How do you improve Facebook privacy? Change these settings now!

Facebook has had a troubling time with privacy issues and there are some things you can’t change. However, some privacy settings are down to you. Change these settings to boost privacy.

The settings in the iPhone Facebook app are examined here, but Facebook is available everywhere, on the iPhone, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Windows PC and Apple Mac. The changes you make on your phone are applied everywhere and if you don’t want to use a phone, the settings can be found at the Facebook website on your desktop computer as well.

Facebook is constantly evolving and faced with privacy issues recently, GDPR and so on, the privacy settings in the app have changed. When did you last check them? Don’t rely on default settings because these may be set to ebenefit Facebook, not you. Here are the settings you need to check and customise to improve to fix Facebook privacy.

1 Hide your location

There are many ways to determine your location and I am not sure it is possible to block them all, but you can block the obvious method of asking iPhone where you are. Turn off location services for Facebook to increase your privacy.

  1. Go to the phone’s Settings
  2. Press Privacy
  3. Press Location Services
Enable or disable location services in iPhone settings
Should Facebook never know your location?

There is a master switch to turn disable it for all apps, but it can be useful for some, like Maps, so leave it enabled and press Facebook in the apps list. Set it to Never to prevent Facebook from knowing your location.

2 Limit location sharing

You might not want to completely disable Facebook because it can provide some useful features, like finding events near you, but if location services are enabled, you should limit them for privacy.

  1. Open the Facebook app
  2. Press the menu button in the bottom right corner
  3. Expand the Settings & Privacy section
  4. Press Privacy shortcuts
  5. Tap Manage your location settings
Customize Facebook location settings on the iPhone
If Facebook uses your location, set the other options

There are several settings here and Nearby Friends enables you to share your location with friends. Is this useful or do you value your privacy more? Turn it off to increase privacy – you are not just sharing your location with friends, but Facebook too.

Tap Find Wi-Fi and this is a Facebook service that examines your location and finds nearby Wi-Fi hotspots. Turn it off for increased privacy, you can manage without it.

Facebook tracks everywhere you go and stores it if the Location History switch is turned on. If it is on, press View your location history to see a list of places you visited that Facebook has tracked. Turn off the Location History switch to increase Facebook privacy.

If you are concerned about apps knowing where you are, it is possible to hide your location using a VPN. This establishes a secure connection to the internet and you can choose where in the world you want to appear to be. You could appear to be in a different city or even a different country. There are many VPNs to choose from and I have used NordVPN, Ivacy, ProtonVPN and others.

3 Control face recognition

Several years ago Facebook created face recognition software and incorporated it into the app. The idea was that it could recognise faces in the photos you upload and automatically tag them or make it easier for your to find and tag photos.

in some parts of the world face recognition is not allowed for privacy reasons or is disabled by default. Do you live in an area where face recognition is allowed and is enabled by default? Best check.

  1. Go to the Facebook menu
  2. Press Settings & Privacy
  3. Press Privacy shortcuts
  4. Press Control face recognition
Facebook face recognition options in the iPhone app settings

Tap through the next screen to the option to enable or disable face recognition. Select No for increased privacy.

4 Who sees what on Facebook?

  1. Go to the Facebook menu
  2. Press Settings & Privacy
  3. Press Privacy shortcuts
  4. Press See more privacy settings
Facebook visibility settings. Control who sees what

Scroll down to the Your Activity section and there are several options to check and set. For example, Who can see your future posts and Limit who can see past posts, Who can see your friends list and more. Tap each of the sections and choose the settings you want. You can limit some items so that only friends can see them.

5 Stop sharing apps and websites

Facebook tracks you as you browse the web and you may have used Facebook to log in to some sites because it is quicker and easier than going through the process of setting up an account using an email address and password. A couple of clicks on the Facebook login option gets you into many sites.

Apps you install on your phone often want you to connect your Facebook account. It is very common in games for example, but other apps sometimes do it too.

However, this is not good for privacy and it enables not only Facebook, but possibly the whole world to see which sites and apps you use.

  1. Go to the Facebook menu
  2. Press Settings & Privacy
  3. Press Privacy shortcuts
  4. Press See more privacy settings
  5. Press Check a few important settings
  6. Tap Next

There are three sections. The first enables you to choose who sees your posts, and the options are Public, Friends, Friends except, Specific friends and Only me (tap the More link to see them all).

Tap Next and you can choose who can see your phone number, birthday, email, and so on. Set these as you prefer.

The third step is Apps and Websites and it shows the apps and sites you log into and who can see your logins – public, friends, only you and so on. Go through the list and set them as you prefer. Choosing Only me is obviously the most private setting.

Sometimes apps want to post to your feed and setting them to Only me prevents them from pestering friends with updates saying you have just achieved level XYZ on some game or other achievement.

Facebook app and website sharing options

You might want to remove items for apps you no longer have or websites you no longer visit. Over the years you probably have abandoned dozens of apps and websites, but they are still there in your account. Select them and tap Remove at the bottom of the screen.

6 Configure your ad preferences

It would be nice if there was an option to block ads completely, but there isn’t. It is how Facebook makes most of its money, so they are not going away. The best you can do is limit them and there are a few controls for doing this.

  1. Go to the Facebook menu
  2. Press Settings & Privacy
  3. Press Privacy shortcuts
  4. Press Review your ad preferences in the Ad preferences section

Tap Your information and there are switches that determine whether Facebook can show ads based on your relationship, employer, job title and education. Advertisers use this to select the audience they want to show an advert to. Do you want them to be able to target you or would you prefer not to share these details. Use the switches to select your preferences.

Don't share relationships on Facebook

Return to the Ad Preferences screen and press Ad settings. There are three sections and they give you some control over the ads that are shown. Tap each one, read the description, which can be quite extensive, and choose the option you want at the bottom.

The greatest privacy is by setting the three sections to Not allowed, Not allowed and No one.

7 Limit your Facebook profile

Facebook gathers a lot of information from your activities, such as likes, shares, posts, and websites you visit. There is little you can do to prevent this. However, you should limit what is stored in your user profile.

Facebook may prompt you to add information, like your employers, education, places you have lived, contact information, relationship and so on. Resist the temptation and prompts to fill out your profile.

Although Facebook tries to limit what people can see or what third parties can access, you should only share information that you consider public. If you would not post or say something in public, don’t put it in your user profile. For example, you don’t have to enter your education, your phone number, places you have lived, and Facebook will work perfectly fine without this information.

Press the user profile button at the bottom of the Facebook home screen and then tap Edit Profile. Edit each of the sections and limit what you share.

Facebook profile and About
Do not enter anything you don’t want to share

Tap the link at the bottom, Edit your About info. Tap the pencil icon next to each section to edit the information. Most sections have a control that enables you to choose who can see the information. Tap the button and the options are Public, Friends and More options.

Tap that last one and there is an Only Me option, which stops anyone else from seeing something. If you enter your phone number in Facebook for example, there is a Family option which lets family members see it, but no-one else.

8 Don’t check in

Checking in to places might be fun sometimes, but you are sharing your location with everyone. Think twice before doing it. Checking in when you are on holiday for example, announces that your home is empty for the next week or two. Could burglars use this information? It is unlikely, but why risk it?