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Protecting Your Privacy and Embracing Facebook Graph Search

There is a lot of confusion surrounding Facebook’s Graph Search, particularly when it comes to privacy. Let us clear that up for you.

Facebook sure has come a long way from its inception almost 10 years ago. A universal theme throughout its existence has been how to maintain one’s privacy, while remaining social.

Many people were already worried about privacy settings and how to control access to their private information—enter Graph Search which makes it even easier for people to search your Facebook activity, and is steadily becoming available to all U.S. Facebook users.

How do you keep your privacy? Up in the right hand corner of your Facebook screen, you will find a padlock. When you click on it, you will be given some choices:

Who can see my stuff?

Who can contact me?

How do I stop someone from bothering me?

When you click on the arrows beside any of these, you will see a variety of options that will allow you to decide everything from who can see any of your future posts (public, friends, friends except acquaintances, or only me), to which messages end up in your inbox, and who can send you friend requests.

Hopefully you already have your profile on lock, but if not, now is the perfect time to explore these settings. Facebook makes it remarkably easy to filter who sees what, labeling people as close friends, friends, or acquaintances, or putting them into another custom list. You have complete control over each custom list’s unique privacy settings.

For example, if you have a vendor list, you can post things that pertain to inventory needs or supplies, and make it visible to only the people on your vendors list. Or, you can create a VIP list, and offer inside scoops to anyone on that custom list.

Facebook lists are a great way to decide the visibility of your posts. By putting people into lists you are able to still make the same Facebook posts, but they will only be visible by the people on the list you choose to share it with.

If you go into your friends and scroll over the bar next to their name, you will be given the option of customizing what you see from them, and labeling them so that you can limit what they see from you.

For example, only the people I label as close friends see every post I make, or every photo I upload to Facebook. Just about everyone else is labeled as an acquaintance, and they will only see posts that I label as visible to “all friends,” which mainly consist of shared articles or my professional posts.

So what does this mean for Graph Search?

Graph Search does not share everything with everyone—it will only share what you allow it to share. So, if you have a post or a photo’s visibility set to:

Only Me; no one else will find it

Friends; only friends (excluding anyone labeled as an acquaintance) will see it in their Graph Search results

Friends Except Acquaintances; only your few and closest friends will be able to find it via Graph Search

Public; it is visible to anyone and everyone on Facebook using Graph Search

If you’re worried about your privacy on Facebook, then you may want to explore these settings.

Graph Search may be scary for some personal profiles—just ask Tom Scott, who created a Tumblr for embarrassing finds via the search engine. However, for businesses that use it correctly, it levels the playing field between small, local businesses and corporate machines.

Business owners and marketers alike are already talking about the ways they plan to use the search to better identify their target audiences (searching what they like, where they go and who they know), recruit new employees, build stronger communities, and acquire new customers.

If you’re a local business, encourage people to check-in or share via Facebook that they love your french toast – encourage them to leave reviews, and post your special offers and discounts on your Facebook page. All of these things will increase the likelihood of your business showing up in Graph Search, leading to you being discovered by more people.

As for personal profiles, it may be time to reevaluate your privacy settings, clean house and limit your past posts.

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