Ah, Facebook. Even if you hate it, you are probably using it. It is, after all, the fastest and easiest way to keep in touch with friends and family these days. You can find the latest photos of your grandkids (my personal favorite thing to do!), laugh at various memes, read the hottest gossip or news and keep up with everyone’s political rantings. (Please note the sarcasm intended for that last bit!)
I am a pretty public person due to the type of work I do, but most of you are not. You have photos and information you just do not want the world to see, right? It only takes a couple of clicks to be able to set your Facebook profile to a level of privacy that you are comfortable with. The ways to change privacy settings are very different between a phone/tablet and desktop/laptop. I am going to walk you through both types so that you are able to easily follow along, no matter what you use to play around on Facebook.
Make your profile and cover photo secure
In order to allow only your friends to see your profile photo, head to your profile and click or tap on your current profile photo to open it. Once you have it open, change the privacy/share setting to “Friends Only.” This way, your profile photo will NOT show to anyone who you are not friends with. Additionally, you could choose to use a generic photo… one that is not of your face, such as flowers, feet in sand on vacation, a sunset or anything you choose.
With cover photos, sadly, whatever the current cover photo is will ALWAYS be public. Again, you can use a generic one, such as a nature shot, a cartoon or a favorite quote.
How to Adjust Privacy Settings via a Desktop Computer or Laptop
Let’s take a look at some of the privacy settings you can easily adjust on Facebook to make you comfortable with what you are sharing – and who you are sharing it with.
- Click on the little downward – pointing triangle at the top right of your screen.
- Choose “Settings” towards the bottom of the drop-down list.
- From the menu on the left, choose “Privacy.”
- On this screen, you will see several options. You can decide here who is allowed to see all of your future posts (everyone, friends, or only you). Keep in mind that if you set this to “Friends Only,” you can still share something important publicly if you choose in the future. Just change that setting in the post you are writing.
- You’ll also see that there is a setting to “Limit Your Past Posts.” This is useful if for some reason you have made several public posts in the past and no longer wish them to be public. Just click on the right side where it says “Limit Past Posts” and change the setting to whatever you choose.
How People Find and Contact You
This next section deals with choosing whether or not people can easily find your Facebook profile. Let’s go through each of the options listed here:
- Who can send you friend requests? If you click the “Edit” button to the right, a little drop-down box will open. You can choose whether to allow “Everyone” to send you a friend request (this means anyone in the world can send the request – remember, though: you don’t have to accept it just because they request you!) or only allow “Friends of Friends” to send the requests.
- Who can see your friends list? Many people do not like for others to see who they are friends with, while some of us don’t really mind. If you would like, click that “Edit” button and choose “Edit” again and make your choice in the drop-down. If you do not want anyone to see your friends list other than yourself, choose that “Just Me” option. Once you do this, no one can see your complete friends list. Keep in mind that people who look up your profile will be able to see people who you have in common as friends already, though. They will not be able to see anyone else you are friends with.
- Who can look you up using the email address you provided? If you are okay with people who know your email address (whichever one you signed up for FB with) being able to find your Facebook profile using that email, then go ahead and leave it set to “Everyone.” Perhaps an old high school or college buddy or work colleague may want to send you a request. Leaving this set to Everyone will let them find you. If you would rather they cannot, choose from “Friends or “Friends of Friends.” These same principles apply to the next option which is Who can look you up using your phone number?
- Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile? This is a fairly important setting. Even though I am a pretty public person, I do not want Google or Bing (or anyone else) linking to my FB profile on search results. This means that if someone were to decide to Google me, my FB profile does not show up in the results. If you choose to not allow this, simply change the answer to “NO” – it is set to allow it by default.
Timeline and Tagging Settings
This section is pretty important and deals with what people are allowed to do regarding you, your information and your photos. Let’s dive right in by clicking on “Timeline and Tagging” over on the left menu. I’m not going to go through every single setting on this page, because most of them are self-explanatory. However, I will go over a few of the more important ones found here.
Who can post on your timeline? This lets you decide whether your friends are able to post something on your timelines or if only you are able to. Most people obviously want to have their friends post messages to them, but not everyone. If you want to be the only one posting on your timeline, choose the “Edit” button on the right and click “Only Me” from the little drop-down menu.
- Hide comments containing certain words from your timeline. This is a pretty cool feature. If, for instance, you do not want to have curse words showing up in comments people leave for you, you can add them here. Once you hit that Edit button, a little box will pop up that allows you to choose which words or phrases you’ll no longer see when a friend types them. The friend who posted the comment WILL still see whatever they typed (example: the F-bomb), but YOU will not.
- Reviewing Tags I LOVE this section. This is probably my favorite private setting of all. I definitely do not want any photos others try to post of me to show up on my timeline without my permission, and sometimes I don’t want posts a friend or family member makes and tags me in randomly to show up. This section lets me have the control to say yes or no to these things. If you want to decide on a case-by-case basis (like me) which photos and posts you are tagged in show up on your timeline, click that “Edit” button on the right, and then click “Enable” option in the drop-down menu. Keep in mind that this means whatever they tagged you in will not show up on YOUR timeline… but it will still show up on theirs.
How to Control Who Sees Your Personal Information on Your Profile
This is a bit different and covers things such as places you have worked, where you went to school and who you are in a relationship with. In order to get to where you need to change these settings, click back onto your profile. Over on the left where you see that type of information listed, hover your mouse anywhere in the box and you will see a little pencil icon show up at the top-right corner of the box. Click on that pencil. This will open up a little pop-up box called “Customize Your Intro.” Click on any of the little pencils to the right of any of the options and this page will open:
I know – that’s a great photo of me. I paid a lot of money to look that good for my daughter’s wedding, which is why I chose not to blur my photo for this screenshot. ANYWAY! Moving right along!
On this page, you can decide who sees the information shown here as I mentioned. Just hover your mouse near one of the sections on the right and you’ll be able to click “Options” on the right. Choose “Edit” and then decide who – if anyone other than yourself – you would like to allow to see each section. You can make any or all of them private or public – or only shown to your friends. This is completely up to you and your comfort level. Additionally, you can change any relevant dates for these pieces of info or delete them completely if you would like.
This ends my tutorial on changing various privacy settings on Facebook via your desktop or laptop. Since there is so much information, I am going to do a completely separate post on how to change these settings – and more – on a mobile device, which I will link back to here. Let me know if you have any questions or need any additional information and I will be happy to do what I can to help you.