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The Complete Guide to Facebook Privacy Settings

by on July 08, 2021
in Facebook, Computers and Software, Computer Safety & Support, Tips & How-Tos, Privacy, Tech 101, Social Networking :: 448 comments

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Privacy issues and privacy controls on Facebook are ever-changing, and I've read through hundreds of comments and emails from our readers who are confused about how to keep their information private and what specific Facebook privacy settings actually do.

For example, when you post a picture of your kids at a family gathering, which one of your Facebook friends can share it? What private information are those Facebook game apps collecting for "third-party uses"? How do you make sure that your live video stream is seen only by people you choose?

Every action you take on Facebook has privacy and sharing implications that you need to consider before uploading that next selfie. However, it takes a lot of time to check all of your Facebook settings and, even then, it's not always clear what the right choices are to ensure your privacy is protected.

I just went through a complete review of every Facebook privacy setting currently available (Facebook is constantly making changes and I will continue to update this article). My recommendation for most people is to start with Facebook's "Privacy Checkup", which covers many of the key areas. In this guide, I will walk you through how to do the Privacy Checkup, and break it down setting-by-setting to make it easy for you to decide what you should change. I also have direct links to "hidden" Facebook settings that aren't part of the standard Checkup but have important privacy implications.  

Screenshot of Facebook Privacy Checkup main page with tiles for Who can see what you share, How to keep your account secure, How people can find you on Facebook, Your data settings on Facebook, Your ad preferences

To get to Facebook's Privacy Checkup, open the menu (dropdown arrow on laptops or triple bars in the mobile app), select "Settings & Privacy," and then select "Privacy Checkup" (for laptops) or "Privacy Shortcuts" and then "Privacy Checkup" (in the mobile app). Here, you can find an easy-to-follow walkthrough of your current settings as they pertain to:

  • Who can see what you share
  • How to keep your account secure
  • How people can find you on Facebook
  • Your data settings on Facebook
  • Your ad preferences on Facebook

Who can see what you share on Facebook

In this section, you can check your profile information, settings for Posts and Stories, and settings for blocking people. You can limit your audience to just you, your Facebook Friends or Custom lists that you create. For instance, you can create a family list, acquaintances list, or work list. Go to facebook.com/friends and click on Custom Lists to get started.

Screenshot of Facebook's Friends Custom Lists page showing Restricted, Acquaintances and Close Friends as lists. On the right is a Family custom list with images of people below.

Choose who sees your profile information

Here you can see the privacy settings – who can view your information – for your phone number, email addresses, birthday, hometown, relationship status, and other personal details about your life.

Set email addresses associated with your Facebook account

Under emails, it will show all email addresses associated with your account and who can view them. Email addresses are important because you can use any of them to log into your account with your Facebook password. Be careful to remove any old email address or ones where you're not using secure passwords, because if that email address is hacked it could compromise your Facebook account, as well.

For email addresses that you still have but don't others to use or see, you can limit the audience to “Only me.” If you find an email address that you don't want to be associated with your account, you can't delete it through Facebook's Privacy Checkup. If you want to delete an email, go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=account. Under General Account Settings, clicking on Contact will reveal a list of email addresses that you can make your primary email or remove.

Set your birthday and who can see it on Facebook

For your birthday, you can choose to share your whole birthday or just the month and day. That way, your Friends can wish you a happy birthday on Facebook on your special day without necessarily knowing your exact age. Birthdays are sometimes used as a security verification for various services, so you want to keep it as protected as possible.

You can also set your birthday by going to go to your profile page (you can access it by clicking on your name in the menu bar) and clicking on "About." In the "Contact and Basic Info" section, you can change the settings for your birthday.

Set your hometown and current city on Facebook

For your hometown, this setting only affects what your Friends can see. Advertisers and others may still access this information, especially if you are using the Facebook app, which tracks your location automatically.

You can also set your hometown and current city by going to go to your profile page (you can access it by clicking on your name in the menu bar) and clicking on "About." In the "Overview" section, you can change the settings for your hometown and current city.

Set your relationship status on Facebook

If you have set a relationship with another Facebook user, it will be shared unless you set it otherwise.

You can also set your relationship status by going to go to your profile page (you can access it by clicking on your name in the menu bar) and clicking on "About." In the "Overview" section, you can change the settings for your relationship status.

Set your work history and where you went to school

You can choose to share your work history and where you went to high school, college, and graduate school. Each of these entries has its own audience setting from "Only me" up to including "Everyone." This setting may help old friends find you, it also may be used for targeted advertising.

You can also set your work history and where you went to school by going to go to your profile page (you can access it by clicking on your name in the menu bar) and clicking on "About." In the "Work and Education" section, you can change the settings for your work history and where you went to school.

Choose who can see your friends list on your profile page

If you want to limit who can see your list of Facebook Friends, you can set your audience from "Only me" up to including "Everyone." Since friend lists can be used for phishing and to create fake profiles, I highly recommend setting this to Friends only.

You can also choose who can see your friends list on your profile page by going directly to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy and you'll find the option in the "How People Find and Contact You" section. 

Choose who can see the people, Pages, and lists you follow

Facebook lumps people, Pages, and lists that you follow together. So it's all people, Pages, and lists or nothing. You can set your audience from "Only me" up to including "Everyone." Consider whether there are any sensitive Pages you follow that you wouldn't want the world to know about.

You can choose who can see the people, Pages, and lists you follow by going directly to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy and you'll find the option in the "Your Activity" section.

See how other people view your Facebook profile page

If you're curious about what your Facebook profile looks like to other people, you can go to your profile page (you can access it by clicking on your name in the menu bar) and click on the triple dots next to the "Edit Profile" button and select "View As."

Screenshot of Facebook profile page. You see in the top menu bar the person's name pointed out. Below on the right you see three dots pointed out with a drop-down menu with View as (pointed out), Search Profile, Account Status, Archive, Activity Log and Profile and Tagging Settings.

Choose who can comment on your public profile pictures and other public profile information

When you post a new profile picture or change other information that you've made available to "Everyone," you can still limit who can like or comment. This setting is not available through Privacy Checkup. If you want to limit what random people can say on your profile pictures, go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=followers, and you can select "Friends," "Friends of Friends," or "Everyone."

Add more information to your Facebook profile page

To add more information to your Facebook profile page, go to your profile page (you can access it by clicking on your name in the menu bar). In the About tab, you'll see all of the categories of information that you can add your religious views, political views, your social channels, websites, primary language, nickname, birth name, and more. For each piece of information, you can see your audience from "Only Me" up to including "Everyone." Most of this stuff seems to serve little purpose except for use in targeted advertising.

Choose your audience for Posts and Stories

In this section, you can select who can read your future posts and stories, as well as read your prior posts on Facebook.

Choose who can view your future posts

"Future Posts" is where you set your default audience for your regular posts, including text posts, photos, and videos. These are the normal Facebook options for "Friends," "Friends of Friends," "Everyone," or "Custom." My advice is to keep it to Friends unless you are trying to promote yourself to everyone or you have a specific need for a Custom setting (e.g., to exclude a toxic friend or relative).

You can choose who can see your future posts by going directly to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy and you'll find the option in the "Your Activity" section.

You can always override your default setting for a specific post at the time you create it by clicking on the downward caret next to the audience and selecting a new one.

Choose who can comment on your public posts

When you create a public post, everyone on Facebook can see it. However, you can limit who gets to comment on your public posts. This is not available through Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=followers, and you can select "Friends," "Friends of Friends," or "Everyone."

Choose additional people who can see a post you are tagged in

If someone tags you in a post, you can choose whether to allow additional people to view the post (e.g., your Facebook Friends) if they aren't already in the post's audience. You can also control how these posts appear on your Facebook profile.

You can choose who can see posts you're tagged in by going directly to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=timeline and you'll find the option in the "Tagging" section.

Choose who can post on your profile

You can limit the people who can post on your profile page from "Only me" up to including "Everyone." This option is not available through the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=timeline, and you'll find this option in the Viewing and Sharing section. My advice is to keep it to Friends or Friend of Friends, unless you enjoy random comments from strangers.

Choose to hide comments with specific words on your profile page

If you're concerned about crude language appearing on your profile page, you can add up to 1,000 keywords that will cause a post to be hidden. The post will still remain visible to the people who posted and their Facebook Friends. This option is not available through the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=timeline, and you'll find this option in the Viewing and Sharing section. Though you're probably better off just limiting who can post to your profile above to Friends (unless your friends are the problem!)

Choose who can see what others post on your profile page

You may not want everyone to see what other people are posting on your profile page. You can change the audience from "Only me" up to including "Everyone." This option is not available through the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=timeline, and you'll find this option in the Viewing and Sharing section.

When you are tagged in a post created by someone else, choose who can see the post

If you are tagged in a post by someone on Facebook, some of your Facebook friends may not see the post because they aren't in the audience designated by the person who created the post. You can choose to make posts that you are tagged in visible to all of your Facebook Friends or a custom group of your Friends. Or, you can choose not to expand the audience by selecting "Only me." This option is not available through the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=timeline, and you'll find the option in the Tagging section.

Choose to review posts you're tagged in before they appear on your profile

If you are tagged in a post, the post defaults to automatically showing up on your Timeline. I recommend you choose the setting to review the posts before they appear. This is not available through the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=timeline, and you'll find the option in the Reviewing section.

Find and remove old posts from your Timeline that you were tagged in

Ever been tagged in an embarrassing photo from two decades ago uploaded by that old college classmate? You can remove these tagged items, but not through the Privacy Checkup. Go to your profile page (you can access it by clicking on your name in the menu bar) and click on Manage Posts.

Screenshot of Facebook profile page. On the right side, you see from the top: Edit cover Photo, Edit Profile, Life Event and then Manage Posts, which is pointed out.

In the box that pops up, click on Filters. In the Post Filters box, you can select "only show posts I'm tagged in." You can choose to hide the posts or remove the posts. First, go through and select the posts where you want to remove yourself (untag yourself), click "Next," and select "Remove Tags." Then go through and select the posts that you want to be able to view but don't want others to see in your Timeline, click Next, and then select "Hide Posts."

Choose to review tags people add to your posts before they appear on Facebook

Posting an old photo from a school or work outing? Once you share it, your Facebook Friends may want to tag more people in the photo. By default, your Facebook Friends can add tags. However, you can choose to review these tags before they appear on your post. This option is not available through the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=timeline, and you'll find the option in the Reviewing section.

Choose who can view old posts

The setting for "Limit Past Posts" only applies to Public posts. You can choose to restrict the audience to only Friends or Friends of friends. When you limit your past posts here, it will apply to ALL of your public posts. We recommend the Friends setting over the Public one. When set to Public, all of your posts can be seen by anyone on or off Facebook. Unless you're a celebrity or running a page that is used to generate interest in a business that you run, you will likely want to keep your activity restricted to those you have Friended. Keep in mind that anyone who is tagged in your posts and their Facebook friends may still be able to view these posts.

You can choose who can view old posts by going directly to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy and clicking on "Limit Past Posts" in the "Your Activity" section.

Choosing an audience for a single old post

If you want to change the audience for specific posts, you'll have to go into each post individually to change it. You can change the sharing settings of any individual Facebook update by clicking on the triple dots, then sharing button to the left of the Post button.

Choose who can view your Stories

For "Stories," which are visible for 24 hours, you can limit your audience to your Facebook Friends or create a custom list of people with whom you want to share your stories. You can only set your default story audience within the Privacy Checkup. For individual stories, click on the cog next to "Your Story" when you create a story and you'll find the option to change your story audience for that story.

Choose whether you will allow others to share your posts to their Stories

If you tag someone in any post, that person can share it to their Story, along with your full name and a link to your post. You can disable this feature, but not through the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=timeline, and you'll find this option in the Viewing and Sharing section.

Choose whether you will allow others to share your public Stories to their own Story

If your Story is public, you can allow others to share your Story to their own Story, along with your full name and a link to your original Story. You cannot turn off this feature through Privacy Checkup. Go to  www.facebook.com/settings?tab=stories to make your choice.

Choose whether you will allow others to share your stories if you tag them

If you tag someone in your Story, that person can share your Story, along with your full name and a link to your original Story. You cannot turn off this feature through Privacy Checkup. Go to  www.facebook.com/settings?tab=stories to make your choice.

Block a person from interacting with you on Facebook

Blocking a person means that you are invisible to that person on Facebook. So if a mutual Friend tags you in a post, that person won't see the post. If you comment on a mutual Friend's post, that person won't see the comment. There are a few exceptions. If you both use a Facebook app or game or if you've both joined a group, the blocked person could see you. And, the person you block won't disappear entirely from your view. If a mutual Friend posts a photo and tags the blocked person, you may still see it on your Friend's timeline. 

To block someone, go directly to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=blocking and add their name in the "Block users" section. 

Block just messages and video calls

If you just want to stop a person from sending you messages or attempting to connect via a video call in Messenger, you can go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=blocking and add their name in the "Block messages" box.

Block just app invites

If you just want to stop a person from sending invitations to try an app (occurs when one of your friends is trying to get free stuff in a game), you can go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=blocking and add their name in the "Block app invites" box.

Block just event invites

If you just want to stop a person from sending event invitations, you can go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=blocking and add their name in the "Block event invites" box.

Block apps

If you want an app to stop contacting you and prevent the app from obtaining non-public information about you through Facebook, you can go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=blocking and add the name of the app in the "Block apps" box.

Block Pages

If you want a Page to stop interacting with your posts or be able to like or reply to your comments, you can go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=blocking and add the name of the Page in the "Block Pages" box. You will be unable to post to the Page's Timeline or message the Page. And, if you currently like the Page, blocking the Page will automatically unlike and unfollow the Page.

How to keep your account secure

In this section, you can change your password, turn on two-factor authentication, and get alerts when there is an unrecognized login to your account. If you already have two-factor authentication turned on and alerts are set for unrecognized logins, you'll receive the message that "You're all set. No security actions are recommended at this time."

Use a strong password

Do you have a strong password for your Facebook account – one that is unique to Facebook and at least 12 characters, including upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters? If the answer is no, you should consider upgrading to a strong password. To ensure you remember your new strong password and to make it easier to use strong passwords going forward, we recommend using a password manager. Our current Techlicious Top Pick for the best password manager is Dashlane. We're also fans (and users) of 1Password, as well.

Turn on two-factor authentication

A strong password is essential, but that's not enough if it's compromised in a data breach or you are tricked into giving it away in a Facebook credentials phishing attack. That's where two-factor authentication comes in. When two-factor authentication is turned on, anyone trying to log into your account from a new device or browser would need to provide a one-time-use code delivered via an app, text message, or email. I highly recommend turning on two-factor authentication. 

You can also go directly to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=security and find the option to turn on two-factor authentication in the "Two-Factor Authentication" section.

You should also check the list of devices and browsers that don't require a code when you log in to ensure there aren't any of your old devices on the list. You can't check this through the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=security, and in the Two-Factor Authentication box, click on "View" next to "Authorized Logins."

Receive alerts when there is an unrecognized login to your Facebook account

Login alerts can be sent any time that you log into your account from a device or browser that you don't usually use. I highly recommend turning on alerts. You can choose to have alerts sent via Facebook, Messenger, email, or any combination of these methods.

You can go directly to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=security, and click on "Edit" next to "Get alerts about unrecognized logins" in the "Setting Up Extra Security" section.

You can see where you're logged into Facebook – the device and physical location – by going to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=security and checking the box entitled "Where You're Logged In." If you see a suspicious login, you can click on the triple dots next to it and "Log Out" that device.

How people can find you on Facebook

This section walks you through the ways that you can limit how people can find you through search engines (like Google), or with your phone number, email or name on through Facebook.

Choose who can send you a Friend request

You have two options for limiting who can send you a Friend request: Everyone or Friends of friends. Unless you're being inundated with requests or don't want to be found, I recommend leaving the setting on Everyone so legitimate people who want to connect can.

You can access this directly by going to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy and you'll find the option in the "How People Find and Contact You" section.

Choose whether people can use your phone number or email to find you

People can look you up on Facebook with your phone number or email address, even if you have them hidden on your profile. This method make it easy for people you know to find you, especially if you have a common name on Facebook, like Jane Smith. Have the settings option set to "Everyone" or "Friends of Friends" if you want people to find you using your email address or phone number. Or, you can also choose to fully hide your email addresses or phone numbers by selecting "Only me" as the audience. The settings you choose apply to all of your phone numbers or all of your email addresses.

You can access this directly by going to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy and you'll find the option in the "How People Find and Contact You" section.

Choose whether your Facebook profile appears on search engines

You can find your Facebook profile on search engines like Google. If you don't want your Facebook profile coming up in search, you can toggle this setting off in the privacy checkup or you can access it directly by going to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy and looking in the "How People Find and Contact You" section.

Your data settings on Facebook

Facebook makes it easy to log into other websites and apps with your Facebook account. Likewise, Facebook makes tagging easy by using face recognition to suggest people to tag in photos. If these conveniences are too invasive for you, here's where to turn them off.

Using Facebook to log into apps and websites

Instead of creating a new user name and password for an app or website, you may have used your Facebook account. If you no longer use the app or website, it's a good idea to remove the connection. However, some apps and websites may hold valuable information in your account. When you remove the connection to your Facebook account, you lose access to your account. 

If you want to delete your connection, click on "Remove" next to the website or app name. In the pop up window you'll be given the option to "delete all of the posts, photos, and videos that the site or app has posted on your Timeline" and/or "Allow Facebook to notify [app name] the the login was removed." This second option may enable you to recover data in the account you created with your Facebook login. 

Screenshot of removing app from Facebook. Shows removing Golfshot game with the options to

You can remove apps and sites by going to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications. While you're there, you should  click on the "View and Edit" button next to any app and website logins you want to keep to check what data the app or site is collecting and see what information is required for the connection and what is optional. 

Turn off login with Facebook for apps, websites, and games

You can turn off the ability to use Facebook to log into apps, websites, and games, but you won't find this in the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications, and in the Preferences section, click on the button next to "Apps, Websites and games."

Turn off game and app notifications

You can turn off annoying notifications for game requests from friends, game status updates, and app notifications, but you won't find this in the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications, and in the Preferences section, click on the button next to "Game and app notifications."

Stop sending information to Instant Games you've played on Facebook or Messenger

Facebook Instant Games often harvest a lot of personal data, and they can keep on collecting it long after you've stopped playing. You can remove the game connection and prevent the developers from receiving additional information, but not through the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=instant_games, and you'll see tabs for Active games, Expired games, and Removed games. Click on "View and edit" next to a game, and you'll see all of the information that you have shared. Removing the game will sever the connection so the developer won't continue to receive data. 

Face recognition

Facebook uses face-matching technology to suggest who you should tag in photos. It also lets you know when you might appear in a photo or video but haven't yet been tagged (if you're in the audience for the original post). It will only suggest people that are on your Friends list. If you don't want to be tagged when your friends are tagging photos, toggle this option off. Facebook claims to also use face recognition to prevent strangers from using a photo of you as their profile photo. However, based on the number of cloned accounts I've seen, it doesn't seem to be working very well.

You can also turn off face recognition by going to directly to www.facebook.com/settings?tab=facerec

Your ad preferences on Facebook

Facebook will show you ads – that's how they make their money. It's just a question of whether those ads will be targeted to your demographics and interests or non-targeted (and, perhaps, less relevant to you).

Hide ads from specific brands

If you're tired of being inundated with a specific company's ads, you can choose to hide them. You won't find this in the Privacy Checkup, but you can go to www.facebook.com/adpreferences/advertisers. There you will find a list of the advertisers you have seen most recently, and you can click on the "Hide Ads" button next to any offenders.

See fewer ads about specific topics

While you can't choose to see fewer ads overall, you can choose to see fewer ads in the following categories: Alcohol, Parenting, Pets, and (clumped together) Social Issues, Elections or Politics. You won't find this in the Privacy Checkup, but you can go to www.facebook.com/adpreferences/ad_topics and check the "See Fewer" box next to any categories that don't appeal to you. If you see "Undo," it means you've already chosen to "See Fewer."

Turn off personalized ads based on your activities off Facebook

You can choose to prevent Facebook from using data from its partners to show personalized ads. You won't find the option the Privacy Checkup, but you can go to www.facebook.com/adpreferences/ad_settings and click on "Data about your activity from partners." There, you can toggle off "Use Data from Partners."

However, this won't stop the off-Facebook tracking. If you want to stop sharing your off-Facebook browsing activity with Facebook, you won't find the option in the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/off_facebook_activity and click on "Clear History." This doesn't delete the data, but it does sever the connection with your account. You'll also want to click on "More Options" beneath "Clear History" and then select "Manage Future Activity." Select "Manage Future Activity" again, and you can stop Facebook from saving your activity going forward.

Choose the profile information to share with marketers

Here, you can choose whether to share your marital status, employer, job title, and level of education with advertisers. This doesn't remove the information from your Facebook profile; it just impacts the ads you see.

You can also go directly to www.facebook.com/adpreferences/ad_settings and clicking on "Categories used to reach you." There you can toggle off any data you don't want to share.

Choose which interests to share with marketers

In addition to basic profile information, Facebook uses other information you've shared with it to serve you ads. You can remove interest categories, but you won't find the option in the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/adpreferences/ad_settings and click on "Interest Categories." Here, you can click on the "Remove" button next to any categories you don't want used to target ads to you.

Choose which advertisers can use their own audience list to target you with ads

Some companies have lists of people that they want to reach with their ads. Facebook allows companies to target ads based on these lists, or even exclude you from seeing ads (for example, the DNC may want to exclude their ads from people on the RNC list). You can choose to not be shown ads using a list, as well as not excluded from seeing ads. You can't select this option through the Privacy Checkup, but you can go to www.facebook.com/adpreferences/ad_settings and click on "Audience-based advertising." There, you will see a list of all of the companies that have you on their audience list. Click on a company, and you can find out why you were included in the advertiser's audience. Click on the arrow next to the reason and you can choose whether the company's list can be used to either include or exclude you from seeing ads.

Choose whether you are shown ads off Facebook based on your interests

Facebook serves a lot of advertising on websites and through apps off of Facebook. You can turn off personalized ads for those sites and apps, but not through the Privacy Checkup. Go to www.facebook.com/adpreferences/ad_settings and click on Ads Shown off of Facebook. There, you can toggle off personalized ads.

Choose whether your interactions with a company show up in ads

Have you ever liked or followed a company, made a comment, shared a company's Page, checked into an event held by a company, made a recommendation, or joined a Facebook event held by a company? Facebook can broadcast your action as an advertisement to all your friends.

Screenshot of sample of a social interaction ad. It shows that the person liked a Page with the image of the Page's logo beneath. Underneath, you can choose

If you don't like this type of inadvertent endorsement, you can limit who can see these social interactions alongside ads to "Only me."

You can also go directly to www.facebook.com/adpreferences/ad_settings and clicking on "Social interactions." In the popup you can select "Only me" or "Friends."

That covers your privacy setting options on Facebook. If you want to dig in even further, Facebook has a page explaining the basics of Facebook privacy tools as well as Facebook's latest data policies.

Still confused by a specific issue or question with your account? Ask below in the comments and we'll do our best to help you out.

Updated on 7/8/2021

[shocked woman with laptop via Shutterstock, all other images via Facebook]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, NBC and dozens of other TV and radio networks.



Discussion loading

Obscure comments

From Aaron on January 14, 2018 :: 1:38 am

I read through your info and its all great but here is my issue. I stumble upon some incredibly random video that I think its hilarious, or maddebing, whetever. I post a comment in the comments section. This wasntt a video in one of my friend’s timelines, it was a random video i found. Appareently all my FB friends get some kind of message telling them that I commented on said video… why? When I make a cooment to a friends timeline I understand they and my friwnds will see that comment. But I really dont want all my friends alerted to the smartass comment I make on some random and obscure video? I dont really care if they just happen upon the comment but they are clearly being alerted to it because they will like it or leave a laughing emoji or whatever and its annoying. Thank you

Reply

That's how Facebook works

From Josh Kirschner on January 30, 2018 :: 1:37 am

If you make a comment on a public video, the Facebook algorithms may decide that’s “interesting” to your friends. There’s nothing you can do to prevent that other than not making smartass comments on random videos.

Reply

Quick query.

From Jason Stanford on January 22, 2018 :: 12:30 am

Can I find a date stamp for when I changed my friends settings (regarding as to who can view my friends list) to ‘only me’ ?

Thanks in advance

Reply

No, not for settings changes

From Josh Kirschner on January 22, 2018 :: 11:59 am

You can see time stamps for activity such as liking posts, etc. but not for changes to your Facebook privacy or security settings.

Reply

about followers

From Gaurav on January 30, 2018 :: 1:32 am

hey josh…the public post window is not opening in my device. it says ‘the page you requested was not found’...

Reply

Can you clarify?

From Josh Kirschner on January 30, 2018 :: 1:42 am

Sorry, Gaurav. I’m not clear on what you’re referring to. Can you clarify what the issue is?

Reply

hiding group

From jhgd tesc on February 04, 2018 :: 5:21 pm

How do i hide the groups im in and why is it so difficult to figure it out

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Building a New Friend Community

From Kathy on February 15, 2018 :: 4:04 pm

Thanks for this blog post, John! I’ve been registered on FB for a while but have shy about posting because I’m unsure of the privacy settings and exactly who can see what. There seem to be so many hidden fields and settings.

I really want to use my FB account for attracting and connecting socially with other business-minded people. My problem is I DON’T want to connect with my real-life friends and family (I have WhatsApp for that, and that’s where I’d like them to remain) and I don’t necessarily want them reading my stuff, however, I want to attract people to connect with me who may do a search to find people with similar interests as they have.

The reason I don’t want to connect with my friends and family on FB is that although I love them, too many of them send me time-wasting conspiracy theory nonsense in Whats-App, and I don’t want them duplicate posting this to my FB page. Neither do I want them posting their cat videos and certain other things on my timeline. Sure, I know I can restrict postings, but that just opens up a whole other can of worms of hurt feelings and questions of “why did you post his stuff, but not mine?” that I’d just rather not deal with.

I want to be able to send out friend requests to people I don’t know but who share my interests and I know 99% of the time when you do this, the person is going to look at your FB profile to get a sense of the type of person you are and I don’t want a lot of ignorant stuff cluttering my timeline. I know I’ve scoped people’s timelines before and have been turned off from connecting with them because of what I’ve seen on their timelines.

I want to be able to run my business and post my ideas without judgment and commentary from nosey friends, family, church members and tenants, yet be open to connecting with people who are more aligned in their thinking as I am. Does that make sense and is it possible on FB?

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Facebook Groups is the better approach

From Josh Kirschner on February 20, 2018 :: 4:02 pm

Facebook is all about connecting with friends and family, so working outside that context gets a little tricky. The best way to do this through Facebook is to setup a Facebook Group for the your interest area and encourage like-minded people to join. Outreach will be hard if you have no friends on Facebook, though you can invite people by email address, as well as Facebook friend connections.

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Facebook ads

From Christine on February 19, 2018 :: 7:42 am

Hi since a few days ago I see that in the privacy part of FB just below the apps there is fb ad icon and when I click on it it tells me that can’t connect link isn’t working on a grey background and please try again. It won’t open. Any suggestions please. Thx

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Should be working

From Josh Kirschner on February 20, 2018 :: 3:54 pm

I’m not seeing that same issue. When I click on the Facebook Ads privacy settings, it takes me to this page: https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences/. See if that link works for you.

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Facebok Privacy How to hide myself on totly

From Rizwan on February 27, 2018 :: 5:21 am

Hi Every one,

I am Rizwan Ansar Please anyone help me how i can make my self totally visible on Facebook so that no one can see that i am using Facebook i want total hide myself on Facebook…

thank
Regards

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Not possible

From Josh Kirschner on February 27, 2018 :: 9:36 am

Certain basic Facebook profile information, such as your name, will always be public - there is no way to prevent that. But the bigger question is why you would want to use a “social network” platform and be totally invisible? If you can provide more details on why you want to be on Facebook anonymously, perhaps I can provide more helpful suggestions to accomplish what you’re looking to protect.

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Facebook posting problem

From jon spencer on February 28, 2018 :: 9:10 am

This is on a Mac running 10.11.6 and I am using Safari.
When I try to write a new message post,  the whole page grey’s out, when I attach a photo first I am able to write and post.
I can post in comments on others posts and older posts of mine, attach photos too.
I have cleared the cache, restarted the computer (twice) and the problem still continues.

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Try updating your Mac OS

From Josh Kirschner on February 28, 2018 :: 2:50 pm

This is a tricky issue to resolve without more hands-on with the issue. However, the version of Mac OS you’re running is 18 months old. In addition to opening yourself up to security risks, it’s possible there are fixes in the later version to the OS or Safari that may resolve your issue.

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The MOST important setting....

From Amanda on March 15, 2018 :: 7:49 am

What about people seeing that you are ACTIVE? I have tried to no avail to be able to use fb without anyone seeing I’m on and it never works. It still shows when I am active. Even when I close the app. Why anybody needs to know this I do not know.  Maybe there’s something I’m doing wrong or not doing, I would love to know.

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Restricted List

From Jennifer on March 20, 2018 :: 12:48 pm

I have accidentally added someone on to my restricted friend list. I have removed them OFF that list today, from my friend page and my setting page. He no longer shows up as a restricted friend on any list. HOWEVER, when I put in the VIEW AS with his name, it comes up as restricted!!! Is that because it takes time to reset? I have been trying to figure this out all day with no luck!

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Is it working today?

From Josh Kirschner on March 21, 2018 :: 9:18 am

My guess is that it was just taking time to update. How is it looking now?

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Friend's Photos to upload

From Alicia on April 07, 2018 :: 6:16 pm

Hello,
I am wanting to make a photo book for my exchange student as a gift. When I go to upload photos of him from his Facebook account from my Shutterfly, his profile is not there while many of my other friends are. He checked his settings, and they are set to public. He even changed his birthdate to be over 18 since we thought that as the problem Do you know what the problem could be?

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privacy

From anonymous on April 10, 2018 :: 3:54 pm

If someone I am not friends with changes the privacy on who can see their profile, will i still be able to see new friends?

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Friends' List Conundrum - Help!

From jsilvio on April 26, 2018 :: 2:11 am

One of my Facebook friends (A) and one of his friends (B) both have public friends’ lists. I can see all of A’s friends and all of B’s friends even though I’m only friends with A. So here’s the issue: B does NOT show up on A’s friends’ list, even though A shows up in B’s. How can that happen when both of their friends’ lists are public? It could only happen if B (who’s not my friend) had a restricted friends’ list (and even then, I’d still be able to see A as a mutual friend). Friends’ list privacy settings apply to your entire list; you can’t pick and choose who to hide from others. Can anyone help explain this? It’s tripping me out. Thanks!

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friendship line

From robert freyer on April 29, 2018 :: 10:05 am

One of my “see friendship” lines doesn’t show the latest tagged activities. And not all our tagged activities show on the “see friendship” line. It stopped about eight months ago and I still tag her and she tags me. However I suspect she has changed a setting so she in some way isn’t a friend?? I have gone to others facebooks and there I do see our tagged posts. But “see friendship” has stopped.
Also she no longer shows as in a relationship with me. Except on her phone and mine. To the other accounts she shows ” No relationship Staus to show” Has she turned her relationship status to ” Only me” ?

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A mysterious/unexplained Facebook information request.

From Andrew Pelling on May 12, 2018 :: 6:38 am

Hello. I wonder if you can please help. I keep getting: “Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur needs your review. If we don’t hear from you, the information in question will be automatically updated.” in the notifications on my Facebook Sports page. I’ve clicked on the review link and I’m tempted to use the “Reject” option, but am not sure if that’ll be a bad idea, as I have absolutely no idea what info FB wants to update and there’s no explanation. (There’s a ‘?’ but that tells me nothing) I have 11 days left to act. Please help, if you can.

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Someone suggested an edit

From Josh Kirschner on May 15, 2018 :: 10:53 am

Anyone can suggest an edit to your page information on Facebook (kinda annoying if it happens a lot). Potential options are: Name, Category, Phone, Website, Email. So those are the things you should check to see what was suggested. If you’re not sure what was suggested, it’s probably safest to hit reject.

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To keep family and friends separate, create a separate FB page?

From Jan on May 15, 2018 :: 9:13 am

I have read elsewhere and read every question here regarding keeping groups of people separate, and I can see that works if I am posting and selecting the audience before I do but I can’t control who sees if I like or respond to someone’s post from either group. Is the only solution to keeping everything separate the creation of a secondary identity from which you can invite the completely different group of friends? I think it would be confusing managing two identities and timelines. Help please?

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Yep, you can't control that

From Josh Kirschner on May 15, 2018 :: 10:58 am

As you realize, you can control who sees your Facebook posts, but not who sees your likes or comments on other people’s posts. You’re going to have to live with that, so comment accordingly. I wouldn’t create two profiles because it is a violation of Facebook’s terms, so one or both could get deleted, and would be a pain in the butt to manage and keep everything (and everyone) straight.

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Can't control facebook control!

From Jan on May 15, 2018 :: 12:35 pm

Thanks Josh, I appreciate the clear and simple answer, you can’t control your own page and connections. If we can’t control Facebook then it is controlling us and we are learning it isn’t a benign place to be. There have been too many major problems overall. I think I will mainly use messenger and keep looking for an alternative. (I have just looked and things are very promising. Might need you to look into this and unravel what’s best?)

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Photos blocked

From Karen huffman on May 16, 2018 :: 10:57 pm

I want to keep everything the same on my FB , except I want to have all my “photos”  under photos, to NOT be seen by ANYONE!
When someone, friend or public, try’s to tap on any of my photos, I want it to say, “no photos available.”!

I want the only photos anyone sees is what I post on Facebook!
But I, myself, want to be able to see them all!

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You can add them to a private album

From Josh Kirschner on May 17, 2018 :: 8:08 am

The most efficient way to do this is to create an album for those photos you want to keep private and upload the photos to this album. You can set the privacy when you create the album in the lower right corner. Or change the privacy for an existing album by editing the album and changing the privacy setting under the album’s name.

Alternatively, you can post photos as you normally do, but set the privacy for that individual post to “Only me”.

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Scheduling Post in Groups

From Angela on May 21, 2018 :: 11:56 am

I use to have the option to schedule my post in my Facebook group (I am assigned as Admin) but now that option is not available to me when creating a post in my group. Not sure what has changed, or I need to update a setting for me to get this option back?

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Do you see the little clock icon?

From Josh Kirschner on May 21, 2018 :: 1:15 pm

When you add a post to your group you should see a little clock icon next to the Post button. Do you see that? That’s how you can schedule posts for a specific time.

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Do personal page blocked people show on business pages

From Elizabeth on June 01, 2018 :: 8:52 pm

Someone has me blocked on his personal page but I think he likes both my business pages. There is one person on each who I cannot see and there are often notifications and insights that don’t match. If someone has me blocked on their personal page can I see them on my business pages if they like them?

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Yes, they would show

From Josh Kirschner on June 04, 2018 :: 11:50 pm

Business pages are completely separate from personal pages, and business page privacy is governed by the settings of the page, not the individual user. So if someone likes your business page, you would be able to see them, even if they have you blocked on your personal pages. I tested this out on our Techlicious page - blocked myself on one account but was able to see comments from that account.

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Confused

From B on June 11, 2018 :: 3:54 am

When trying to “share a post with certain friends only” why do certain fb friends not show up?? This person always did before. We are still friends and name is still in my normal friends list! I don’t understand!

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Privacy

From anca on June 13, 2018 :: 2:07 am

In order to make my Facebook settings i use PlusPrivacy app. This app configure all the privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to their most privacy-friendly values with a single click.
https://plusprivacy.com/faq/

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Privacy

From MickeyClarky on June 13, 2018 :: 3:36 am

I use ivacy vpn to hide my Ip address while I am streaming content online.

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I notice that some of

From Lisa Fleagle on June 13, 2018 :: 4:47 pm

I notice that some of my friends and family are not on my FB anymore, would you please explain why FB is controlling my FB please.

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Can you elaborate?

From Josh Kirschner on June 14, 2018 :: 8:28 am

When you say “not on my Facebook”, do you mean you don’t see them as friends or you are not seeing their posts? Or something else?

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Private Messages

From Betsy on June 14, 2018 :: 9:21 am

When someone sends you a private message on Facebook. Is there a way you can not let it show that you’ve “seen” the message?

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Sort of

From Josh Kirschner on June 14, 2018 :: 11:36 am

If you look at the message through your phone’s notification window, but don’t actually open it in Messenger, then it won’t show as “read”. Similarly, if you just view the message in your Facebook messenger notifications on desktop, it won’t show as read. But if you mark it as “read”, even in the notification are, it will show up as read for the sender.

I haven’t found any way to get around this in a more comprehensive way through settings, other than to block someone entirely.

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thanks

From pedro on June 23, 2018 :: 7:47 pm

thanks

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Friends of Friends option

From JESSICA RHODES on June 26, 2018 :: 12:31 pm

If I select “Friends of Friends"for Who can see what others post on your timeline, but exclude one person, does this also exclude the friends of the excluded person?

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Undo everything I did

From Pat on July 05, 2018 :: 8:24 am

I got a friend request from a stranger and I blocked them. I want to friend them back but it won’t let me. On messenger page I can see my messages to them but theirs to me say harassment, spam, harmful and I didn’t do that. I can’t get them back as friend or see their Facebook page. How you I undo all that’s been done and some things I didn’t do, Facebook did.  I want friend back.

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Did you unblock them?

From Josh Kirschner on July 08, 2018 :: 7:51 pm

In your Facebook Settings, under Blocking, did you unblock them?

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App posts privacy

From Cathy Williams on August 04, 2018 :: 5:43 am

Zynga shares all Farmville etc posts to all FB friends. It seems you can only go to Zynga and request that your app posts are only shared to other players. Showing the info to all FB is breach of Data Protection Regulations .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Changing the privacy settings of page “likes”

From CherylAnn on August 22, 2018 :: 9:18 pm

Thank you for this comprehensive tutorial! I have changed my privacy settings so that I have limited all old post to friends only. However, when I check my profile I see all of the Page likes I have had over the years. Is there way to change the privacy settings on those? It’s a very tedious process to go through and delete them, one by one, and the system doesn’t really allow you to delete them… Just hide them. At least as far as I can tell. Thanks for any help you can offer!

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Yes, you can change the settings all at once

From Josh Kirschner on August 23, 2018 :: 8:46 am

In your profile, click the “More” dropdown and select “Likes”. Click the little pencil icon at the top right of your Likes section and click “Edit the Privacy of Your Likes”. From there, you can change the privacy by entire categories (e.g., websites, movies, etc.), without the need to do it one by one for individual items you’ve liked.

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Profile picture privacy

From Umira Rafiq on August 26, 2018 :: 1:59 pm

Ok a huge issue i discovered today that all my past profile pictures are public, anyone can see them even all the privacy of all past pictures is set to only me or just friends 😠😠😠 i mean seriously wtf I went to “veiw as” n i could see that anyone could see my pictures past n present , profile pics that is…. How to stop this? Plz help asap

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Just got tagged and it's not me

From Gary J on August 27, 2018 :: 4:51 pm

I just received a “HIDE” or “SHOW ON TIMELINE” of a photo with someone who has the same name as me. No, I don’t wish to hide, I wish to remove, delete, get rid of, change ... since FB doesn’t share any of this information, perhaps you know?

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Just received a confirmation from a friend I didn't request

From Gary J on August 27, 2018 :: 4:53 pm

Also, totally different thing. Got a confirmation of a friend request. Didn’t send a request to that person.

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