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Facebook Privacy: 10 Must-Know Security Settings

Facebook's seemingly endless tweaks to privacy and security settings leave many people wondering: How secure is my Facebook account? We've rounded up the 10 most important settings for you to check.

Sorting Out Facebook Security

Updates to the interface, new features, opt-in vs. opt-out... Keeping up with Facebook's constantly evolving landscape--and the way it affects the security and privacy of your account--can be a challenge.

We've done the work for you by compiling a list the top 10 most important Facebook privacy settings that affect you, such as whether your profile will appear in a Google search and whether your name will appear in Facebook ads. Visit your account to ensure that these settings are up to date and that your information remains secure.

Facebook Bible: How-To's, Privacy Tips and More

Information Your Friends Can Share About You

When your Facebook friends use games and applications, those apps can request information about other friends--such as you--even if you don't use the app. This information may include your bio, your photos, your political views, and places where you check-in.

To prevent this, go to Account, Privacy Settings, Apps and Websites. Click Edit Settings next to Info accessible through your friends, and uncheck any necessary boxes.

Social Ads

You've probably noticed ads in the margins of your Facebook profile and elsewhere on the site. A "social ad" pairs an advertisement with an action that a friend has taken, such as liking a Page.

To opt-out and ensure that your Facebook actions won't be associated with an ad, open your Account Settings and click the Facebook Ads tab. From the drop-down menu, choose either No one or Only my friends, depending on your preference.

Application Settings

The 'Applications You Use' dashboard gives you a detailed overview of which applications you're using and what information those apps can access.

To view the settings, choose Account, Privacy Settings, Applications and Websites. Then, next to Apps you use choose Edit Settings. Here, you can see which applications you've authorized to interact with your account and when you authorized them, and you can edit the settings or delete the application entirely.

Remote Sign-Out

If you forget to log out of Facebook at the office or elsewhere, you can do so remotely. From Account, choose Account Settings, Account Security. Here, you can choose to receive notifications via SMS or e-mail when a new computer or mobile device logs into your account.

You can also view details of the latest activity: the time, location, and device that accessed your account. If these locations seem suspicious, you can choose end activity to log out of the location.

Facebook Check-Ins

If you have this feature enabled, your Facebook friends can tag you and "check you in" to a place. You receive a notification when you're tagged, and an update is posted on your wall telling your friends where you are and who you're with. You can remove the tag at any time.

If you want to disable the feature, go to Account, Privacy Settings, Customize Settings; scroll to the middle section--'things others share'--and click Edit settings next to Friends can check me in to Places to disable it.

Inclusion in 'People Here Now'

Another important Facebook privacy issue if you use Places is whether you want to be included in a 'People Here Now' list once you check in to a location.

By default, your name and Facebook profile picture appear in the list, which is visible to anyone--friend or not--who checks in to the same location. To disable this setting, visit Account, Privacy Settings, Customize Settings, and uncheck the box at the bottom of the first section that reads Include me in 'People Here Now' after I check in.

Appearing in Search Results

If someone googles your name, the search results may include your Facebook profile, your profile picture, and any other information you've made public.

To turn off this preference, go to Account, Privacy Settings, and choose Edit your settings under 'Apps and Websites'. Click Edit Settings next to the last option, Public search, and uncheck the box to disable it.

One-Time Passwords

Using Facebook on the go in hotels, cafés, or airports jeopardizes your account's security. To combat this, Facebook offers one-time passwords, which you may use if you're concerned about the security of the computer you're working on.

To receive your one-time password, text "otp" to 32665 (FBOOK) on your mobile phone, and you'll receive a password that can be used only once and expires in 20 minutes. This feature is only available in the United States.

Photo Albums

You may have set photos of you to be private, but what about your photo albums? You may not realize that the albums titled 'Profile Pictures', 'Mobile Uploads', and 'Wall Photos' are usually visible by everyone, unless you edit your privacy settings.

Open your Privacy Settings page and choose Customize settings. At the bottom of the first section, click Edit album privacy. Here you'll see every one of your photo albums, and the assigned privacy settings for each.

Instant Personalization

If you visit a site that supports Instant Personalization--Bing, Pandora, Yelp, or any of a number of others--you'll see which of your friends have "liked" certain artists or news stories and be able to browse reviews that they've posted. Instant Personalization uses information that you made public on your Facebook profile to make recommendations.

To opt out, visit your Privacy Settings page, and choose Edit your settings under 'Apps and Websites' at the bottom. Scroll to the bottom, click Edit Settings next to Instant personalization, and uncheck the box on the next page.

Facebook Bible: How-To's, Privacy Tips and More