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Keeping a Low Profile

Lurking is a time-honored tradition on the Internet. Some people are shy. Others need to fly under the radar for reasons related to their careers or personal lives.

If you’re one of those people, you may wonder whether it’s possible to lurk quietly on Facebook at all, given that Facebook’s default approach is to announce what people do.

But it is possible to keep a low profile on Facebook, by setting your privacy controls to the maximum and declining to post any personal info on your profile.

Once you’ve followed the steps below, nobody you haven’t explicitly chosen to be friends with on Facebook will be able to tell you’re on Facebook at all. And even your friends won’t see much information about you, if any. You can lurk to your heart’s content.

Of course, you’ll be missing out on most of the fun of Facebook, which is about interaction, after all—but fortunately, all of the steps are reversible if and when you decide to come out of your shell.

So here’s your step-by-step guide to Facebooking on the down-low:

  1. Set your profile visibility to Only Friends (the narrowest possible setting) on the Privacy Settings > Profile page.
  2. You may also want to delete personal info from your profile, using the Edit My Profile link on your Profile page, if you’ve entered any. The only info you can’t erase from your profile is your name. Everything else—your hometown, your birthday, even your gender—is optional.
  3. Set Search Visibility to Only Friends (the narrowest possible setting) on the Privacy Settings > Search page. (This will also cause the Public Search Listing checkbox to disappear, and remove your public search listing, if you had one.)
  4. In the Search Result Content settings on the Privacy Settings > Search page, deselect all of the checkboxes, so people you aren’t friends with can’t contact you, friend you, or view your picture or Friends list.
  5. On the Privacy Settings > News Feed and Wall page, deselect all checkboxes under “Actions Visible to Friends.”
  6. On the Applications page, deauthorize all applications.
  7. Leave any networks you’ve joined. You can do this by visiting the Settings > Account Settings > Networks page.
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