I was doing my usual online scrolling spree, and I noticed that Facebook has a shiny search innovation that predicts what you’re about to type.
The results appear in order, Google style. The first thing I thought was, ‘Ooooh this must be new’ (I worked in Digital Marketing for four years, I’m a special geek when it comes to this stuff).
Now, you may think this search bar is an innocent feature, but two things sprang to my mind, A) why are strangers names appearing? B) what can people see when they search for me?
I was right to be cautious. Test it for yourself.
1. Click on the search bar (you know that thing you type into to find your next stalking victim).
2. Type in [‘Name Photos’], e.g., Joe Blogs Photos (do this with someone you’re not friends with).
You can see Every. Single. Photo. In one place. Technically Facebook hasn’t done anything wrong because these images are set to public. That person can thank their mates for that. The issue here is that you can see into a strangers life without even being friends with them.
This sh*t is creepy AF.
The aim of this post is to prevent any Tom, Dick & Harry from seeing your old drunken pics from say, 2013.
Okay, so what is the solution to saving your last bit of dignity?
Go to your ‘activity log’ > click photos (left hand side) > change ‘shared with’ to ‘public’. All of these pictures are what strangers can see.
I untagged myself from a total of forty embarrassing photos from 2006 – present. I’ll give you some insight, the worst image involved significant pouting and gun fingers. No potential employer/client ever needs to see that.
Oh, and btw, it doesn’t stop there. You can also search for what people are liking: Type in [‘photos liked *insert friends name*.’] To see what photos other people are liking, it’s that easy. Be mindful of what you like, that is set as ‘public’.
Before I give you my tips, I want to show you the sort of messages that I get on the daily:
I’m super cautious of how I use Facebook. I know that’s ironic as I use Social Media to promote myself as my brand. The downside of being an ‘influencer’ is receiving the dodgiest messages. As a result, I’ve learnt how to be vigilant. (BTW I’m not whinging, I’m very lucky to call this my job, and I choose to put myself out on the WebSphere. Creepers are a symptom of my choice).
Your Guide to a Complete Digital Cleanse
Okay, this is the most common practice. It’s important not to be friends with someone who you’ve never met. If you don’t know them, you don’t know what they’re capable of knowing and doing. Facebook has more personal data about you than you realise. I never accept people I don’t know. Delete anyone you don’t know, right now.
Your ‘About Me’ section
Set all of your personal information like your DOB, where you work, your schools & contact details to private and never public. You don’t want anyone to be able to see this. I’ve had a few friends become a target of fraud as a result.
I had photos albums from 2006 called “R U DIZZY BLAD BEST DAY OUT”. Yeah. The pictures in those albums are hilarious, but I’m not sure I want the new people in my life browsing through them. I’ve set the majority of my photo albums to private so that I’m the only person to look back at the blossoming chav that I was.
Be mindful of tagging yourself at locations if you’re alone and potentially placing yourself at risk. I never post Instagram pictures in real-time.
Limit past posts
In your younger years, you may have posted a witty status or photo & set it public. You wanted everyone to know how funny you were. I don’t blame you. You were a baby cub, audacious and exploring life. My friends, do not fear; at a click of a button you can revert all of these posts, look for a function called ‘limit past posts’. I like this feature because strangers can’t see who comments on my public profile pics.
Ah, Facebook. It’s nothing more than what we deserve – we made it our own. We gave it our data, used it to store our memories, communicate with our loved ones, organised our events and spent too many hours wasting our absent-minded afternoon lust by watching cat videos. There is no doubt that FB has revolutionised the way we communicate.
All it’s doing is responding to our desire, to turn a profit.
I just wish it didn’t make me feel like such a creep.
Location: Napland, London