How the top social networks compare on privacy -- in one handy chart

Not all privacy settings are created equal. Here’s an in-depth look at what Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ offer users.

social network privacy
Credit: ITworld/Stephen Sauer

Nearly three-quarters of people with access to the Internet use social networking sites, a number that has skyrocketed since early 2005, according to the Pew Research Center. As social networks continue to permeate our everyday lives, so do the privacy and security risks associated with our accounts.

Here's a look at how Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ stack up on user privacy and security settings, plus instructions for finding and updating these options to maintain control over your account.

Privacy comparison chart: Facebook vs. LinkedIn vs. Twitter vs. Google+ ITworld/Stephen Sauer

Click the arrows to see full-size image

Limits profile visibility upon sign-up

Facebook: Facebook's default privacy setting for new users is set to Friends Only. To review or update this, visit Settings > Privacy > Who can see your future posts?

Twitter: By default, your posts are public. The only privacy setting to limit the audience of your tweets is to set your profile to Protected, which means only followers you approve will see your tweets. Settings > Security and privacy > Privacy > Tweet Privacy > Protect my Tweets.

LinkedIn: By default, your profile is public. To change this: Settings > Account > Helpful Links > Edit your public profile. You can choose to make your public profile visible to no one, or pick and choose which details you’d like to display.

Google+: By default, your posts are public. To change this setting, type the name of a Circle in the "To" field below your post before you publish it. More on audience selection here.

Control how people can search for you

Facebook: Facebook lets others find your profile by searching for your email address and phone number. To change this, visit Settings > Privacy > Who can look me up? Click Edit next to the email address and phone number options.

Twitter: Settings > Security and privacy > Privacy > Discoverability. Check or uncheck the email address and phone number options, then click Save.

LinkedIn: Privacy & Settings > Profile > Privacy Controls > Manage who can discover you by your phone number.

Google+: You cannot control how people search for you.

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