Privacy on Facebook
A few settings changes is all that is required to protect your most personal information. However, even if you follow the steps in this guide, what you post on Facebook is public - including what you post in a secret group.
This resource will not cover every privacy setting available, so do some research on your own to ensure you are comfortable with your settings. Here's a good start: https://www.facebook.com/help/325807937506242/
What can others see?
From a computer or through the desktop version of Facebook, go to your profile page. This is where you can see everything you have posted.
Click on the "..." on the right hand side. And then click "View As..."
Notice the bar that appeared at the top. You can change this to view your profile as public, or as a specific person. Leave it as public for this exercise. Now scroll down and look at everything. Are you comfortable with the amount of info available? If you are, great. There are additional tips and tricks in sections below. If you're not comfortable with the amount of public content, now is the time to change it.
To get to privacy settings, at the top, click on the arrow next to the ? on the far right and select Settings. There are several ways to get to privacy settings and a few places where there are privacy shortcuts. Feel free to explore and find those. This guide will walk you through one way to get there.
Click on Security
These settings focus more on account access than privacy but they are no less important. I suggest you look through these options and make choices you are comfortable with.
Click on Privacy
- Who can see my stuff? This is where you set the default privacy setting for future posts. Clicking on Limit Past Posts will allow you to update privacy settings for everything you have ever posted (to your own timeline) with just a couple of clicks. You cannot undo this action and you will be warned. I recommend doing this if you have a lot of public posts in the past that you would like to update.
- Who can contact me? This allows others to send you friend requests. Options are everyone or friends of friends.
- Who can look me up? This informs Facebook on how you want to allow others to find you. You signed up for a Facebook account with an email address. My settings allow friends of friends to find my profile if they know my email address. I'm more restrictive with my phone number and allow only my friends to look my up by my phone number. And I strongly recommend setting the web search engine value to No.
Click on Timeline and Tagging Settings
- Who can add things to my Timeline? I allow friends to add things to my timeline and tag me in posts. Based on the settings of their post, others can see me tagged but I require tags to be reviewed before they appear on my Timeline. This setting and the next one, if set properly, can avoid embarrassing or offensive posts from being shared to your friends without your permission.
- Who can see things on my Timeline? Remember if Sally tags you in a post with a privacy setting of friends, Sally and her friends will see the post and that you are tagged. This setting allows you to restrict what others see on your timeline.
- How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions? Just like adding posts to my timeline, I require tags to be reviewed before they appear on photos. I also limit the audience expansion feature Facebook provides. For example, if I am only friends with Sally and she tags me, if I allow the tag, my friends are not added to the audience of that photo. I also do not allow the Facebook algorithms to suggest that I am tagged in a photo based on facial recognition.
Click on Public Post Filters and Tools
- Who can follow me? I only allow friends to follow my posts, so even if I post something publicly, one would have to go to my profile page to see what I have posted.
- Public Post Comments: I allow anyone to comment on public posts, you may choose a more restrictive setting. You also have the ability to remove inappropriate comments on your posts regardless of this setting.
- Public Profile Info: Profile photos and a handful of other profile info is always public. This setting restricts comments allowed on that information.
- Username: This is where you can set a readable username. I highly recommend.
- Twitter: You can link a twitter account here.
Click on Facebook Ads
Short explanation, ad tracking is just as much a invasion of your privacy as someone seeing your posting.
A few more settings located around Facebook, unfortunately they are not available under settings... go back to your profile home screen.
Friends List Privacy
Click on Friends and then click the pen on the right. Select Edit Privacy.
A pop-up appears that allows you to select friend list privacy settings.
Timeline Sections Privacy
And to hide the groups you belong to, even public groups, on the profile home screen, click on More and then Manage Sections. A pop up will appear with Timeline sections. Recommend unchecking everything you are allowed to uncheck, especially Likes and Groups.
So this one is a little convoluted from a PC... navigate to your About page from your profile home screen. I'll show you an example for Work Place, use the same trick for each item.
You can hunt all over for the edit button, you wont find it. That is until you take the mouse and hover over the far right blank space and a privacy setting magically appears! Eye roll please.
It's there, didn't you see it?! Ok, now that you've found where the hide the good stuff, click on the icon just left of options to set the permissions. The padlock means this item is only visible to me. Be sure to go through each item in About to set appropriate permissions. Go back to the top and view your profile as someone from the public to make sure you have set all About items the way you want them set.
Facebook Tips & Tricks
Sharing content to a group requires an understanding of the privacy setting of the original content. For example, below you see a post that might show up in your feed and you say, hey, I think the group would like to see this. You click share and send it to the group. In this case it works great because of a tiny little icon of a globe just under and to the right of the original poster (or OP).
If there is another symbol, instead of a globe, sharing that post to a group is still possible, but you'll have a problem you won't be able to see. Other symbols include a gear, one person or two people in a frame. They have different meanings in terms of permissions.
- Globe - public - share away
- One person - OP shared this with friends, so even if you share this with others, only friends of the OP will be able to see the shared content
- Two people - OP shared this with friends of friends, so again only friends of friends will be able to see the shared content
- One grey person and one darker person - similar to friends but OP used categories
- Gear - OP created a custom share setting
Because you are friends or friends of friends with the OP, when you share it to a group, the post looks fine. Unfortunately, or unless all members of the group are also friends or friends of friends with the OP, the post you shared will look like this: