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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 :: 431 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 whether friends of people tagged in your posts can see your posts

If you tag a Facebook Friend in a post, the person you tagged's Facebook Friends may also be able to view your post. You can choose to prevent Friends of people tagged in your posts from seeing your posts.

You can choose whether friends of people tagged in your posts can see your posts 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

Privacy

From Anonymous on April 05, 2015 :: 3:05 am

Very useful guide, especially the part about App Privacy. Thanks for pointing that out.

Reply

privacy settings

From Anne Daft on February 14, 2017 :: 1:59 pm

I post a lot to help market shelter and rescue dogs.  I always want them to be public.  I have checked the settings multiple times and I have everything chosen as public.  However, about 50% of the posts only show up to me or a few of my friends,  If I go to the “Who can see my stuff”, it says public, but when I to the section that provides a “view of what people see when they look at my timeline”.....half of the posts do not show up.  I see them, but 90% of my friends or public do NOT. Reminder:  I have my privacy settings set to allow Public….all. It’s very frustrating and I have checked the settings a dozen times. Can anyone help me figure out what I’m doing wrong??  Thanks.

Reply

Check your individual post settings

From Josh Kirschner on February 14, 2017 :: 6:55 pm

If you’re not seeing the posts in your public view of your timeline, make double sure that the individual posts are set to “Public”. However, even if everything is set to Public, Facebook won’t show all of you posts, even to your friends. The Facebook algorithms only show a subset of your posts based on how “interesting” it thinks they are likely to be. The more people have interacted with your posts in the past, and the more engagement a post gets, the more likely is to get shown.

Reply

Comments

From Derek on March 06, 2019 :: 11:39 am

What’s the point of posting or not posting if the people you were intending on seeing it, may or may not see it, depending on who Facebook decides can see what you posted?

Cannot load photos

From Peter A on May 20, 2021 :: 11:57 am

I am registered on facebook, as some things that I was interested in could only be seen this way. But I don’t bother with friends or followers. But I have recently joined a group, and although I have managed to post to it, when I try to load some relevant photos ( of some stones ), it doesn’t work. I get a message ” The privacy settings for this post prevent you from sharing it on your timeline “. My whatever-you-call-it is set to public. Am I not going to be allowed to post ? ( and what is a ‘timeline ? ), please

Who can contact me?

From Masum Billah on February 28, 2017 :: 5:36 pm

Hello! My name is masum billah and I am Bangladeshi . If you help me I will be grateful to you. My problem is. How do I stop frind request?  Thank you.

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Too late

From Tom on April 02, 2018 :: 6:30 pm

Thank you for the comprehensive security guide. Unfortunately, it is too late for me since deactivated my FB acct over a week age with expexctations of my acct being terminated by FB after two weeks. After much deliberation I decided to stop using FB due to so many fake news stories,  negative over argumentative name calling trolls who could not have an adult conversation without abrasive ad hominem names and labels. Then the breach deliberate/apathetic breach was allowed to happen being the last straw. I choose to be unplugged because FB was becoming too stressful and no longer fun.

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Private posts to friend

From Johnson Harvey on November 11, 2019 :: 10:07 pm

post on a friend and make it private that only he can see it.

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Privacy

From Cameron Collins on August 13, 2020 :: 1:00 pm

When you comment on a post of another, how do you make your profile private so those that are not your friends cannot go to troll your page? I am tired of not being able to make my profile private from people who are not my friends.

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Profile information is always public

From Josh Kirschner on August 14, 2020 :: 1:26 am

Profile information is always public, by design. Otherwise, there would be no way to find your friends to friend them. But you can control who can post to your timeline, and you can block people on an individual basis to hide your profile from them entirely.

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Thanking you and

From Sharon on June 07, 2015 :: 12:38 pm

Thank you for this information.  Do you really answer questions, please?

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Yes

From Josh Kirschner on June 08, 2015 :: 10:19 am

Yes, we do. grin

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sharing posts

From David Coleman on August 24, 2015 :: 8:10 pm

I posted something to someones business page, but others don’t seem to be able to share it. How do I change that?

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settings for posting on friends timeline

From Cindy paine on June 08, 2017 :: 9:37 am

I tried to post on friends timeline who asked me to and I got blocked on that and others. What settings should I have to post on friends and they can share it?

Answers

From Derek on March 06, 2019 :: 11:43 am

Then answer them!!!!!!!!

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Quick question

From Courtney on June 15, 2015 :: 2:46 am

Do you know how I can stop my friends from seeing my posts to business pages in their own news feeds?

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Don't believe you can

From Josh Kirschner on June 18, 2015 :: 11:06 am

Since you don’t control the privacy settings on business pages you don’t control, you can’t limit whether Facebook chooses to show those posts to your friends. However, if your friends use the dropdown in the news feed posts to “Hide all from [name of business page]”, that should stop them from seeing it in the future.

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Activity log

From Debra perry on November 22, 2017 :: 9:04 am

Hi Josh
Sorry to bother you. I’m new to Facebook. On my activity log where a friend has waved to me ...underneath in light grey print it has the setting sign and says hidden from timeline, I have never hidden this friend and am happy to let him see my stuff. Does it mean I’m hidden from his timeline

Thankyou

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In your timeline settings

From Josh Kirschner on November 25, 2017 :: 1:17 pm

Hi Debra,

In your Timeline and Tagging Settings on Facebook, there is an option to review posts you’re tagged in before they appear in your Timeline. If you have that on (and you probably should to control what appears), you’ll need to review and manually approve before it shows up.

Best,
Josh

whose settings?

From s. on June 17, 2015 :: 11:59 pm

Recently someone saw a status I posted, even though I did not include them in the list of people I wanted to be able to see the post. He saw it because he is friends with one of the approved people who commented on my post, and it showed up as “[name] commented on a post” in the unapproved person’s feed. Is there a way to ensure that other people’s comments on my posts are treated with MY privacy settings, and not the commenters’ settings? Thanks!

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Are you sure you didn't tag it with 'Friends of friends"

From Josh Kirschner on June 18, 2015 :: 11:09 am

WHat privacy setting did you use for the post? Are you sure it wasn’t set for “Friends of friends” or “Public”?

Also, if you tagged someone in a post, they will be able to see it, even if they are not included in the privacy settings.

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Who can see my response?

From Jeani on December 29, 2016 :: 3:45 pm

My friends can see when I respond to someone else’s post, even when they are not friends with each other. Like “[name] commented on a post” from previous post. I have noticed that some of my friends can even comment on another (not mutual) friend’s post after I have commented. Can I stop that?

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Depends on privacy settings of post

From Josh Kirschner on December 29, 2016 :: 4:56 pm

If the person who made the post set the privacy to Public or Friends of Friends, then your friends may get a notification when you comment on it. And no, you can’t stop that from happening.

I had the same issue

From up on January 12, 2019 :: 9:11 am

I posted some pics of my child and tagged the people who were with us when the pics were taken (this was a year ago).  Just yesterday I see a person I don’t know “Liking” all my kid’s photos.  This freaked me out.  I went to the post & noticed I had indeed used a custom setting “Friends” and had unchecked the box allowing friends of those tagged from viewing before posting.  What went wrong here? I’m really freaking out, some of my friends & family use the same FB page for business & pleasure meaning they, themselves don’t know who is viewing their posts or posts they are tagged in.  HELP.

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Extremely Helpful

From John Bother on June 18, 2015 :: 7:17 am

I have tried many of the site for this information but after lots of searching i was still not able to collect the comprehensive help on this problem. Your page did it very amazingly and the information here was stunning. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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Privacy Loophole?

From Ben on July 06, 2015 :: 8:42 pm

When posting pictures, if I without the privacy to a select group of friends, yet select it as viewable to friends of those tagged, and some of those on my restricted list are friends of those tagged, will those people be able to see the pictures?

Thanks!

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I'm not sure I fully understand your question, but think "yes"

From Josh Kirschner on July 10, 2015 :: 1:39 pm

If I understand correctly what you’re asking, you want to post a photo that is set to only be seen by a specific group of friends. But, if you tag your friends, will their friends be able to see the photo, too?

The answer is “yes”. If you tag someone in a photo then their friends will be able to see that photo.

According to Facebook, if you don’t want your photo, post or other content to be visible to the friends of the person tagged, you can turn this setting off for each post when you post it. To do this, click the audience selector next to the story, select Custom, and uncheck the Friends of those tagged box.

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Reply

From Ben on July 10, 2015 :: 4:32 pm

Thanks for your response—I understand that, but let’s say some of the friends of those you tag in your picture are on your limited profile view.  Will those people still be able to view the picture even if you restrict them, because you set the photo visible to friends of those tagged and they are a friend of a tag?

Thanks!

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Friend suggestions and phone contacts

From Ray on July 09, 2015 :: 10:22 pm

I know Facebook is using my contacts email addresses and phone numbers to suggest friends despite having set every privacy setting possible. I’ve explicitly removed contacts and set it not to import them. The proof came today when I added a coworkers cell and personal email and then called and emailed them. Then lo and behold, they appeared as a suggested friend.

Any suggestions?

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Check this setting in the Facebook app

From Josh Kirschner on July 10, 2015 :: 1:34 pm

In the Facebook app on your phone, there is a setting called “Continuous Contacts Uploads”. See if that is set to Off. Otherwise Facebook will continuously upload your address book and suggest them as Facebook friends.

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no privacy in fb

From George on April 02, 2016 :: 6:09 pm

hi
my continue contact upload is off but again i see unwanted contacts in suggest friends in my fb account. plz help me thanx

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I want to turn off

From faith mcleod on January 29, 2017 :: 11:24 am

I want to turn off the time ive been away from facebook/messanger I dont want anyone knowing that im actually on facebook/messanger how do I do this?

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Suggested Friends

From Ivy on July 27, 2015 :: 1:17 pm

Your guide has been tremendously helpful, thank you for putting it together and making it public.

My question relates to the one from Ray. Is there a privacy setting I can select to prevent me from appearing as a ‘suggested friend’ in non-friend’s feed? This is particularly frustrating as I try to keep my FB account siloed and personal from my professional contacts.

Thanks!

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Unfortunately, no.

From Josh Kirschner on July 30, 2015 :: 10:12 am

Facebook doesn’t give you the ability to stop your name from appearing in “suggested friends” lists. The best you can do is limit who can send you friend requests to “friends of friends” in your privacy settings (far from ideal, I know).

That said, as long as you keep your privacy settings as “friends” for all your posts, no one will be able to see anything on your timeline unless you have friended them.

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keeping things separate

From mark on July 30, 2015 :: 3:33 am

I have a friend who is adopted.

He knows his birth siblings and birth mother and is friends with them on facebook.  His adoptive parents want to join facebook but are relying upon my friend (and I) to get them on as they aren’t very tech savvy.  The problem is that the adoptive parents know the names of the members of the birth family. 

We’re trying to figure out how to shield the birth family from the adoptive family because if the adoptive family finds out they will be crushed and their relationship with my friend will be destroyed. 

I’ve gone through everything and just can’t find out how to do the above.  My friend keeps saying, “There’s got to be a way,” and I keep responding, “I don’t think so.” 

What do you say?

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Nearly impossible to do completely

From Josh Kirschner on July 30, 2015 :: 10:21 am

There are so many ways that someone can stumble on a connection through Facebook - from viewing friends list, to seeing suggested friends, to seeing items other have posted in your timeline, or photos where you’ve been tagged - that trying to maintain two separate groups of friends who never cross will be nearly impossible.

That said, I’m surprised that this is as big an issue an issue as your friend thinks it is. It’s perfectly natural for someone who is adopted to want to know more about their birth families. He’s obviously been friends with his birth family for some time and that hasn’t impacted his relationship with his adoptive parents. They raised him and, presumably, he loves them as though they were his natural parents. I didn’t love my first child less, when I had my second and third kids.

This sounds like a situation where the solution may lie in open communication, not technology.

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Thanks for getting back, Josh!

From Mark on September 08, 2015 :: 1:32 am

Thanks for getting back, Josh!  I actually agree with you - alas technology can’t solve everything.

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Ads

From Stuart B on August 03, 2015 :: 5:04 am

Recently, but only on my mobile devices, I’ve been bombarded by “suggested apps/pages/posts” I see nearly as many of these as I do friends posts. My family and friends aren’t having this problem - just me! I’ve tried reporting as spam/harassment etc to FB but they still keeps showing.

I’ve followed your steps and deleted all of my “liked” pages, time will tell if this works.

Any help or ideas would be most welcome.

Regards

Stuart

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I get the same thing.

From Josh Kirschner on August 03, 2015 :: 12:40 pm

Yep, lots of suggested whatever ads on mobile (but not nearly as many online, oddly). You’re already taking the right steps to delete your liked pages and interests, because that’s what many advertisers use to target their messages, but there’s no way to eliminate it completely. You could try setting your birth year to the 1800s in your profile, so you won’t be picked up by any advertisers targeting by age (except those promoting products for centenarians).

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Prevent tag removal

From Nathan Airchime on August 04, 2015 :: 7:04 am

How do I prevent a friend from removing my tag of him from my post? His girlfriend keeps removing my tags of him. I want to prevent anyone from removing my tags of them from my posts. How do I do this?

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You can't

From Josh Kirschner on August 04, 2015 :: 8:09 am

You have control over where you are tagged on Facebook to help protect your privacy. Others can’t force you to be tagged if you don’t want to be.

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Liking posts is causing problems.

From Porshe on August 04, 2015 :: 1:19 pm

Lately I’ve noticed that things other people have pressed like on has been popping up on my FB. And the things I press like on have been popping up on my friends and families facebook, is there any way to restrict that? I will sometimes thumns up things that I wouldn’t want my friends and family to see, like political views Ect. Please help!

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Welcome to Facebook.

From Josh Kirschner on August 04, 2015 :: 3:33 pm

You actually can edit the privacy settings for your likes, but not through your Privacy Settings (because that would be too obvious).

Instead, go to your Timeline and scroll down to where your likes are (or, using the menu at the top of your Timeline, click More and then Likes). You’ll see a little edit button in the top right corner - click that and select Edit Privacy. From there, you can edit the privacy settings for each category of your Likes, but not for individual likes. And, since you don’t know what category Facebook is assigning to a particular page, you can’t be sure which privacy settings will apply to it.

Therefore, if there are things you would rather others not see, it’s safest just not to Like them.

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Editing Privacy of Your LIkes

From Maria on April 02, 2017 :: 8:21 pm

Hi, I wanted to set up a custom setting under “Edit Privacy of Likes”. When I select to set up the Custom setting I see the note “Anyone tagged will be able to see this post”... does that mean when I like a page it will tag those people or ONLY the people that I add to this custom setting will see this on their timeline AS WELL as anyone I chose to tag? Thank you!

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Let me amend that...

From Josh Kirschner on August 04, 2015 :: 3:38 pm

What I described is how to set privacy settings for pages you Like. For posts you Like, that’s a different story. Those privacy settings are determined by the poster, not the Liker. So if you have mutual friends or the post is set to Public, others you know could see your Like, too. There is no way to prevent this other than not Liking.

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Privacy when somene posts on my wall

From Sonia on August 04, 2015 :: 7:22 pm

Hi, iI have set the option to REVIEW when others post on my timeline or tag me in photod, and it generaly works, the problem was that today a friend shared on my wall an old post that Facebook told her was from a year ago that we shared together and I WAS NOT GIVEN THE OPTION TO REVIEW this post… Since it is already on my wall for all my friends to see I cannot simply hide it, or else she might feel hurt.

I would simply like to change THIS particulary Post so that ONLY SHE and I can see it on my wall, but to hide it from everyone else, the same way I can to when I publish my own posts.

Any ideas?

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You can't for individual posts from others on your timeline

From Josh Kirschner on August 05, 2015 :: 10:07 am

You can’t change the privacy settings for individual posts from others - it’s either on your timeline or not and uses your timeline privacy settings. But if you don’t want others to see it, hide it from your timeline. She didn’t ask you before she posted it, you don’t need to feel bad for removing it.

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Customized posts to FB

From Ctrem on August 07, 2015 :: 6:16 pm

If you had previous posts using custom settings, but then removed the customization for your most recent post, can those people (whom you had previously not allowed to see those customized posts) now see your old posts?

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Limited Posting

From Michael Pelletier on August 12, 2015 :: 12:45 pm

HI
Your article touches on limited posting seemingly for the general public but I have used it for specific people in the past and I can not find it now to remove it .

I started recently using the new restricted or public option and one of the people who I have put on this older limited viewing of posts are not seeing my public posts in their feed but only in their notifications , it would be nice if I could reverse that old setting so I could manage with the restricted or public option

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How To Hide Family Members in "about"

From Frank R Gabelman on August 12, 2015 :: 6:03 pm

I can’t seem to find how to hide my family members in the “about” section on Facebook. There seems to be people out there that will contact family members as retaliation for disagreeing in a comment section on the web. Thanks.

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You can change privacy for individual relationships

From Josh Kirschner on August 12, 2015 :: 7:06 pm

You can’t change your privacy settings for Family & Relationships as a whole, but you can change it for individual relationships. Go to the Family & Relationships section of your profile. Highlight a specific relationship with your mouse, ad you’ll see an edit button appear in the upper right corner. Click on that and you can save the privacy settings for that relationship.

FWIW, I’ve never heard of someone contacting family members in retaliation for comments on the web, but if that’s a concern for you, that’s how you fix it.

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RE: You can change privacy for individual relationships

From Frank R Gabelman on August 21, 2015 :: 6:27 pm

Thanks, Josh! I really appreciate you getting back with me. Your advice certainly did the trick.

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