If you haven’t done so, please read the previous article Facebook Privacy and Security Settings: Security Settings
Now, on to the Privacy Settings…
Facebook is all about connections. The more connections people have, the more information is shared. Therefore, it’s in Facebook’s best interest to create connections whenever and however possible. We will cover other types of connecitons later, but the connections we are going to mainly focus on are:
- Friends: a person requests to be another’s friend and the other approves the request
- Friends of friends: two people are not friends, but they have a mutual friend
- Public: two people are not friends and have no mutual friends
For illustration purposes, imagine four people, Cersei, Joffery, Sandor and Rob. Cersei and Joffery are Friends, and Joffery and Sandor are Friends. This makes Cersei and Sandor Friends of Friends to each other. No one is friends with Rob (don’t worry, Rob has lots of friends, just not the other three in the picture). This means Rob is considered Public to the other three and the other three are considered Public to Rob.
All set? Here we go!
NOTE: Remember, a "post" could be a picture, a status update, any Facebook activity.
NOTE: You can click on the screen grabs to get a larger view. They will open in a new window or tab, simply close the new window or tab to return to the article rather than hitting the Back button on your browser.
- Go to your timeline (click on your name in the blue bar at the very top)
- Click "Privacy shortcuts" (the little padlock icon)
- From the bottom of the list, click "See More Settings"
Privacy Settings and Tools
From the left-hand menu, click "Privacy"
Who can see my stuff?
Who can see your future posts?
The settings we are about to change will only apply to posts made from this point forward; don’t worry, we’ll deal with old posts later.
Public: Anyone who views your timeline will see these posts whether they are friends with you or not (Cersei’s posts would be visible to all the others).
Friends: Only immediate friends will see these posts (Cersei’s posts would only be visible to Joffery).
Only me: No one but you will see these posts (Cersei’s posts would not be visible to any of the other three).
Custom: When you select this option, you are presented with two lists: "Share this with" and "Don’t share this with". As you type in the input fields, suggestions will pop up. Here they are explained:
Share this with:
Friends: Only friends will see these posts (we covered this earlier).
Friends of friends: Only immediate friends and immediate friends of those friends will see these posts (Cersei’s posts would be visible to Joffery and Sandor but not Rob).
Specific people or lists: Any people/lists you add will see these posts (you can create lists of friends on Facebook, all of these lists will be available when you start typing in the input box). "Close Friends" is a feature on Facebook, it’s basically just another way to group your friends. You can designate someone as a close friend by clicking "Home" at the top and then "Close friends" from the left-hand menu.
Friends of those tagged checkbox: Checking this check box means if anyone is tagged in a post, their friends will be able to see the post regardless of their connection to you (even if they have no connection to you). In other words, if Cersei’s posts are visible to "Friends of Friends" then Sandor can see it, which is what she is expecting (if she’s read this tutorial).
However, if Sandor decides to tag one of his Friends in the post (let’s call her Sansa), and that person is a Friend of Rob (which she is), then not only will Sansa see the post, Rob will see it too. Do you see how quickly your content can become visible to people you don’t even know?
This one is very important so I’m going to use a real-life illustration. My ex and I are not friends on Facebook (we get along fine, we just have no need to see each other’s social activity). She is friends with many of my friends and family (in real life and on Facebook). I post a picture. A family member of mine who can see the post tags my ex in the picture (remember, we are not friends on Facebook). Not only does my ex see the picture in her feed (which is fine by me, she’s in the picture after all). But all of her Facebook friends can now see the picture too. Sometimes people tag my ex in my pictures of my children so that she’ll see it. That’s ok with me because I never choose "Friends of those tagged" as an option, so the only person I am not friends with who will see it is my ex if she is tagged.
Don’t share this with: Adding people and lists of people to this input box will prevent them from seeing these posts regardless of their connection to you and this will override any other settings. So if your boss requests you as a friend, you can accept so you don’t get fired, then set your privacy so s/he never sees any of your posts.
NOTE: Anytime you make a post, you have the option of who will see the post. This is not a one-time thing! Many people believe this setting will only apply to this particular post and that all future posts after this one will revert to your "default" as we just set previously. This is not the case. What the "inline" setting allows you to do is change the setting for all future posts without having to go to your settings page. In other words, changing it for one posts changes it for all future posts until you change it again either inline in another post, or by going back to your settings page.
Review all your posts and things you’re tagged in
We’ll look at the "Activity Log" later
Limit The Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline
Posts you have made prior to changing these settings may have been set to Public, Friends of Friends, etc. You can manually go back through every post on your timeline and, using the little drop-down in the upper-right corner of the post, change the audience for each post (which will take forever); or you can click the button and, in one fell swoop, limit all old posts to Friends only. Sounds great right? Here’s the catch: anyone tagged in old posts, no matter who tagged them or when, will still be able to see those old posts as will all of their friends! In other words, if Rob was tagged in one of Cersie’s old posts before she changed her settings, he will continue to see that post as will all of his friends until Cersie either finds the post and changes the settings on the post itself, or finds it and untags Rob from the post.
Who can contact me?
Who can send you friend requests? Your options are limited to "Everyone" or "Friends of friends"
Whose messages do I want filtered into my Inbox? All this does is try to guess at which messages should go to your Inbox and which should go to your Other box. You are limited to "Basic" (you may get some unwanted messages in your Inbox) or "Strict" (you may get some wanted messages in your Other box). Remember, anyone who knows your username can message you, even if you are not friends and/or you have blocked them.
Who can look you up using the email address or phone number you provided?
If you don’t want people who aren’t already Friends to be able to find you on Facebook using the e-mail address and/or phone number you used to sign up, change this setting to "Friends". Obviously, if you change it to "Friends of Friends", then Friends of your existing Friends will also be able to find you.
Update: Facebook has separated the option for e-mail and phone number so you can now have different settings for each.
Do you want other search engines to link to your Timeline?
If this check box is checked then your Timeline could appear in a Google search (or any internet search). If you don’t want this to happen, uncheck the check box. It may take a few days or even weeks for some search engines to be "indexed" and stop displaying your Timeline in search results.
Although that’s it for the official Privacy Settings, the settings we just made really have mostly to do with content you post. The next settings are more about content your friends post, but they have just as much to do with your privacy as your own Privacy settings do.
Did you find this helpful? Is there something you’d like to see covered that isn’t here? Did I make a mistake or give bad information? Let me know in the comments below, feedback is appreciated!