I recently helped a friend (whose name I shall not mention) sign up for Facebook, and walked said friend through the process of setting up an account.
It occurred to me (through observations among friends and colleagues) that the most recent wave of Facebookers in the U.S. are by definition those who are late to the game, and therefore are least comfortable with the idea of ceding some of their privacy for the benefit of increased connectedness with friends and family.
Here’s a great tutorial that walks through recommended privacy settings on Facebook, although it’s a little outdated. My tips are below:
Privacy settings, privacy settings, privacy settings
Walk through these as soon as you sign up, and make sure you’re comfortable with the amount of information you’ll be sharing with your friends. Here’s an article (with a cool graph) that indicates how few Facebook users visit the privacy settings.
If possible, sit down with a friend who is already on Facebook and have them walk you through it first before you even sign up.
“I just want to be friends…”
You’ll have the option to share a lot of your information on Facebook with your friends, their friends, your entire network (school, city, etc.) or anyone on Facebook. When in doubt, choose “only my friends.”
Better to pick that one by default, because the immense growth of Facebook means that the other options offer ultimately no control over who sees your stuff.
Crawl before you walk…
In general, pick the most limiting privacy settings first. If you’re uncomfortable with an option, opt out. If you’re not sure you want to share something, don’t.
You can always add more later, adjust your privacy settings or upload more information. Better to start prudent and open up more down the road.
Got any more tips to add…?