Whether you still use Facebook daily or not, chances are that you’ve got all sorts of information posted on your timeline from years gone by. And from personal contact details to embarrassing photos, there’s likely to be many things on your Facebook account that you probably wouldn’t want being dragged up again – or falling into the wrong hands. As a consequence, it’s definitely worth checking what exactly you’ve shared in the past and having a good old clear-out.
10. Most of your friends
Most of us probably have at least a few hundred Facebook friends. But when was the last time you were even in a room with 300 people? And, in all likelihood, you can probably count on your fingers those individuals whom you consider actual, close friends. Perhaps, then, it’s time for a deleting spree.
After all, Robin Dunbar, a professor in evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford, posited in a 2016 study that humans can only really deal with around 150 real relationships. If you come into contact with any more people, they’re likely to be merely “acquaintances.” And who needs a Facebook timeline full of acquaintances? Trimming the fat may therefore do you good.
9. Your birthday
We get it: having a few dozen people wish you “Happy birthday!” on your timeline can be a rush. But how many of those people do you talk to on the other 364 days of the year? And how many of them would actually remember your birthday if Facebook didn’t point it out to them?
In fact, removing your birthday from Facebook can help you realize who your real friends are: that is, the folks who know the date of your special day without a virtual reminder. And doing this may also help in maintaining your privacy, since several security forms do ask for your date of birth as proof of ID.
8. Your phone number
Do you really want to risk having your personal cell phone number picked up by someone you talked to once, then added on Facebook and forgot about forever? If you’re unlucky, you may just get yourself a stalker. Yeah, it’s probably best just to go ahead and delete your number from your account altogether.
Indeed, even if you’ve already whittled down your friends list to just those you trust the most, what’s to stop someone grabbing their phone and looking up your details? And when it comes to online privacy, you can’t be too careful. The safest thing to do, then, is just to give your phone number out to people on an individual basis.
7. Pictures of your kids
Imagine having all your childhood photos uploaded to the internet, readily available to anyone on your Facebook friends list. Or, rather, your parents’ Facebook friends lists. Because that’s exactly what your kids have to look forward to in future if you’ve been uploading snaps of your little ones to the social media platform.
It’s probably a good idea, then, to keep those memories private. For one, you’ll save them the embarrassment of growing up to realize that the internet is full of pictures of the time they threw a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store. And just being a little more careful regarding your kids’ privacy can’t hurt, right?
6. Your location tags
As it turns out, Facebook is great at recording your every check-in. Therefore, it’s not difficult for someone to figure out where you’ve been, when you went there and even what you did while you were there, thanks to the way in which the social media site tags photos. And if someone knows where you’ve been in the past, it’s probably not hard to figure out where you might go in future.
If you don’t want to go through and delete every single location tag you’ve ever posted, though, you can always just hide your check-in map. Even still, it’s probably not a great idea to keep tagging yourself anywhere in future, either.
5. Your travel plans
If you’re planning a vacation, don’t tell everyone on Facebook – at least not until you’ve returned. After all, if you advertise the fact that your house will soon be empty, it’s an open invite to burglars. And once again, even if you trust everyone on your friends list, you never know who could end up seeing your timeline through them.
What’s more, if you do end up getting burgled, the consequences could be even direr than you may have thought. In fact, some insurers won’t pay out if you’ve told the world about your travel plans on Facebook, nor if you post there while on vacation and reveal your location. It’s best all round just to keep your trip a secret.
4. Your boarding pass
Even if you ignore all the above advice and decide to tell everyone that you’re going on vacation, the one thing you definitely shouldn’t do is post a picture of your boarding pass to Facebook. And if you’ve already done so – even for an old trip – it’s a good idea to remove it right now.
That’s because what may seem like a simple flight ticket is actually a treasure trove of personal information, stored inside barcodes and QR codes. From those, any savvy individual may be able to access details about your current trip, your frequent flyer account details and even your plans for later vacations.
3. Your relationship status
When you’re embarking on a new relationship, you may want to shout it from the rooftops. Only that wouldn’t be very practical, so you go the 21st century route and declare your romance on Facebook instead. But what happens if that liaison comes to a painful end? Well, changing your status from “in a relationship” back to “single” isn’t going to help matters; it may even rub more salt into the wound.
On that note, it’s probably a good idea to just delete all those pictures of your ex, too. Facebook is very fond of showing you memories in your news feed, after all. And if you’ve just gone through a breakup, seeing those snaps in your albums may make you feel even worse.
2. Your boss
We’re not saying it’s not a good idea to maintain a friendly relationship with your professional superiors; we just wouldn’t recommend having them as a friend on Facebook. Why? Well, that means they’re going to see everything you post – good, bad and ugly. And that may mean tarnishing your reputation, depending on how you act on social media.
Of course, even if you’re careful to present a professional image, your Facebook account likely spans several years by now. And there’s nothing stopping a curious employer scrolling back through your timeline. So if you don’t want them digging up the stuff you posted as an awkward teenager, it’s probably best just to keep your boss away from your page.
1. Any dodgy posts you’ve made or been tagged in
In that spirit, then, you may want to spend a little time cleaning up your timeline – just in case. If you’ve previously posted a political rant, an offensive joke or just a lewd picture, for example, they’re probably not the sort of things you really want attached to your name forever.
Sure, edgy posts may have been funny when you were 15; you probably wouldn’t consider them to be so now, though. Alas, though, the permanence of Facebook means that all the stuff you grew up sharing is still there on your page. And if you don’t want such things to be seen anymore, just get rid.