Popular social networking site Facebook recently made some big changes affecting users’ privacy. If you’ve entered all your privacy settings on Facebook just the way you want them, you’re OK — as long as you kept these personalized settings when you were prompted by Facebook’s “transition tool.” This dialog box asked users if they wanted to opt for Facebook’s new “recommended settings.” If you did this, you inadvertently let Facebook publicize your private information. Here’s how to change things back.

1. Settings for Who Can See The Things You Share. If you accepted their new recommended settings, Facebook can now share items you post with any user or application on the site. Here’s how to fix that:

  1. Go to your “Account” tab at the top right hand side of your “Home” page.
  2. Use the pull down menu and go down to “Privacy Settings.”
  3. Click on the “Profile Information” link from the choices on the next page.
  4. Change all of the settings on this page to “only friends” for anything you only wish for your friends to see. This will ensure that only people you know are viewing your personal information.
  5. Facebook’s “Profile Information” covers your interests, activities, your birthday, religious and political views, and relationship status among other things. Facebook’s new default is now “Everyone” for family and relationship status and “Friends of Friends” for birthday, religious and political views.

2. Settings for What Google Can See. Make sure you’re not sharing more with the search engines than you’re comfortable with. Here’s what to do:

  1. Go to your “Account” page and use the pull down menu and go to “Privacy Settings” again.
  2. Click on the “Search” link from the choices on the next page.
  3. Uncheck the “Allow” box next to the second setting “Public Search Results.”
  4. Use the pop-up box to confirm your choice.
  5. Click “Preview my Profile” to check what you’ve done.
  6. Remember, any setting except “Only Friends” is a stranger. “Friends of Friends” sounds harmless, but that is everyone your Friends added as Friends, which is hundreds or thousands of people you don’t know. Don’t wait until something bad happens to protect your privacy on Facebook. Check it out now!

Finally, anyone about to buy a home needs to sign a contract by April 30 and close by June 30 to take advantage of the government’s tax credit — up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and up to $6,500 for move-up buyers.

Please contact me if I can help with any of these matters…. Have a great day!