Tech: Some privacy is possible when using social media

Online privacy is a concern for anyone who uses social media, from parents who want to look after their kids to adults who want their pictures and posts away from the public eye. When you create a profile under any social media site, you are creating a searchable, digital footprint.

That is the point, after all: To create a profile that family and friends can find and connect with you.

It is possible to keep your posts and photos away from the public with some adjustments. Here are the top five social media networks and what you can do to keep your information as private as possible.


Below the "What's on your mind?" box is an option next to "Post" called the audience selection tool. You can choose who can see that specific post. "Public" is for anyone on or off of Facebook. "Friends" limits your profile to your friends list. "Private" is for you only. You can also choose from specific networks that you belong to.

Your profile privacy settings can be found under the Privacy Shortcuts menu located next to the gear button on the top right side. Here you can choose who can see your stuff and who can contact you, and you can block someone who is bothering you.

There's also an option to retroactively make all of your previous posts private. Your name and profile picture will always be public, however.

If people tagging pictures, photos, or posts of you is a concern, you can turn on Timeline Review under the "Timeline and Tagging" menu in Settings. This forces any post that you are tagged in to be approved by you before it appears on your Timeline. If you deny a post, the post will still exist on Facebook without you tagged in it until the user who created the post takes it down.


Twitter's privacy is limited to Public Tweets and Protected Tweets. Public Tweets can be viewed by anyone on or off of Twitter. Protected Tweets require followers to be approved by the user before they can view the tweets. This is a profile setting, so your entire profile must either be public or protected.

People can find you either by your phone number or email address. Your email and phone number are never publicly displayed on your profile, but a person with your email or phone number can search for you through Twitter. To turn off that search function, you have to go to your security and privacy settings page and turn it off.

Much like Facebook, your profile picture and banner are publicly visible.


Because LinkedIn is your job searching and networking site, your profile is visible to anyone on LinkedIn no matter what. Think of it as a job board: when you post your resume up there, anyone passing by can see it.

LinkedIn is based on connections: your first connections (the people you added or added you) and second connections (the connections of those you are connected to) can see your profile in full. Third connections can see limited information.

You can, however, remove your LinkedIn profile from search engines such as Google and Yahoo! as well as hide your profile from non-LinkedIn viewers. Click "Edit Profile" on your profile page, then "Edit" next to the URL underneath your profile picture. Check the option that says "Make my public profile visible to no one" and your URL will be removed from those search engines.

Because search engines index the Internet on a rolling basis, it may take a few weeks for your profile to be removed from search results.


If you want to post privately or only with certain friends on Pinterest, you have to use Secret Boards. A Secret Board doesn't show up on search engines or in any other feeds except your own and the people invited in. You can create a Secret Board by clicking your name and then create a board under "Your Profile and Pins."

You can also remove your Pinterest profile from search engines by clicking on your name, then going to "Settings." Under "Search Privacy," switch it to "Yes."

Google Plus

Your name and profile picture are always public on Google Plus, but many parts of your profile can be set to share with certain people based on Circles (how you organize your friends in Google Plus). Click on your profile, then click the "About" tab. Most sections will let you edit visibility settings and choose which circles can see what.