Choosing the Right Level of Social Media Privacy: What Would Goldilocks Do?

When Goldilocks came upon the house of The Three Bears, she found a dilemma at every turn—porridge that was too hot or too cold, chairs that were too large, and beds that were too hard or too soft. Her tale is a little like trying to navigate the individual privacy settings on the myriad of social media channels. Which level of social media privacy is just right?

goldilocks image from geronimocoaching.comThere are three basic levels of internet privacy:

Public: Most or all privacy settings are open to public view and are searchable either on Google (depending on the channel) or on Facebook Graph Search.

Friends/Followers-only: On Facebook and other channels where settings are varied within the platform, this means that you have set your private information to be viewed only by those you approve as friends or followers. Your friends have the ability to share your information with their friends.

Locked or Private Accounts: All privacy settings are locked down, and permission to follow or friend is managed on a case-by-case basis by the user. Sharing and tagging are turned off. On Twitter, this involves “protecting” your tweets, and no one can see your tweets except approved followers. Also, your tweets cannot be retweeted by your approved followers.

Here are a few quick tips to make sure your privacy settings are just right:

– Read through the privacy section in the terms of service and check the privacy settings on all your channels. Make sure you know exactly who can see your posts, and who can share them.

-Don’t trust an application to have your best interests at heart. Their first allegiance is to the advertisers that want to buy your private information. They are banking on you sharing your information with the public.

-Stay informed about changes in privacy settings by subscribing to a channel’s blog or email news. Often settings will change as new features are added to a channel. Make sure you understand the ramifications of the new features on your privacy.

-Check your privacy settings regularly, just as you check and update your online profiles.

Informed understanding is the best way to make sure your privacy settings are just right.

The above post is taken from the new book, Practice Safe Social by Chris Syme, and is available on