Consumer Watch: A privacy checkup for Facebook security

Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, testifies at a joint Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee hearing, on Capitol Hill. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

Continued from last week's column, thanks to AARP, about self-protection from Facebook snafus and scammers.

Facebook does offer a handy link that allows a quick adjustment to your account settings.

1. Click the question mark in the top right section of the menu bar on your profile page and scroll down to "Privacy Checkup."

2. Now we can tell who can see your posts, which apps are currently linked to your account, and what personal information can be seen, and by whom. The checkup option allows you to adjust these all in one place and, better, permits each of us to edit personal information. However - and importantly - it shouldn't replace the steps listed last week.

photo Ellen Phillips

Restrict ad preferences

If you don't want Facebook to serve up custom ads based on your personal information and site use, be sure to opt out of that program as well.

1. Go to the Facebook Ad Preferences settings page.

2. In the Ad settings section, toggle each option to "Off" to restrict Facebook from using its affiliated sites (in other words, the apps you've used through its own site) to serve up ads based on your data.

3. In the Ad Preferences section, you can also view advertisers, companies and topics with which you are linked through your actions on Facebook. Delete any topics or companies by hovering over its respective icon and clicking the "X."

Turn off your cell phone or iPad's location services

This site is one of many that uses the GPS location tracking in your smartphone or mobile device to gain insight into your personality and habits. Go ahead and restrict this access by changing your settings on your device.

1. iOS users (iPhones and iPads): Open your Phone Settings, click to "Privacy" and then to "Location Services." Now you can turn off all location services and driving apps; just be aware this could mess up your phone's map function (and while from a privacy standpoint, that's advisable). However, if that's not what you want after all, then scroll down and disable location services on an app-by-app basis, including Facebook.

2. Android users: Go to Account Settings, then "Location" and make sure the Facebook access slider is set to "Off."

What do others see when they view us on Facebook?

Check the "View As" option, which allows you to see your profile page as any Facebook user would when he or she looks at your page. To see this view:

1. Go to your profile page and click on the three dots in the right-hand corner of your cover photo (the large rectangular photo at the top of this page, not to be confused with your profile photo, which is the smaller square photo that appears with your name across the entire site).

2. Scroll down to the "View As" option.

3. Once there, you can see how your page appears to the general public. You also can see how it appears to any of your Facebook friends, allowing you to make sure that any settings you've customized to your satisfaction work the way you wish.

Contact Ellen Phillips at