Penn offers help in keeping privacy secure on Facebook


Facebook, with more than 750 million users, makes it easy to connect and share photos with family, friends and co-workers, but sharing too much information on the website can pose a threat to personal privacy.

Facebook does offer settings to help protect privacy by limiting information that “friends” can access, but often just finding the settings on the website can be difficult. To help, Penn’s Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy has created a “Top 10 Facebook Privacy Guide.”

“You hear more and more about some pretty serious problems [as a result of Facebook postings], such as stalking, identity theft, and posting of embarrassing and damaging photos,” says Lauren Steinfeld, senior advisor for privacy and compliance at Penn. “This guide is intended to help people avoid those problems. We hope it will get people thinking about how broadly information can reach, and what the impact can be.” 

The guide offers step-by step instructions on properly applying the privacy options.

Facebook Privacy

Steinfeld suggests creating lists of Facebook friends in categories, such as “family” and “professional,” to control who can view status updates and other shared information.

In addition to the written guide, there is also a video tutorial on the Penn Privacy website offering easy-to-follow, click-by-click instructions to set privacy settings.

Steinfeld says the privacy settings on Facebook and other social networking sites can help protect users, but to be safe, members shouldn’t post any sensitive or private information on their accounts at all.

“The sharing capabilities on social media, such as Facebook, are very powerful, she says. “You can put some controls around who can see your information, but you can’t control what anyone who can access it does with that information.”

Originally published on August 18, 2011