Facebook's capacious memory is a double-edged sword – on the one hand, it's great for seeing what you or friends have posted; but on the other, it builds up a huge database of information on your life.
This can be unnerving when you realise that pictures from a graduation party will still be residing on the company's servers in 10 years when you're looking for a responsible job with a law firm.
Understand Facebook privacy settings
To find out just how much the social network knows about you, you can download a copy of your Facebook data. Head to the 'Settings' menu, and under the 'General settings' tab there's an option to 'Download your Facebook data'. Even with the company's powerful computers it takes sometime to compile the data, and the company will email when the file is ready to download.
This is all information that you have supplied, but since the introduction of a new Timeline interface for Facebook, it's easier for anyone to see a long list of past posts, so it makes sense to review privacy settings.
Take control of your Facebook privacy settings
They can be bewildering, but Facebook does have controls that can limit who sees what, whether people can find you via searches and for restricting access to older content.
How you configure your privacy settings is a highly personal choice, but it's worth taking a trawl through the options so that the decision is yours rather than Facebook's - which by default makes almost everything available to everyone.
Who sees Facebook status updates?
After a lot of criticism, Facebook has changed the way individual posts are controlled, allowing you to decide who can see a new post or photo more easily.
At the bottom-right of status updates, there's a drop down arrow with options for who can see your post. It normally shares that information with 'Everyone', but click on the arrow to change that to 'Friends' or a customised collection of close friends or work colleagues.
Facebook Timeline controls
Timeline is a recent change to Facebook that's proven controversial because it creates a comprehensive history of your posts, and allows others to post to it directly.
Limit old posts
One of the biggest criticisms of the Facebook Timeline is that it resurfaces old posts and photographs you may have forgotten about and may no longer wish to be visible to everyone, even including your friends.
To ensure that all older posts are only visible to people you agree should see these posts head to the main Privacy Settings page and where it says Limit the audience for posts you've shared with friends of friends or public click Limit Past Posts.
Review before publication
You can also adjust your settings so that you have a chance to check other people's posts before they appear on your Timeline.
Access your Timeline privacy settings and where it says Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your Timeline, click the arrow (facing right) and click the down arrow beside the word Disabled. Click Enabled and then click Back.
However, as Facebook points out, 'This only controls what's allowed on your Timeline. Posts you're tagged in still appear in search, news feed and other places on Facebook.'
You can prevent people from posting on your Timeline by selecting Timeline and Tagging from the privacy menu. Where it says Who can post on your Timeline?, click the down arrow and choose either Friends or No-one for extra control.
Similarly, click the drop-down arrow to set who is allowed to see posts on your Timeline when you’re tagged.