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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

Nation in Distress

From jon on January 06, 2016 :: 6:17 pm

How do I make FB stop sending me the Nation in Distress stuff?

Reply

see more ?

From mike on January 13, 2016 :: 7:12 pm

I’ve had to “see less” of certain people (they know who they are), but I don’t understand how you ever review these settings, roll someone back to “see more”, etc ???

Also, when viewing a check-in there is an option to “I don’t like this” - well what does that mean ? does it tell FB, tell them, tell no one ? does it limit my exposure to check-ins ?

If FB would just show an explanation next to the selection, it would make it 1000 times less confusing.

I’d love to be able to not see check-ins more than 5 (10, 20, whatever) miles from where I am.  do not care where my friends in San Diego are going to lunch

Thanks

Reply

Divorced-need to limit some things

From Kathy on January 18, 2016 :: 2:38 pm

I am recently divorced.  My husband was having an affair with a friend.  My daughter is now face book friends with the girlfriend.  She has been able to keep me from seeing that the girlfriend is on her facebook friend list.  I can have another friend look at my daughters facebook page and see her and others that are hidden.  I would like to do the same.  I don’t want my daughter to see some new friends.  I know I can make lists and only post to certain likes or exclude someone, but don’t know how she was able to hide the face that they are friends.  I don’t care that she is friends with her - we are past that, but I don’t want my daughter to see any of my new relationships.  I would also like to do this to keep business and personal separate.  Do you know how my daughter was able to hide the friends?

Reply

I have divided all my

From Tony on January 21, 2016 :: 9:21 pm

I have divided all my friends into two lists, so I can choose either audience when I post on my wall (sometimes I duplicate posts for both audiences). As far as I understand, when someone comments on one of my posts that have been shown to a particular list, only people from the same list can see that comment. However, I cannot find any way to also make posts from friends on my wall to be visible only to people from the same list of the friend who wrote the post. The point is that I just want to keep both lists of friends completely separate (obviously without creating two separate profiles). The “hiding friends from profile” option is a joke, since friends are revealed whenever they comment or post - at least I’d like to hide my friends to people on the “other” list (if everybody can see posts from everybody else that’d be impossible), and the “hide to acquaintainces” option is not valid either, since that would hide all posts to these people, but I only want to hide posts from the “other” list. Thanks!

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My friends can't suggest me as a friend to others

From Kristin Tang on January 26, 2016 :: 5:31 pm

My friends can’t suggest me as a friend to others, nor can they suggest friends to me. The “Suggest friends” option are lacking in the Friends menu on my profile. Choosing “Suggest friends” on other friends’ profiles, my name doesn’t appear in the list. Is there any way to fix this?

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posting in a group

From erika on January 28, 2016 :: 10:07 am

hi, i am a member of a closed group and since it became closed i can’t post anything anymore but i can like and comment on other people’s posts. are there some privacy settings i should change and which?
thanks

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How does this work on Public posts?

From John on February 11, 2016 :: 1:53 pm

I have two friends (who are not FB friends with each other), each with Public profiles that they keep completely open, and all their posts are marked Public.

If one friend was to tag me in a post on THEIR timeline (not a picture, but an actual post where I’m tagged), will this appear on the Newsfeed of the second person? Can I prevent this? I’m a little shaky since both profiles are Public and I don’t know how that works. Thank you!

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You can prevent it, but not proactively

From Josh Kirschner on February 11, 2016 :: 5:33 pm

You will get a notification when you’re tagged in a post and you can then review the post in your Activity Log, found in your Timeline, or directly through your friend’s profile. Once you find the post, use the little dropdown icon in the top right of the post and you’ll see an option to “Remove tag”.

You can’t directly control what others are shown in their newsfeed (that’s all based on Facebook’s internal algorithms). So it is possible that Facebook MAY show the post in the other friend’s feed if you’re tagged. If you allow tagged posts to be added to your timeline, they will definitely show up in your other friend’s newsfeed. I am not as sure of the answer if you don’t allow the tagged posts to show in your timeline (also controlled through your Facebook privacy settings).

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Privacy by location

From Del Malcolm on February 13, 2016 :: 10:40 am

In the post’s privacy options I see you can pick from geographical locations in a list of places you’ve lived. But is this going to share with people who are listed as living there now, or will it include those who are ‘from’ that area and/or people who also lived there in the past?

Basically I want to withhold some chat about my history from new friends in my new town, but is okay with old friends who also lived there years ago.

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Privacy Tag related question?

From James on March 29, 2016 :: 8:36 am

Hi Josh, firstly thank you so much for you time and dedication to answering peoples questions.  My question is; I have a private conversation that I host on my wall and have selected just one person in custom audience. I want to tag that person to alert them when I add to the conversation… but I’m scared that by tagging them there is a possibility that the post will appear on there timeline and could therefore appear on their friends newsfeeds (despite having done the custom audience thing)  What do you think?

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That's a little tricky

From Josh Kirschner on March 29, 2016 :: 9:07 am

According to facebook, “When you tag someone, that content (ex: photo, post) may be shared with the person tagged and their friends. This means that if you haven’t already included their friends in the audience, their friends may now be able to see it. For example, if you tag Jane in a photo shared with your friends, the audience expands to Friends (+) to include your friends and Jane’s.”

So their friends would be able to see the conversation. To prevent this, “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.”

But it gets more complicated…Again, according to Facebook, “The audience also expands to Friends (+) when others tag your post or photo.” So even if you set it to private, it would seem your friends could undo your efforts. However, you can approve or dismiss tags that friends add to your posts before they appear on Facebook by following these steps: https://www.facebook.com/help/247746261926036

As the above suggests, Facebook is generally a bad place to hold conversations you truly want to keep private. There are just too many ways to slip up. Also, setting up a Private Group may be easier for you to manage a private conversation than doing it through your wall.

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Awesome

From James on March 29, 2016 :: 10:01 am

Thanks for confirming what I suspected, that it’s a tricky one!  it would only take one slip up or a temporary “overnight” test of a new facebook algorithm and bingo I’ve been a part of revealing personally confidential information..  the two parties involved will either not tag, move to a private group or email! I just loved the convenience of the fb approach grin  you’re a star

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Posts on friends pages

From Melissa Katherine on March 30, 2016 :: 11:00 am

Is there anyway that I can comment on pictures/posts on a friends page but so that their friends cannot see what I have put/said?

Thanks

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No

From Josh Kirschner on March 30, 2016 :: 12:26 pm

Privacy settings for a post and comments are controlled by the original poster. So any comments you add will be be visible to anyone who can see the post.

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privacy

From zubia on April 01, 2016 :: 4:22 am

there is not a privacy setting on messages. there should b this setting that no one can send messeges to us

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Public but bloked from certain friends

From Josie Summers on April 20, 2016 :: 3:19 pm

Hello i was wondering if facebook allowed you to share stuff publicly, but stop some of your friends seeing it? Is this an option?

Thanks

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No, and wouldn't be a good idea if you could.

From Josh Kirschner on April 21, 2016 :: 8:37 am

You can block certain people from seeing a post you set to “Friends” in the Custom settings, but not posts set to “Public”. And frankly, not sure why you would want to. If you’re making a post public, there’s always a chance your blocked friends will see it through some means. My advice for Facebook is anything you don’t want everyone to see, don’t post on Facebook, even just to Friends. You never know how or if something is going to leak out because you got the privacy settings wrong or because of a Facebook privacy quirk.

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Privacy glitch on Facebook

From Deborah Ann Towers-Best on May 25, 2016 :: 8:41 am

I recently shared a video with friends but customised the privacy settings so that there were certain people who could not see the video. Facebook assures you that those blocked people will never know that they are blocked. The video was shared on an entertainer page and unfortunately the link to the video shows up (even if a person is blocked). When a blocked person clicks on the link the video does not come up, but just a comment to the effect that they essentially are not allowed to see the video. So basically they do know that they are blocked. This particular instance caused a lot of problems for me at the time.

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Thanks for sharing your story

From Josh Kirschner on May 25, 2016 :: 9:10 am

Facebook is full of privacy “glitches”. For the most part, the privacy settings work as intended, but there are numerous ways things can ultimately leak out. Your story is another example for why my advice has always been to never share anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t be comfortable, in a worst case scenario, with others seeing.

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Privacy levels on Personal and Business page

From Tara Grigg-Tomsett on May 25, 2016 :: 10:02 am

Please can you let me know how I am able to have Private(friends)setting on my personal page, but have my business page set at “public”.  Thank you

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Business pages are always public

From Josh Kirschner on May 25, 2016 :: 4:58 pm

Business pages are intended to be information for the public about a business, so there is no Facebook privacy setting to make them private or just for friends. Why would you want to make your business info private? Perhaps what you are trying to do would be better handled through a Facebook Group?

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Reply

From Tara Grigg-Tomsett on June 28, 2016 :: 7:43 am

Thank you for your response, I had been on a FB forum, but they don’t seem to respond, hence me turning to a different help forum.

I totally agree my business page should be public, but it just meant my Personal page was public - I’ve sorted this out since after visiting other sites.
thank you
Tara

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Friends unable to like and comment :(

From Shaan on June 04, 2016 :: 11:20 pm

Once I used the feature of ‘view as’ on facebook to see what some of the friends can see on my profile but I came to found that some of the friends are not able to like and comment but can share. I want to change this to allow all my friends to be able to like and comment my posts.

-The posts were even shared as public and/or friends.

Need help with this asap please.
Thank You smile

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Custom post

From Henry on June 06, 2016 :: 1:20 am

I posted something that I wanted only one friend to see but I don’t want them to know they are the only one I posted to. Will they know that they are the only one that can see it. Like will they have a notification even if I didn’t tag them, etc?

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likes a status privacy

From Jen on June 06, 2016 :: 11:44 pm

How do I change the privacy so my mother can’t see when I like someone’s status or meme? She’s driving me crazy asking What’s wrong, but I don’t want to blocker her from my timeline.

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FanPage problem

From Sara on June 27, 2016 :: 3:08 pm

Post of fanpage is missing when visitor and cunsomer couldn’t see new post when they are trying to view the page

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Is there a setting to people can't see when you were oniine

From Wendy on June 28, 2016 :: 4:31 pm

I find that I dont get online at certain times because how face book shows how long ago I was online…. There are people I dont want to know how long ago when or how many min ago I was online…. I dont want to delete these people.. but I dont want them to know .... 

Is there ANYTHING that can be done?

Thank you so much for your time!!

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The short answer is NO

From Josh Kirschner on June 29, 2016 :: 10:49 am

Unfortunately, there appears to be no way to hide your last active time on Facebook. I researched some of the suggested solutions online and none of them work. Uninstalling Facebook Messenger isn’t the answer because I don’t have Facebook Messenger installed on my device yet my last active time is still displayed. Turning off what information apps can use doesn’t work, because my settings already have last active time unchecked (so apparently only applies to third party apps). And I would stay away from any browser plugins promoted for this purpose because I can’t imagine how they would make a difference and there’s a chance they may be creating their own privacy issues.

This is one of those cases where giving up another component of your privacy is the price you pay for being on Facebook. If you do find a solution, let me know.

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Facebook Times

From Andy Prakken on July 24, 2016 :: 7:27 pm

Josh, Facebook Messenger has nothing to do Facebook itself. You have to login to Messenger from Facebook at the bottom right hand side by clicking onto the square with the pencil Icon. I don’t think Messenger has to be installed on Facebook but I could be in Error. Just commenting on this. Andy.

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You're correct

From Josh Kirschner on July 25, 2016 :: 10:57 am

Messenger doesn’t have to be installed to use Facebook, it is a separate app. I was commenting on some of the common “solutions” I found elsewhere which propose removing Facebook Messenger to fix this issue - it doesn’t work.

Best,
Josh

posting on my page

From Victor on June 29, 2016 :: 11:32 am

I restrict some people from seeing some of my post, but some I post for all friends. The people who I occasionally restrict aren’t able to post anything to my wall (ie happy birthday, comment on my public posts). How can I allow them to make comments on my page for the posts I allow them to see?

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Guide Dates

From Andy Prakken on July 22, 2016 :: 3:23 pm

Why is it that this Complete Guide is Dated July 22nd, 2016 and the first comment is Dated April 05, 2015? Just Enquiring.

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We update the guide periodically

From Josh Kirschner on July 25, 2016 :: 11:08 am

That’s a fair question. Rather than creating a new guide every time Facebook updates its policies, we update the existing guide and add the update date to the bottom. So you can see that this guide was updated on 7/22/16.

We don’t delete the old comments because often the questions asked and answered are still the same common issues people are facing with current versions of Facebook.

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Guide / Newsletter Date

From Andy Prakken on July 25, 2016 :: 2:54 pm

Seems like a fair reply. However, the update date is also shown at the heading of this newsletter, not just the bottom.

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Yes, we have to do it that way

From Josh Kirschner on July 25, 2016 :: 3:18 pm

The date you see at the top of articles (the “published” date) is used by the system to order articles on the homepage and various list pages; articles are listed chronologically, newest first. When we refresh an article, we update the published date so the refreshed article shows up again on the homepage and elsewhere. We add the “updated xx/xx/xxx” comment make it clear that this is an updated article and help explain why comments may be older than the update date.

BTW, we generally only change the published date when there is a major refresh of the article. If we’re just going in to make minor corrections or notes, we leave the published date alone and will put an update date next to the specific note or change.

Hope that helps clarify.

Groups and comments

From Shawn on July 25, 2016 :: 2:03 pm

Is there a way to have separate groups of friends not see one another’s comments on a facebook post that you make? For instance I posted a photo and i’d like both groups to be able to make comments if they’d like but not see each the other groups comments?

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Can I have timeline posts be seen but not replied to?

From ERIC on July 30, 2016 :: 1:34 pm

Is there a way to post something to my timeline so my friends can see it but without allowing them to respond or add comments to it?

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Unfortunately, no

From Josh Kirschner on August 09, 2016 :: 5:17 pm

Facebook doesn’t allow you to turn off comments for a single post.

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Public groups

From Georgia on August 07, 2016 :: 3:14 am

Hi I have my profile as private as i can possibly get it, except people can still see some of the groups I am in under public groups.
This wouldn’t usually be an issue but they seem to be the ones that are local so therefore giving out my location to anyone who clicks on my profile whether they are friends or complete strangers.
Is there any possible way to change this to private without having to leave said Groups?

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You can hide your public groups

From Josh Kirschner on August 09, 2016 :: 5:29 pm

You can hide public Groups from your Facebook profile by going to the Groups section and hitting the edit button in the upper right corner of the Group you want to hide.

Note that while this will hide the Group in your profile, if someone goes directly to that Group and looks up members, they will still be able to see that you are a member.

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removing group from my profile

From Kimm Schumacher on August 09, 2016 :: 11:17 pm

Hi, I’ve gone to the upper right hand corner on the group I want to hide on my profile page and it only gives me options of Edit notification, leave group or add to favorites.  HELP

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Go in through your profile page

From Josh Kirschner on August 10, 2016 :: 10:19 am

You need to go to Groups through your profile page. Follow these steps:
1) Go to your profile page
2) Click the More dropdown at the top and select Groups
3) You will now see your Public groups. From here you can change the privacy setting.

groups

From Victor on August 10, 2016 :: 10:43 am

I have my friends group and a professional group that I set up. The professional group are not able to comment on my wall. Is there any way to change this?

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Groups

From Kimm Schumacher on August 11, 2016 :: 2:25 am

Hi,  I see my public groups listed under my profile page but I don’t see how to edit private groups…. I don’t want my friends who are also in the group notified every time I make a post. HELP

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Group notifications are controlled your friends

From Josh Kirschner on August 22, 2016 :: 3:50 pm

You can’t control what others in the group see. They manage that themselves through the group notifications settings. So if they’re seeing too many group notifications, they can set it to see fewer.

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Commenting on Shared

From Ala Issa on August 20, 2016 :: 3:34 am

When I am commenting on a ‘shared’ post, I want my comment only seen by my Facebook friend who shared the item. How can I do it?

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You can't

From Josh Kirschner on August 22, 2016 :: 3:51 pm

When commenting on a shared post, the privacy settings for the post are controlled by the poster, not you. So anyone else who can see the post will also be able to see your comments.

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Photo tagging privacy settings

From Ann on August 21, 2016 :: 10:45 pm

I have my photo tagging setting to “only me” ... Inevitably friends tag and post photos of me and I don’t like everyone on my Facebook seeing them. However, there are times I feel rude not clicking “like” to some of these photos…. But if I click ” like” won’t that automatically show up in news feeds of all my friends?...and then they see the photos anyway?

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They "might" show up

From Josh Kirschner on August 22, 2016 :: 3:54 pm

Facebook’s algorithms control what ends up in the news feeds of your friends. So if you Like a photo, and that photo’s privacy setting would make it viewable by your friends, then yes it might show up. But only a small percentage of what gets posted actually ends up in your feed, so it’s quite likely your friends won’t see it, even if you Like it.

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Photo tagging privacy

From Ann on August 21, 2016 :: 11:02 pm

I have my photo tagging privacy setting set to ” only me” because I don’t like to have all of my Facebook friends seeing what some friends inevitably tag me in. However, there are times I feel I as if I am being rude if I don’t click ” like” to those pictures in which get posted from time to time. My question is, if do click like, won’t that photo then show up in all of the news feeds of all my friends on Facebook anyway?

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