Eight tips to hide your dirty laundry on Facebook

Recruiters aren’t meant to judge you on your social media when you’re applying for a job. But that doesn’t mean everyone else won’t. In this day and age of google-stalking, you can bet one of the first things your new boss and colleagues do is look you up and judge you on what they find.

By now we should all be well-versed in the basics of presenting ourselves professionally online - but when was the last time you actually checked what comes up? And how do you clean it up?

Former Google and Facebook recruiter Sian Havard and I will be talking about this at our upcoming event, The Social Network: How to Get (and Lose) a Job on Social Media on March 14 in Brisbane.

But in the meantime, here are eight tips to get you started on Facebook - the most popular platform and the one most likely to have random photos, check-ins or inane comments hanging around.

Tickets are now on sale for this event at The Capital, Queen Street Mall, Brisbane from 6pm on Tuesday, March 14.

Tickets are now on sale for this event at The Capital, Queen Street Mall, Brisbane from 6pm on Tuesday, March 14.


1. Check what you look like to everyone else

Facebook actually has a tool to make it really easy to check what a stranger, your boss, or even your Mum will see on Facebook. This tool gets moved around a bit, and you will need to jump onto a computer to use it, but it’s worth the hassle.

To find it: Go to Settings, Public Posts, and then scroll down to link, View your public Timeline.

You will now see your profile, but as it appears to anyone who is not your friend on Facebook. Click on a few things and you will be able to check what posts, photos, videos and likes are visible to strangers.

If you are really privacy-conscious or work in an industry like politics, education, law enforcement, or anything where things may be used against you, you’ll want to lock this down pretty tight. I generally advise to have all your posts locked down and no images visible except for your current profile picture and current cover image.

One thing a lot of people forget to lock down is their likes and their friends. If you want to keep your undying passion for Home and Away, or your political views to yourself, locking down your likes is the way to go. Hiding your friends from randoms is a good layer of security to add to your profile.

Now that you have checked your public face - go up to the black bar and select View as a Specific Person. You can now type in anyone on Facebook to see what they see on Facebook. Start with your boss, and maybe your Mum, to see how the settings change.

If you use groups to manage what other people see when you post on the page, it’s worth checking what people from each different group sees. As a former journo, I have plenty of friends working in the media. But when I was working in politics I deliberately hid a lot of social media posts from their view. Keep in mind this isn’t foolproof and you really shouldn’t be sharing anything you are not comfortable seeing on the front page of the Courier Mail, but it can help you appear more professional than you sometimes are.


2. How to hide all your Facebook posts 

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If there are only a couple of posts you want to hide - you can change the individual settings for each post by clicking on the date stamp. This will open up the original post. You can change it from Public, to Friends, or a custom setting if you want to cut out certain people.

However, if you have never used your privacy settings, this will take forever! Instead go back to Settings, then Privacy and click on the magic Limit Past Posts link. This will automatically change all your old Public and Friends of Friends posts to Private.

While we are in Privacy Settings - you can change the default setting for all future posts to ensure they are private. Or use Custom settings to cut out your boss, work colleagues, or enemies from seeing content while you still stay “friends”.


3. How to hide the pages, profiles and lists you Like or Follow

You’d be amazed what the pages you like on Facebook can tell someone about you. You may think by not sharing your address and having your posts locked down you’re fine, but if your page likes are public, I can often tell where you live, where you go to the gym, that you love Mexican food and even that you are planning to leave your job soon. If you can see your likes when you review your page as a stranger or your boss, you may want to take action.

  • To lock down your likes, go to your Likes tab. You may need to click on the More... to find it. 
  • Then click on the pencil in the top right corner and you can select  Edit the Privacy of your Likes and  Edit the Privacy of you Follows. The first will let you change each Likes Section.

Even if you have hidden your likes in the past, it’s worth checking this section. Facebook now groups the pages you liked into categories and some may be public by default. 

By clicking Edit the Privacy of Your Follows, you can hide the pages, people and lists you follow as well as your friend list.

 


4. Make your Facebook photos disappear from public view

The little icon next to the date stamp on each image will tell you the privacy level.

Taking photos on a night out can be a lot of fun - losing your job because of it, not so much. Honestly, if the photo is something that is going to cost you your job, it shouldn’t be on social media. Delete it. Don’t Snapchat it. And pray there are no screenshots. 

But if you are looking to tidy up your photos a bit, I have some bad news. There is no magic button to make all your photos private. That doesn’t mean you can’t - it just means you have to invest a little time in your tidy up.

  • Go to your photos section and the select Albums. All of your photos will be sorted into one album or another.
  • You will see some albums have a settings icon that will allow you to change the privacy settings for your photos. To lock these albums down, click on the icon and change it to your desired setting. Bam. Done.
  • The albums you can’t change this way are generally Videos, Featured Photos, Profile Photos, Cover Images, Mobile Uploads and Instagram Photos. The photos in these albums have to be done individually. To do that quickly, open up the image and then flick through your album ensuring every image has the right setting. You can also delete certain photos as you go through the album. 

5. Now to hide your groups from view

On your profile page, navigate to the groups tab. Any public groups you have joined will appear here. You can then click on the pencil icon to Hide the Section or the Groups.

You will still be able to see all the groups you've joined by going to your home page and selecting groups in the sidebar menu.


6. Help! How do I delete some weird stories I don’t remember sharing?

If there are some weird stuff showing up, it’s possible you got stung by one of those spam links in the past. Try deleting the post from your timeline by clicking on the date stamp and then selecting delete. If this is not possible, hide it from your timeline. When you lock down the rest of your posts, it's particularly important to get rid of these spam posts! 

Now you need to make this can’t happen again. To do this, go to settings and then select Apps from the sidebar menu.

Now scroll through the apps connected to your Facebook account. If there is anything you don’t recognise or anything you haven’t used in years - delete the app.

If you are a sucker for Facebook quizzes, you should clean this folder out regularly!


7. There’s something I know I need to delete on Facebook, but how do I find it?

Did you know your Activity Log records EVERYTHING you do on Facebook? Every like, every comment, every single letter you type into the Facebook search bar...

If you need to remove one item from the past, your Activity Log is the place to go. The button to View your Activity Log is in the bottom left corner of your cover image. Once in your Activity Log, you can filter all your activity by type and year to locate what your want.

You can also change the privacy settings and determine if it is allowed on your timeline or not.

DID YOU KNOW: Facebook allows you to approve tags, and whether tagged images appear on your page. This is a feature I strongly recommend you use!

To activate it, go to Settings then Timeline and Tagging settings.

Here you can do the following and more:

  • Review posts that friends tag you in BEFORE they appear on your timeline.
  • Change who can see what you’ve been tagged in.
  • Review tags others add to your posts before they appear on Facebook

Your activity log records EVERYTHING you do on Facebook and can be easily searched by the filters.


8. Check what you look like to everyone else... again!

Once you have made all your changes - go back and review your page again as a stranger, a friend and as your boss. If you’re comfortable with everything that appears. Pat yourself on the back, you’re done. For now.

It’s a good idea to run through this check every year - as we all know, things on Facebook constantly change, and what your thought was hidden may pop up again.


Bonus Tidy Up Tip: On This Day

You may use the On This Day Feature to relive past moments (both good and bad), but have you considered using it as a method for cleaning up those random, pre-timeline Facebook posts?

Each day the feature will show you what you posted on that day every year since you opened your Facebook account. If there are any photos, videos, posts, or check-ins that you don’t like anymore, you can simply delete or hide them from your timeline.

Now I don't have to be reminded of the bad music choices* I made during past election campaigns. *(For the record, this was the Dangerous album... certainly not Michael's best.)

Now I don't have to be reminded of the bad music choices* I made during past election campaigns.

*(For the record, this was the Dangerous album... certainly not Michael's best.)