Facebook has again made changes with new privacy settings, which will start rolling out to accounts over the next few weeks.

One of the changes is to the Public Search option which is being removed. Facebook account holders who previously used this privacy setting will no longer have this option. This means that as your account name can be searched publicly, ANYONE, including those people who are not on Facebook, may be in a position to find you.

For Officer Safety purposes a suggestion would be to make a slight alteration to your name, so as not to become obvious in a search result, but still enough detail that is known to your friends & family. Be thoughtful to consider the Facebook terms of service (SRR), when doing this. It may also be viable that if you do not want the public to view a personal photo of you, to change your profile picture to an avatar.

The change to public search DOES NOT change who can view your profile. If you have your privacy settings in place, this will not change. For children’s accounts the public search option will remain in inactive for them until they attain the age of 18years, where it will then go public automatically.

Regarding your profile picture and cover photo. The cover photo is the large picture that spreads across your Timeline which is public view by default and cannot be changed. It is best that personal photos, especially of you or your family, are not displayed here.

The Profile picture is the smaller picture which identifies you on Facebook. Every time you post or engage in activity on Facebook this picture represents you. Ensure your profile picture is credible and not displaying anything that may be construed as offensive or detrimental to you or your workplace.

The profile picture is also public by default, however you can click into the photo and change the view, so only your friends can see the larger version of the picture. Changing the audience to friends, disallows the public to view the larger portion of the photo AND any comments or likes that accompany it.

Click on your Profile picture – it will open to a larger view of the photo – under your name and next to where the date is displayed, you will see a grey icon, (in most instances this will be a World Globe), this is the audience selector – click on this to display a drop down box – choose the Friends option.

Just to re-iterate this does not remove your profile picture from the public search view, it only prevents the public from viewing the larger version of your photo AND any comments or likes that accompany it.

Janita Docherty founder and Director of CyberActive Services is a trained Crime Prevention Executive with more than 18 years experience in the field of law and criminal investigation. Janita specialises in Facebook and Internet Safety instruction and is recognised for her work with law enforcement Units dedicated in the fields of E-Crime, Sex Crime, State Intelligence and Tactical Intelligence areas. Janita has an intricate knowledge on the workings of Facebook from a criminal intelligence perspective and is a leader in her field regarding Facebook training to Police and specialist law enforcement departments both in Australia and the United States. Janita has completed training with the Internet Crime Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce, and holds a number of Certifications, including a Diploma in Frontline Management, a full qualification in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), is a Youth Mental Health First Aider and has been presented with a National Service Medal. She is held in high regard within social media and law enforcement domains, for her enthusiasm to educate professionals, regarding online safety and digital reputation management.