More than 1.3 billion people – including 80 percent of all Americans and more than 20 percent of the world’s population – log into Facebook every day. Though political issues and data-sharing concerns keep the company in the news, those headlines haven’t seemed to slow its popularity. Facebook casts a consistently long shadow over all other forms of social media.
As Facebook grapples with its outsized impact on the news, there’s still plenty we can do as users to manage our own public presence on the platform. Here are a few quick tips on managing what’s likely your main social media outlet:
1. Manage your data
Under the Help tab – the question mark in a circle at the top right of your Facebook page – you’ll find a link to a Privacy Checkup as well as Privacy Shortcuts. The checkup is an FAQ that shows how you’re sharing your information with not only other Facebook users but apps and websites.
Privacy tools let users customize their account to better handle personal details, ad preferences and security. That includes defining your audience for posts past and future, removing tags, getting alerts about unrecognized logins and determining the type and quantity of ads you’ll see.
2. Protect your career
It’s not just advertisers and hackers that might want access to your Facebook account. CareerBuilder says 70 percent of employers check social media when making hiring decisions. Maybe it’s a good idea, then, to only share those wild party pix with friends and family. That same survey showed nearly 60 percent of employers are less likely to consider a candidate with no social media presence. So filter your content and your audience, but don’t shut down your sites altogether.
3. Plan for the great hereafter
What happens to your Facebook page after you die? It’s actually up to you. Facebook offers the option of designating a legacy contact, a person who can post a final message or service information on your behalf, manage friend requests, update your profile photo and request your account be removed.
Alternatively, the exclusive focus of the website Dead Social preparing for the one place Facebook can’t find us. Visitors learn how to plan for a digital death and the digital legacy they'll leave behind. The site even provides a Legacy Builder tool, with which people write a posthumous farewell to post on social media accounts.
4. Track your time on Facebook
Not all experts agree on how over-use of social media affects us, but it doesn’t take a board-certified psychologist to know that, if you’re obsessing over Facebook 10 hours a day, you may have a problem. Fortunately, there are ways to track how much time you’re spending on Facebook and other apps. The new iOS 12 for iPhones and iPads, for example, allows you to monitor your time on specific apps. Gizmodo has a good list here of other apps that work for Android as well.
5. Take a break
If the political arguments have grown too heated, the smiling vacation posts too eye-rollingly cute, or your desire to check your Facebook feels a little like an addiction, it might be time to take a Facebook break.
Deactivating an account essentially puts it on ice, removing your presence from the site without permanently trashing all uploaded photos, your contacts and the posts you may someday want to re-visit. Taking a hiatus may be enough to establish new online patterns and get a fresh perspective on your own life, while leaving the door open to later return to your virtual friends and family.
You can also follow one user's path. Instead of leaving Facebook altogether, she added controls to help block access during specific times and prompt interaction with other users instead of passive observation. That’s an approach that merits a big thumbs-up.
Here's a short video showing where some of those settings are located (use full screen for detail):
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