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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 all of your Basic Directory Information and Sharing controls to the narrowest possible setting (in most cases Friends Only) on the Privacy Settings page.
  2. Be sure to set your Search Visibility to Friends Only (the narrowest possible setting) on the Basic Directory Info page, and turn off your public search listing if it was enabled.
  3. You may also want to delete personal info from your profile, using the Edit links on your Info tab, if you’ve entered any. The only info you can’t erase from your profile is your name. Everything else—your location, your birthday, your bio—is optional. (Note that although you may not be able to remove your gender, you can hide it so it isn’t displayed.)
  4. On the Applications You Use page, deauthorize all applications. (See the Applications and Other Add-Ons chapter for how to do this.)
  5. Leave any networks you’ve joined. You can do this by visiting the Account > Account Settings > Networks page.
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