Are You Avoiding Facebook?

If the idea of using Facebook makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. According to the most recent Pew Internet survey, less than 60 percent of people 65-plus who go online use the social network. And that means more than 40 percent are missing out on a tool that can keep us engaged with the world — even if we chose just to lurk in the background, never actually doing what Facebook was originally designed for: getting social. 

Why Do So Many People Resist Facebook?

Some people think the whole Facebook thing is a big yawn. After all, who needs to know what someone else ate for breakfast? The quick answer: If you only follow people or public profiles that consistently post stuff you’re interested in, you won’t have to read the silly stuff.

What about fear of Facebook?

If you’re not on Facebook, it might be because you fear for your privacy. The fact is, Facebook is as private as you want to make it. At its most private, you can easily restrict access to everything but your name and profile image (doesn’t have to be your picture) and only let a few people see more.

You can also control who is able to request to be your “friend,” so you don’t have to worry that your college buddy who you never want to hear from again will find  and follow you on Facebook.

So, if you’re not going to post, and you’re not open to being “friended,” why would you even bother? Because Facebook is fast becoming a prime source of news on the internet, and many publishers rely on it to disseminate their breaking stories. In fact, a 2016 Reuters Institute study found that 50 percent of people who use the internet get their news from Facebook at least once a week, and increasingly, it’s becoming the top news source for many. It’s also a way that communities of shared interest get information through local, cause related or other Facebook groups.

The Most Private Way to Use Facebook:
As a Newsfeed

If you’d prefer never to say anything on Facebook and make it a one-way street, with you receiving but never offering information, you can. In fact, the easiest and the most private strategy — and the one many people opt for — is to use your Facebook feed to curate your own continually updating stream of news, whether that’s world news, community news, family news or news about a specific interest. In fact according to one survey, by late 2015 only 34% of Facebook users were actually posting personal status updates.

To curate your own newsfeed, just “like” the pages, “friend” the people or “join” the groups that interest you. You can follow specific newspapers and magazines, websites and organizations, towns and communities (a writer’s community, a community for dog lovers), celebrities, family members — it’s your choice.

To follow, search for the person, page or group by name in the Facebook search bar at the top left of any Facebook page.

fb-search-bar

Facebook will give you a few options; click on the option that matches what you’re looking for. Facebook will take you to the right page. Then just click Like or (for people), Add Friend or Join (for groups).

facebook-like

Once you’ve picked whose posts you want to follow, your News Feed will show you a selection of posts from these people and pages. The more

Facebook decides exactly which posts you’ll see based on what it thinks you’re most interested in. If you don’t much like what you’re seeing in your News Feed, you can learn how to control your settings here. (Read our article about how to control what you see on your Facebook News Feed.)

How to Keep Your Information Private

After a while, you might end up wanting to use Facebook to wish someone you follow a happy birthday (Facebook will remind you by email) — or maybe you’ll feel moved to respond to or “like” a comment you read. And even if you never post or like anything, we’ll assume that you want everything private (meaning that you only want your friends to see it.) Here are ways to ensure that only the people you want to see your Facebook profile can.

Facebook Privacy Basics

To see who can see what in your Facebook profile and set it to most private, go to the top right hand corner of your profile. You’ll see three lines with a lock icon (see the yellow arrow in our screenshot below). Click on that.

yellow arrow

Click on Privacy Shortcuts and a menu like this will pop up.

dino

Use the little arrow dropdown next to each of these options to control your presence. To only be seen by your friends, click the following in each drop down. For example, under My Stuff, clicking Friends will only allow your friends to see anything you might decide to post. You can also select Only Me — in which case nobody but you can see anything.

Friends

There are more privacy settings you can control by clicking on the Privacy Settings option. One of the most important is the one that controls who can “tag” you in posts. “Tagging” is when someone identifies you by name in a photo or other post of theirs. By turning on Review Posts Friends Tag You In, you’ll get a notification whenever a friend tags you in a post. Their post won’t show up on your timeline until you explicitly allow it. (It will show up on theirs.) We recommend turning this on.

For more detailed information and some simple videos, see the Facebook Privacy Pages.

How to Limit Who Can Contact You

You can allow anyone to contact you — in other words, to request to be your friend on Facebook  — by selecting Everyone. However, that would allow old flames, high school friends and current or former co-workers to find you. If you only want friends of your friends to contact you, select the option shown below.

friends of friends

If you prefer, you can simply delete a friend request.

You Can Check Your Privacy Settings at Any Time 

You can see what information your profile is showing to others whenever you want. Go to your profile and select View As… on the menu in the lower right corner of your cover photo. You’ll be able to test what your profile looks like to the public or specific friends. If your profile is not the way you want it, use our instructions above to make your changes.

If you’re on Facebook, how do you use it? And if you’re not, do you think you might try it? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

7 comments
  • Scott
    REPLY

    I would give one additional tip: create privacy settings per type of friendship. You can create a category called “acquaintance” and tag people who you know but are not close friends. This way, they won’t see everything you post.

  • Adela
    REPLY

    I do very well with having a list of friends and acquaintances on my computer from whom I receive many updated news and to whom I similarly send what I receive from many sources, as well as sometime we debate different subjects of those news.

    Only because many of my friends are on FB and keep contacting me, I had to open an account but find it too time consuming to find where things are, and having to switch from my email to FB and vice versa, etc. Unfortunately I receive lots of messages from them which I sadly must leave unanswered for lack of time. Especially because the news are just about the same more or less…

    I don’t feel I’m missing anything so far. If in the future it warrants to devote time to it, I may. :o)

  • Sally
    REPLY

    Facebook is also useful if you have a medical condition and want to connect with others who have the same condition. I have a serious, rare disease and would find it difficult to locate other people to talk to about it – but thanks to Facebook, I’m part of a worldwide support group that has about 2,500 members. On a less serious note, it’s also great for connecting with others who have the same hobby as you have – not necessarily to “friend” them or chat even, but also to see the work they’re doing (so you have steal tips and ideas!).

  • Momma
    REPLY

    I stopped using FB over a year ago. I do not miss it at all! When FB asked me to send a copy of my driver’s license that was the end. I set all my settings to private and yet some how it seemed there were those that could get through it or some how my settings would change. I had almost 4000 friends and yet only a dozen or more could see my comments or a dozen or more could respond. FB started limiting our access to friends. When FB started putting up where I lived then wanted my phone number it just cross the line of my trust and faith in FB. I am very opinionated and I did not need some freak or hacker finding out where I lived. I just do not Trust FB. Plus, when I heard government agencies were spying on FB members, recording our conversations and how easy it was for any hacker to find out where we lived that was it. FB had its good points but it had more negative than positive in the end. I get so much more done being off FB!!!! I am much more social face-to-face, too.

  • John Doe
    REPLY

    Although this all sounds good I have very little faith in what is writen here. Facebook itself is very capable of doing anything they want to do with information in their data base including opening it up as they desire at any time. Some of the news written about the owner and staff leaves no doubt in my mind that anybodies data is an open book to them.

    Extremely UNTRUEST WORTHY website that is just looking for new material to collect and sell or give out !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

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