visible to either their friends, friends of friends, or anyone, depending on the setting. (There is also a custom setting that can restrict the post from certain people, show only to a particular group, etc.)

4) According to Facebook, public posts can be found by anyone using an Internet search engine.

5) Any photo marked as a profile photo is viewable by anyone, anywhere.

6) To control what gets posted to your timeline (or choose to review posts before they get posted), see this link. (Your timeline is the info below your profile picture.)

7) If you don’t want your birthday year, etc visible to others, adjust those settings by clicking Update Info (under profile pic) and edit your Basic info.

8) The “ticker” or live feed at the upper right of your home page makes it simple for you to “eavesdrop” when one of your Facebook friends says something to someone you don’t know.  The ticker displays everything that your friends are doing on anyone’s post that is public or friends of friends. So beware that lots of people could be seeing your comment depending on the privacy setting of the post or image you are commenting on.

9) If you tag a photo, the friends of the person you tagged can see the photo, regardless of the photo’s privacy setting (with the exception of “only me”). Note that you can control what photos you are tagged in, and you can choose to review tags before they are published.

10) If you include someone’s name in your post (as a tag–that Facebook creates into a link to that person), then that person’s friends can see the post also (unless you adjust the custom sharing settings to not include that person’s friends.)


Helping someone remotely

Join.me enables you to help another person with their computer problems without being right there with them.

Have the person you want to help:

  • go to Join.me
  • click basic
  • click the orange arrow
  • run the downloaded file

Have them tell you the hyphenated number that appears on their screen.

Go to join.me and enter that number under “join” and click the green arrow.

You will see their screen.

The person you are helping can now give you access to their computer by clicking the mouse icon. Now you can operate their computer remotely. Pretty neat!

Note: You will both need a better connection than dial-up for this!

Social Networking

Social networking services like Facebook and Google+ can be both beneficial and detrimental, depending on how they are used. The writer has found Facebook to be useful in sharing the gospel with people who will not come to meetings but are willing to read a post containing seeds of the gospel. Social networking also gives you the potential to meet Christians from other countries, to maintain contact with people you meet at conferences, and to keep up with the development of the Lord’s work in distant places. Also, the spiritual needs of individuals can be revealed by their Facebook activity, enabling you to prayerfully seek to steer them in the right direction.

If you have a thought you have enjoyed from the Scriptures, why not share it? Use friends lists (Facebook) or circles (Google+) to share with a select group. This is a non-obtrusive way to meaningfully enjoy God’s word together with other brothers and sisters in Christ.

A word of caution: the effect of your testimony, whether good or bad, can be multiplied exponentially through social networking. Think before you type. Also, sites like these are time traps: manage your time wisely as a good steward of Jesus Christ!

Pro’s and Cons to Social Media

The most popular is likely Facebook, so for simplicity we’ll talk about that.


  • Many Christians post meditations and thoughts on the Scriptures that are helpful and encouraging.
  • Some missionaries use Facebook to post updates on the work.
  • Facebook enables communication with people you don’t generally have the opportunity to communicate with. If you have a question about something or a prayer request, you can easily let it be known. For instance, the writer may not have known about the death of two missionaries in Zambia had it not been for Facebook, and many more prayers may have gone up to God as a result of its presence there. It is also a good way to tell people you don’t know very well but have some contact with about gospel meetings. If you post a verse or gospel thought, your friends and family will likely read it and be reminded of eternity. This is perhaps one benefit of the not-so-personal aspect of Facebook.
  • A common reason for using Facebook is the ease of sharing photos with friends and family.
  • Facebook can be used to help others. Let’s take the example of a mother whose child spilled hot coffee all over the carpet. She can post on Facebook to see if anyone has a carpet shampooing machine she can use. People interested in helping can post to her status, and only those who respond get a reply when she determines what she wants to do.  If she were to email everyone in her address book, she could be contacting businesses and people 500 miles away who really don’t care about her problem, and if someone “replied to all” she would be clogging up a lot of people’s emails. Finally, it is much more time effective to post a note on Facebook than to search through 500 email contacts or phone numbers and call each person to see if they have a carpet cleaner you can use.


  • You can easily waste time without realizing it.
  • Depending on your friends, some material posted on Facebook can be defiling. If you’re seeing bad information from someone, you can unsubscribe from their news or unfriend them.
  • Some ads may be inappropriate. You can hide them by clicking on the x that appears on the upper right of the ad, and Facebook will get better at showing you more appropriate ads. In general, I have seen improvement in Facebook ad quality so this may no longer be an issue for most people.
  • Facebook can take some of the meaning out of conversations and relationships. God gave us our senses for a reason. It’s harder to connect with someone if you can’t make eye contact, hear their voice, or sense their feelings. You can’t give them a real hug over wi-fi. If you know what is going on in someone’s life already through Facebook, you may be less likely to call them and talk to them in person. But let Facebook be a springboard to more meaningful communication! Nothing says you can’t ask about a trip after seeing some photos on Facebook.
  • Communication in writing is so much more likely to be misunderstood than communication in person. Try to think about how what you write could be taken before submitting it. Writing, when done thoughtfully, can be an advantage in some cases to orderly express your thoughts to someone else in the way you want them explained.
  • It is possible for other people to attempt to ruin your testimony through Facebook. For instance, someone once didn’t log out of their account, which enabled someone else to secretly post derogatory “likes” in their personal information. It wasn’t until some time later that they realized their information had been compromised.
  • Security and Privacy: Don’t think that just because you have tight security settings that others won’t be able to view your photos and information. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want the extended Facebook community to see. Note that anytime someone “likes” something of yours, all of their friends (regardless of whether those people are your friends or not) can then see what you posted.
  • If your information is read by someone with bad intentions, a thief could easily find out when you’re going on vacation.
  • Relationships: When it comes to male/female relationships, I will leave that subject to the more qualified, except for the following: Such relationships are not to be treated lightly. I have attended the funeral of a young man who took his own life after a terminated relationship. Knowing my own emotions, I can see how this could happen. Be careful to not get into something you didn’t want to start in the first place.

So: Don’t let Facebook control you and your time. Let it assist in communication but do not let it be your only communication. Build meaningful relationships by connecting with others through means God has gifted us with outside of the realm of technology.

Tips for managing Facebook time:

  • Try toggl.com to see how much time you are actually spending on Facebook or the Internet. Simply press the start / stop button to track your time. You might be surprised how much of your day this takes up.
  • At the upper-right of a news entry, there is a selection option to show all updates from that person, important ones, or no updates. Use this to hide people you don’t know well or those who post questionable material.
  • Choose what kinds of email notifications you receive. Less emails means less interruptions and time better spent.


Video technology like Skype is beneficial to families (including missionaries) that are separated by many miles, enabling them to connect more meaningfully with their loved ones. Also, the writer has friends who use the video chat feature of Google+ to conduct live Bible studies, since they live too far away from each other to have them in person. They use Google docs to collaboratively work on and discuss the study outlines.



You might consider adding a favorite verse or website to your emails using a custom signature.

Problem with hacked accounts:

Since email hacking is such a common problem and becomes a headache for many, to prevent spreading computer disease, make sure your email account has a password that is not easily calculated, or you could be a target of hackers who send spam through you! A common sign of someone getting access to your account is if people tell you they got an email from you with a weird link in it that you didn’t send. This has happened to at least eight people in the writer’s contacts. The best practice is to use a password that is at least eight characters long, is not a dictionary word, and contains a mixture of upper/lower case letters or numbers.