With the continuous tremendous amount of growth that Facebook is showing, more and more information about the lives of people is being disseminated. Unfortunately, many individuals have been on Facebook for years, but are still aloof to how unprotected their profile and information is.
Let me begin with a few best practices that all Muslim men and women should implement. For generalization purposes, this post will assume that both men and women have a standard Facebook profile with a couple of 100 friends, pictures and/or videos of themselves uploaded and have basic biographical information about themselves. The descriptions, assumptions or examples that I will relate do not necessarily imply that I agree with them. Also let us clarify one thing right in the beginning. No matter what you do, your name, profile picture, gender, networks, and username can be seen by anyone on Facebook and there is no feature that will allow you to disable this.
The Segmented Friend List
Are you one of those popular individuals whose friends list just keeps growing exponentially? In that case, you might want to start segmenting your friends into relevant groups. For example, as a Muslim girl, you definitely should not be exposing your pictures with makeup on, to men na-mahram to you. As far as men are concerned, please keep your shirts on! What exactly is the purpose of exposing pictures of your built chest, 6 pack abs and toned legs to women. Most men wouldn’t have a reason to upload such pictures after this, as they surely aren’t fishing for comments from their male friends telling them how hot they look. As mentioned in the disclaimer in the start of the article, all examples that I am relating do not imply that I agree that it is okay for women and men to upload such pictures in the first place. They are mere examples based on what happens in reality. So if you are one of those individuals, here is what you should do:
Account –> Edit Friends –> Create List
Go crazy and segment to the best of your abilities. If it is the first time you are doing this and you have a lot of friends, then it may take some time, but it will be well worth it. I highly suggest that you segment the females and males on your friends list primarily and then further segment them as necessary.
Once your friends list is segmented, it will allow you to further customize other security features of your profile by enabling them to be visible or invisible to certain segments.
The Customized Photo Albums
Now that you have segmented your friends list, the next most common application Facebook users utilize are the photo albums. In order for you to customize the, you will need to follow these steps:
Account –> Privacy Settings –> Customize Settings –> Edit privacy settings for existing photo albums and videos
You will see the list of all your albums (as depicted in the image below) and the option to let it be viewable to just you, your friends, friends of your friends or your own custom settings.
Once you are there, you can then start to play with the options and allow only certain segments of people to view the specific album or hide it. Surely, you wouldn’t want a family reunion function album to be visible to every single friend on your profile.
The Unintentional Exposure
Don’t you just hate it when people take your pictures and then upload them to Facebook. Okay, perhaps it isn’t as bad especially if your consent was taken. However, what about if as a Muslim woman you were dressed up in a manner where it is not correct for men to see you. Furthermore, you have no idea as to under what privacy settings your pictures are being uploaded to on another person’s account. They could be visible to all the men on their profile for all you know. Unfortunately that is something you can’t control unless you explicitly tell the person to either not take your pictures, not upload your pictures or are 100% confident that the images are not visible to any one you would not want.
To make things worse, the individual goes ahead and tags you on every single picture and these images are now available for every single friend on your profile to view! However, that is something you can control. In order for you to disable your tagged images being viewed by your whole list, follow these steps below:
Account –> Privacy Settings –> Customize Settings –> Photos and videos I’m tagged in
At the very least, your images will now not pop up on everyone’s news feed and cause embarrassment. Of course the best thing would be to not even be in a position where these pictures would get uploaded on such a large social networking site.
Hiding From Stalkers
Everyone on Facebook is guilty of stalking at one point or another. Fair enough; curiosity always kills the cat at the end! However, what is unfortunate is the fact that at times individuals who are not even on your friends list are able to stalk you! They can view your information, your relationship status, who you’re married to, your work information, your tagged images and even your photo albums at times. There are two aspects of this; one is by going to the page mentioned in the section above, which will allow you customize other parts of your profile. The second is the kind that will allow you to customize who can search for you, who can message you or see your friends list. In order to be able to correct this, you will need to follow these steps:
Account –> Privacy Settings –> Connecting on Facebook –> View Settings
Another way to control your profile from being stalked or searched for is by disabling public search. If this is enabled, it means that if someone searches for you on a search engine such as Google, your Facebook profile will be visible to them. In order to verify if this is disabled, follow these steps:
Account –> Privacy Settings –> Apps and Websites –> Edit Your Settings
Once you click on edit settings for this feature, you will be able to enable or disable this feature and protect yourself and your profile.
Pending Friend Request
So you’ve just received a new friend request from someone who you are not sure about adding just yet. However, did you know that a pending friend request can still make you vulnerable by letting them see your status updates, wall posts or other profile information? When you get a Facebook friend request and click on “Not Now”, this request is not rejected. It simply means not now and the request is put to your “hidden friends requests” section.
In order for you to delete the requests, you will need to go to the hidden request and manually delete the request and confirm it. Furthermore, if you do not know the person at all, you can click the option that asks you if you know the person or not. This will prevent all future friend requests from this individual.
Furthermore, if you keep a friend request pending, any of your profile features can be visible to them if they are not selected to “friends only”. This means that if you update a status on Facebook and have the privacy set to “everyone”, that update will appear on the news feed of the individual who has requested to added you on Facebook, alongside the fact that it will be visible to literally “everyone” on Facebook if they visit your profile.
The same applies to wall posts, albums, notes and other features of your profile.
If you are one of those paranoid individuals who feel like their Facebook will get hacked any day for no apparent reason, then this is something that you should definitely look into. Facebook allows for you to receive notifications whenever it detects any unusual activity. This means that if you are normally accustomed to using Facebook from your personal laptop and all of a sudden you decide to log on to Facebook from an office computer, Facebook will send you a notification that your account was accessed from a device outside of your usual device. This can be really helpful if you know that you haven’t accessed your account from anywhere else and if someone tries to log on from their computer, you will be notified. Alongside that, it also lets you know the location from which the most recent activity on your account took place. In order to enable this feature go to:
Account –> Account Settings –> Account Security
I have tried to cover a few crucial privacy aspects on Facebook that are definitely a must for everyone to be aware of. There are many other minor privacy settings that can be customized and once you follow the aforementioned best practices, you will be able to see many other settings on each page. Make sure you take the time to explore these settings and really understand the scope of how much and what you are sharing and with who you are sharing.
Finally, the most important privacy settings are given to us through Islamic jurisprudence. Learn the laws behind what is allowed for you to publicly share, such as the kind of images or information, and with whom this information can be shared with.