Sony’s PlayStation 4 has a social media-style dashboard. Your friends can view your PlayStation activity along with your real name, and your account may be discoverable to your Facebook friends if you’ve linked your PlayStation 4 with Facebook.
You can manage these privacy settings in your PlayStation 4’s Settings screen, tweaking them to whatever you’re comfortable with.
To access these settings, head to your PlayStation 4’s home screen, press “Up,” scroll to the right, and select the “Settings” icon.
Select “PlayStation Network/Account Management” on the Settings screen to access your account options.
Manage Facebook and Other Social Media Accounts
Select “Link with Other Services” to control whether your PlayStation 4 is linked with social media services like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Dailymotion.
From here, you can choose the services that are linked with your account. These services primarily allow you to post screenshots and video clips to your social media pages, and the PlayStation 4 won’t share anything without your permission. However, sign into Facebook and your Facebook friends will be able to find your PlayStation 4 account.
You can customize exactly how Facebook integration works in the privacy settings, but you can also choose to unlink your Facebook account here if that bothers you. Or, if you haven’t set up Facebook integration yet and would like to, you can select “Facebook” here to sign in on Facebook.
Only master account holders can link social media accounts, not users of sub-accounts.
Manage Your Privacy Settings
Select “Privacy Settings” on the PlayStation Network/Account Management screen to access your PlayStation’s privacy settings.
You’ll have to provide your PlayStation Network account’s password to continue.
Once you’ve signed in, you’ll see four categories: Sharing Your Experience, Connecting with Friends, Managing Your Friends List and Messages, and Protecting Your Information.
Sharing Your Experience
The Sharing Your Experience screen controls who can see your PlayStation 4-related activities. There are two options here: Activities and Trophies.
Activities show what you’re doing on your PlayStation 4. This includes which games you play, which videos you watch, and which trophies you earn in video games. By default, “friends of friends” can view this information. This means people you’re friends with and people they’re friends with. However, you can restrict it to just friends or no one at all–or even let anyone view this information.
On a PlayStation, “trophies” are the equivalent of achievements on platforms like Microsoft’s Xbox and Valve’s Steam. You earn them for making progress in games, completing games, and other accomplishments. By default, anyone can see the trophies you’ve earned. However, you can restrict this information to friends of friends, only friends, or no one at all. You can also choose to exclude trophies from specific games if you don’t want your friends knowing you’ve played a specific game.
Connecting With Friends
The Connecting With Friends screen controls who can send you friend requests, who can see your real name, whether people can find your PlayStation account by searching for your real name, and who your PlayStation recommends you connect with.
By default, anyone can send you a friend request. Only close friends of your close friends–that is, friends who’ve accepted a friend quest and been given permission to see your real name–will be able to see your real name and profile picture. No one can find you by searching for your real name. Your PlayStation 4 will only recommend you connect with close friends of your close friends.
These settings are fairly private by default, but you can choose to make them less so. You could let people find you by searching for your real name if you want to be more discoverable to people who know you, and share your real name with more gamers. Or, you could tighten them, preventing people from sending you friend requests and ensuring your real name doesn’t appear on other people’s consoles at all.
If you’ve connected your PlayStation 4 with your Facebook account, you can also adjust whether your PlayStation Network account is recommended to your Facebook friends through the “Players You May Know” feature.
Managing Your Friends List and Messages
The Managing Your Friends List and Messages screen controls who can view your friends list and who can see your real name and profile picture in games. It also controls who can send you friend requests, requests to watch your gameplay, and messages.
By default, friends of friends can view your friends list and only close friends can see your real name in games. Anyone can send you a friend request or message, while only friends can send a request to watch your gameplay.
You can adjust these settings from here–for example, you could restrict your friends from viewing your friends list and make it private. If you don’t want to receive messages from people who aren’t your friends, you could have your PS4 allow incoming messages only from friends.
The “Friend Requests” option here is the same option as on the Connecting With Friends screen above. It’s just duplicated here to make it easier to find, as it make sense in both sections.
Protecting Your Information
The Protecting Your Information screen gives you a single screen that makes it easy to control where your real name appears, and who can find you through recommendations.
If you’ve gone through the above sections, you’ll notice that this screen just contains the same options offered on the above screens. These personal-information-related settings are located in a single place so you can easily find them and change them all at once.
Lots of these features depend on who you’re friends with. To access your friends list, visit the PS4’s home screen, press the “Up” button to access the row of icons on top of the screen, and select “Friends.” You can view your friends list, remove friends, search for friends, and add them from here.
Welcome to TNW Basics, a collection of tips, tricks, guides, and advice on how to get the most out of your gadgets, apps, and other stuff.
The PlayStation Network is a perfectly serviceable gaming network, and you can meet some lovely people though it. But the truth is some gamers just want to play their single-player games and be left alone. If you’re one of those gamers, then here’s how you can access all the options which will allow you to conceal almost everything about you on PSN.
Level-up your marketing strategy
What are the secrets of the most successful brands?
The first option you might want to change is your online status, which allows your friends to see whether you’re online or not. You can do this from your profile, using this option:
To your friends or whomever else can see you on the PSN, you’ll be “offline.” This is how it’ll look on the main menu:
All other privacy settings have to be done from the PS4‘s settings menu, which you can access both from the toolbox icon on the main menu (it’s in the Account Management submenu), or from the ellipsis icon next to the status option.
One thing to keep in mind is that the PS4 requires you to reenter your password when you want to change the privacy settings. This might seem like an inconvenience, but it’s very helpful if you have more than one person playing on your PS4. You’re the only one who can change how concealed you are on the service. (Also, it almost goes without saying, but don’t give your password out to anyone.)
Now, once you get into your privacy options, you’ll find all of the other items you can hide from the rest of the world. These are separated into three submenus: games, friends, and personal info. In each menu, you’ll find various options which allow you to adjust who can see your activity, send you messages, etc.
In Personal Info, you can protect yourself from unfamiliar messages, and control who can find you by your real name. This can be especially important for those who want to protect their online anonymity. While it’s not as common anymore, swatting is still a potential hazard, as is stalking and general invasion of privacy. I would advise anyone to keep their real name under the PSN’s figurative lock and key.
The “Mobile Availability” option controls if you’re visible in the PlayStation app, which is separate from your PSN status that you can adjust on your profile.
It should be noted that it’s not just the shy or private who should know about these options. While it’s (again) not exceptionally common, malicious attackers have, in the past, been able to brick a PS4 via message. Knowing where to find options like these can help you protect yourself in the event such an attack happens again.
In the Friends menu, you’ll be able to control who can send you friend requests. This menu can be a bit confusing, as it allows you to control both who sends you things, and who can see things:
For clarity, “Friend Requests” and “Team Invitations” control who can send you requests of some type. “Friends,” and the two list options control who can see your information. “Players Who Can Follow You” is pretty self-explanatory, and “Players You May Know” controls if other players can see you in the eponymous section.
Hey Sony, if you’re taking requests, perhaps phrase these options as questions. These would be much more consistent if they were listed in this menu as “Who can send you friend requests?” or “Who can see your list of followers?”
In the Gaming/Media menu, you’ll find options to conceal your achievements and game-playing activity from everyone, as I have done:
There’s one option here you might not know what to do with: Hidden Games. This option allows you conceal a particular game you’re playing, so that no one will be able to know you’re playing that game, or be able to see it in your trophy list. While it might not be immensely helpful to the average user, it can be useful if, for example, you’re playing a single-player game with a multiplayer component and you don’t want people bothering you to play multiplayer.
It should be noted that all but one of these options allow you to select “No One.” The only one which doesn’t is “Players Who Can Follow You,” which only allows you to restrict it to Friends or Anyone. But if you’ve already selected “No One” in the friend requests option, then this won’t be an issue.
Knowing and having control of your options is instrumental in protecting yourself online anyway, but it can be especially important for the often-younger gamers who use these consoles. So make sure you go through all of these yourself at least once when you get a new PS4.
Want more TNW Basics? Let us know what you’d like to learn about in the comments.