How to Facebook right

Jun 02, 2013, 05:30 IST | Rajiv Dingra

We know you can't resist telling the world what you had for breakfast. But know this: your social media footprint stays forever and the Internet has a long memory. Deleting that footprint is an extreme step, but you can certainly manage it better, says Rajiv Dingra

Admit it, you’re one of the millions obsessed with social media. And because your smartphone offers it all, you’re logged on to at least two or three social media platforms at all times. Given the extent of your social media usage, it should hardly come as a surprise that you’re leaving a strong footprint behind which can, in fact, be mapped back to who you are and what exactly you do.

These days, many companies conduct background checks and actually use social media to know more about you. Your social media trail tells a lot more about you that you would believe it does. Given the amount of (sometimes unwanted) insight your social media footprint could provide to someone who cares to look it up, people in the West, especially celebrities, are often known to delete their social media footprint.

Deleting one’s social media footprint is difficult but possible. It is, however, an extreme step and is ideally for those who feel all that information out there is now useless to communicate to people. There are ways to restrict who or what one can see on your social profile, and thereby managing your social presence better.

Here are some tips on how one can manage one’s social profile better:

>> Check your digital trail and keep it clean. Search yourself on Google, Yahoo! and other search engines, and clean up anything that doesn’t put you in a positive light. This could be an old blog you wrote or a comment you posted on a forum. >> Limit your profile searchability. Facebook’s default settings allow anyone to find your profile online. You can disable this so that search engines won’t link to your profile. Go to Account — Privacy Settings — Apps and Websites — Public Search (Edit Settings) and uncheck "Enable Public Search”. Or, if you just want to limit parts of your profile, go to Edit Profile and select the privacy level (Public, Friends, Only Me, Custom) for each profile data point using the dropdown boxes to the right.
>> Keep your profile photo appropriate. Be aware that even if you set your privacy settings so you’re searchable but only friends can see your posts and pictures, your name and profile photo are still visible. If so, make sure your photo is what you want to present if someone pulls up your profile.
>> Control who can contact you on Facebook. By default, anyone on Facebook can send you a message. You can change this setting to “friends of friends,” so only people who have a mutual friend can contact you. Click Account - Privacy Settings - How You Connect. For greater control, the “friends only” setting will allow only people in your network to contact you.
>> Remove your past posts from public view. A recently added privacy setting, “Limit The Audience For Past Posts” will change content that may previously have been publicly posted to be only viewable by Friends in your network.
>> Take control of tagging on your profile. Facebook’s default settings allow friends to tag you in their photos,  profile posts, and even check you into places - which can be public without your knowledge. Change these settings so only friends can see these posts. Go to “How Tags Work” under Privacy settings and opt out. You can also choose to review all tags |before they are linked to your profile so that your friends don’t have the chance to link embarrassing party photos without your permission.
>> Filter your Friends network. Unless you trust every single one of your Facebook friends 100 per cent, set up different lists with different privacy settings. Click on “Lists” — “Create a List” and select which friends go into which list.
>> Make your Twitter account permission-only. If you have a Twitter account, by default, anybody can view your tweets and follow you. To protect your privacy and tweets, go to Settings - Accounts - and then check “Protect my tweets.” That way people can only follow you and see your tweets if you’ve given them permission to do so. Or, change your Twitter name. If you want to make your Twitter account public but not associated with your name, change your name by clicking on “Settings” on the drop down menu at the top right corner of your profile page (click on the upside-down triangle). Go to the “Accounts” tab and the first listing is “Name”. You can create a different name for yourself.

Be smart and think about everything you post online before you do it. The Internet has a long memory.

Rajiv Dingra is the founder of WAT Consult, a social media agency  

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