Facebook Minimalism for Noobs
February 6, 2014 7:27 AM   Subscribe

How can I set up Facebook from scratch with minimal spam/leakage into other accounts and minimal leakage from/to people I don't know?

I've loathed the idea of facebook being so intrusive and time-sucky and privacy-busting. I have avoided it entirely till today having never registered. I have a few friends all over the world, they relentlessly use facebook, and my work pressure is deceasing a little, so I may want to set up facebook for the following purposes ONLY

i) to contact friends I know
ii) to see their details, status updates, and NO others.
iii) not to be visible to others outside of friends

i.e no games, no strangers, no spam, no linking to other online services.

I've set up a separate account on my mac (10.6.8) so no cookies talk to each other in browser
Fresh download of Firefox, with adblock pro and FB purity installed
I've set up a new yahoo email account, only using that for facebook (yahoo has my phone # and DOB….sigh)


0) I'm a facebook noob. Things to avoid? What to do when first registering (I haven't signed up yet).

i) Is here anything else I should do to my firefox/mac/how i register to non-link between facebook and my other online stuff?

ii) What settings in facebook and FB purity (and any others should I use)

iii) Can I set it up so ONLY that people I know personally are linked to me? is there a way to default set up a message saying "If I haven't known you in person for at least 2 years, then I won't friend you"? I REALLY want to avoid vast nebulous friend-of-a-friend network crap.

iv) Other advice?
posted by lalochezia to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
(yahoo has my phone # and DOB….sigh)

If you're as concerned about privacy as the steps you're taking suggest, get a free Google voice number and use a fake DOB (just make sure to write them down somewhere so you can confidently say to a rep you were born on 1/1/1953 if you need support).

For that matter, feel free to lie to Facebook about details you'd rather conceal. And there's no reason to put your dob, school, even location on there.

Set all of your privacy settings to "friends only." You can also set it up that people can't search for your name.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:38 AM on February 6, 2014

You can also set it up that people can't search for your name.

No, you can't anymore; recent change. You can set it up that only Friends of Friends can friend you, but that's about it for now. That's the thing about Facebook; just when you think you have it locked down, they change things. Also, I don't think there's anyway to pre-emptively block all game/app requests (though you can block the apps one at a time once you get requests). If that is really going to bother you, you might want to reconsider joining.

I've noticed I'm getting a lot more stranger friend-requests now that I'm regularly commenting on public FB "pages" (and FYI those comments are Google-visible); I suggest not doing that if you want your account to stay under the radar.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:45 AM on February 6, 2014

Random suggestions that work for me:

- Lie to Facebook about your date of birth. They let you change it later if you want.

- Don't give it your current location, past schools, job, any of that. It might keep asking but just don't answer.

- If you've already given them a phone number, etc., take it back or change it to something fictional.

- Use a profile photo that isn't your face.

- On your profile page you'll have an drop-down option next to a little gear that might be "View as…" (sorry, I use Facebook in Spanish; I don't know what they say in English). Use it to see how the public views your profile. Use the privacy settings everywhere to make sure that only friends can see what you publish.

- Hide the lists of groups you join and pages you like so no one sees them, not even friends. I don't remember how to do it but it's possible. I did this to keep my politics to myself.

- Don't identify the location of anything you do.

- Use the privacy settings to make sure that if someone tags you in something, you review it first before it appears on your timeline. I let very few tagged items through.

- Don't let anyone write on your wall. I used to let friends write, but they would post dubious stuff that tagged a ton of other people, which brought friend requests from strangers.

- Just don't accept friend requests if you don't want them. Click "ignore" and they'll go away.

- Use a browser add-on that blocks ads and those cookies that track you around the internet.

- Always log out of Facebook; don't just close the window.

To the public, my Facebook page shows only my name, profile photo (a nature scene), and my portada (whatever they call the big photo at the top; also a nature scene). Not my location, job, groups, yada yada, and nothing that I've published on my wall.
posted by ceiba at 7:51 AM on February 6, 2014

By FB Purity, you're referring to this extension, right? That extension is amazing, I've used it for years and I think I've received less than a dozen app or game requests with it installed. If you haven't used it before, don't freak out if facebook reports that it's spam or malicious if you post a link of it on a wall, friend's message; FB will say the link is spam if you try to post that link in facebook (which is bullshit, frankly).

Also, I'd be hesitant to use the facebook app on your mobile phone because you if you post some content to another social network (twitter, instagram, etc) on your phone, you can also end up posting it on your facebook account if you're not careful.

Lastly, you can also give them an email address that is just a forwarder to your real email address as well.
posted by fizzix at 7:51 AM on February 6, 2014

Just don't accept friend requests if you don't want them. Click "ignore" and they'll go away.

This is true BUT that gives the person a chance to try to friend you again, which can be annoying if it's someone you know and don't want to be friends with. Better to just let the invite sit there in limbo forever, IMO.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:54 AM on February 6, 2014

Response by poster: Also, if anyone knows of any links discussing these issues, those would be great too!
posted by lalochezia at 8:03 AM on February 6, 2014

I have several friends (mostly K-12 teachers) who use their first and middle names instead of their first and last names on facebook.

If anyone can figure out a way to completely avoid seeing non-friends' status updates, I would LOVE to hear it. When friends-of-friends post public status updates they will sometimes crop up in my feed if enough of my friends comment on them. I hate this.
posted by mskyle at 9:18 AM on February 6, 2014

Facebook is smart. I check mine maybe a few times a month, I don't play any of the games, I don't tell it anything, I don't put pictures up on it, and I only email people who contact me through facebook or I can't access in other ways. I don't seek out Facebook friendships, so 9 times out of 10 if I'm Facebook friends with someone, it's because they wanted it. When someone shows up on my homepage, I block them; my homepage usually just has feeds from whoever I most recently added.

And yet, Facebook knows who I should "friend." It knows what the most likely places I lived are. It knows where I probably went to high school and college. I know that it knows this because it asks me to confirm. To the extent that you are who you associate with, Facebook will know you. My point is that even with the most basic, unobtrusive account, you're selling some of your privacy to Facebook in exchange for the services they offer you.
posted by aniola at 9:32 AM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

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