Facebook's Six Sneakiest Settings (And How To Fix Them)

Facebook's sneaky change to email settings reminds us that the social networking giant rarely has the interests of its users front and centre. Here are six sneaky Facebook settings you might have forgotten about.

Picture by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

We've offered in-depth guides to fixing Facebook privacy issues in the past, but in the wake of Facebook's forced email rollout, it seems worth revisiting the most important options. If you feel that Facebook is becoming too troublesome but don't want to give it up altogether, check out our guide to quitting Facebook without actually quitting Facebook.

6. Changing your email address

This is what got us fired up today — Facebook listing '[email protected]' as the default email address on everyone's Timeline. Here's how to switch back to your actual email address, or hide your email altogether.

5. Staying out of search engines

Don't want your Facebook presence to be found via Google, Bing or any other search engine? Wise decision. You can set this option, but it's well buried. Go to Privacy Settings (under the down arrow in the top-right corner), go to 'Ads, Apps and Websites', click 'Edit settings', scroll down to 'Public search', click 'Edit settings' and make sure 'Enable public search' isn't ticked.

4. Burying app permissions

Installing a Facebook app is an easy process, which means many people don't realise that their apps have permission to post to their walls, email their contacts or otherwise make a nuisance of themselves. Conduct a regular audit of your apps to make sure their permissions are appropriate.

3. Stop 'social adverts'

No-one (except possibly Facebook shareholders) wants to have the fact they liked something suddenly appear in advertisements seen by their friends. Choose 'Account Settings' from the drop-down meny, then choose 'Facebook adverts' from the left-hand column. Click on 'Edit social adverts setting'. In the 'Pair my social actions with adverts for' drop-down, pick 'No one' and then click on 'Save changes'. No more

2. Don't get tagged

One of Facebook's attempts at being helpful is to automatically make tagging suggestions when photos are uploaded. If you're striving to avoid having your photos online, this can be irritating, so switch it off. Choose 'Privacy Settings' from the drop-down menu, find 'Timeline and tagging' and click 'Edit settings'. Change the setting under 'Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded'? from 'Friends'to 'No-one'.

1. The hidden inbox

This still catches lots of people out — rather than keeping all your messages in one inbox, Facebook divides them into two. That means messages from people you don't hear from regularly often get missed altogether, since most people don't notice the second inbox link. Check out our guide to how it works and how to get notifications for your second inbox.


    In addition to the above, I decided I didn't want to receive all the emails that Facebook sends to users by default -- I'll log into and check Facebook itself when I want to know about any recent activity, I don't need it clogging my inbox as well.

    These settings aren't as hidden as some of the above, but not everyone even thinks to look for such a thing, and they have a habit of moving or renaming the options. At the time of my writing, you can control when Facebook sends an email notification by accessing "Account Settings", choosing "Notifications" in the upper left and then making use of the "Edit" buttons next to the various categories listed; upon clicking any of the buttons you will be presented with a much more comprehensive list of potential notifications, and can simply un-check any you don't like and "save changes."

    Personally, I have email notifications turned off for almost everything, and don't find I have any problems with missing out on event invites, being tagged, or anything of the sort.

    ...and one more: if your settings allow friends to access some or all of your information then that information can potentially be passed along by any apps they install as well. You can control this via "Privacy Settings", scrolling down and choosing "edit settings" for "Ads, Apps and Websites", and then "edit settings" for "how people bring your info to apps they use".

    Personally I turned off everything other than "my website", "my links" and "hometown", which I don't mind potentially being shared.

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