Facebook has a justifiable reputation as a place of sharing - in fact, an "orgy of sharing" might be more appropriate. People seem to share all sorts of personal stuff there, and some people make it available to anyone!
Not surprisingly, this "orgy" is distasteful to a lot of people; and they avoid it.
But I love Facebook. It's a place where I can keep up with the news of my friends and family, in a way that would otherwise be impossible at this busy stage of my life.
If you have resisted Facebook because you are concerned about your privacy, I'm here to change your mind. Despite what you might think, it's very easy to set up a very private place on Facebook, and nobody will know you're there except the people you choose.
Let's walk through the process of signing up and locking down your privacy settings. It only takes a few minutes to be really secure, and start enjoying the company of your friends on Facebook.
For this example I'm making a page for one of my cats, Meggsie :)
When you go to facebook.com, you get this page:
Enter your details:
It'll ask you to enter a security phrase (if you can't read it, click "Try different words" until you find one you can reproduce):
The you get a three-step sign-up process. I think it's better not to enter any details until you've set up your privacy, so ignore this section. Press "Skip this step":
Then "Skip" again:
And "Skip" again:
Then you get to the proper Facebook home page. It's pretty barren for now.
At the top you'll see a light yellow alert telling you to check your email:
Go and check your email, and you'll find a confirmation email with a link you need to click. This is all good stuff - Facebook is establishing that you are really you.
Once you click the link in the email, it will bring you back here, ready to go:
Ignore all the information stuff. Scroll straight down to the bottom to find the privacy controls. Click on "Control what information you share":
You get this page. We'll come back to "Connecting on Facebook" shortly, but first we'll deal with the "Sharing on Facebook" section. The "Recommended" settings are only partially private, as you'll see. To be really private, choose the "Friends Only" setting:
Just clicking on "Friends Only" isn't enough. You then have to click "Apply these settings":
Back at the top of the page, press "View Settings":
When you get to this page, you'll see that it's all set to "Everyone":
Change each of the settings to the most secure option. In most cases, it's "Friends Only", except for the second one, which is "Friends of Friends".
(Of course, if you want people to be able to search for you on Facebook, you can leave the first one set to "Everyone").
Then click "Back to Privacy" at the top left corner:
Almost done! The last thing to do is edit the settings for Apps and Websites:
This section looks daunting at first, but it's actually really easy. To make yourself super-secure, just click "Turn off all platform apps".
It will prompt you with "Are you sure?", and once you say "Yes", you'll see that all the other stuff is automatically turned off:
You're done! Now you can return to the home page, upload a photo of yourself, enter some details, and use the Search bar at the top to begin looking for your friends. And feel safe in the knowledge that nobody knows you're on Facebook unless you tell them.