Contact 2: Ways to improve your privacy on Facebook

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ST. LOUIS - Over the summer, Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission reached a record-breaking $5 billion settlement for lying to consumers about their ability to control their own privacy on the social network.

As a result, Facebook was required to overhaul its consumer privacy practices. Facebook and its subsidiary social media sites WhatsApp and Instagram must now delegate its privacy-related decisions to a committee composed of board members, with a third party evaluating their choices’ effectiveness, and submit quarterly certifications of compliance with these measures.

But these measures alone do not mean Facebook users can rest on their laurels when it comes to maintaining their privacy. You'll have to take additional steps on your own to mitigate your own concerns.

Of course, the surest way to maintain your privacy and keep your personal information from being disclosed is to delete Facebook entirely and stay off social media altogether.

However, if you want to stay on Facebook, TheVerge.com offered advice to keep your privacy while on the social network, which we're sharing below.

From a computer:

  • In your News Feed, click on your name and small photo at the top of the screen to go to your profile page.
  • On your profile page, click “About.”
  • Click each category on the left side of the About section (Overview, Work and Education, Places You’ve Lived, and so on). Hover over each entry you don’t want Facebook to retain; on the right side of the entry, you will either see an “Options” or “Edit” link that will let you delete the information — or most of it. There are a few entries, like “Birth Date” and “Gender” that can be changed but not deleted.

From a mobile device:

  • On your News Feed, tap your picture.
  • Scroll down and tap “Edit Public Details,” then scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap “Edit Your About Info” at the bottom of the page.
  • Here’s where you edit your personal information, including “Work,” “Places You’ve Lived,” and so on. To edit each, tap on the pencil icon on the right.

If you'd like to go one step further, CNBC has a set of recommendations for more general social media behavior and how that can protect you:

  • Turn on extra security settings by going to “Settings,” then “Security and Login,” and then “Setting Up Extra Security.”
  • Only “friend” people you know and trust, and make sure they have increased their security settings (and while you are at it, go through your Friend list and unfriend those not meeting these standards).
  • Be careful with apps and games available through Facebook, and if you do download any, go to “Settings” and then “Apps” and deselect options that allow sharing information.
  • Stay away from “personality quizzes” and related apps, which can be accessed and abused by third parties.
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