Facebook Privacy

Yes, this is a bit complicated. I want to try to make Facebook privacy as easy as possible (as of February 2013). This doesn’t cover everything, but hopefully it covers the main concerns most people might have.

General Tips

1) Don’t ever put something in a Facebook post that you would be humiliated if a friend’s friend saw it. Be especially careful if there could be bad consequences if the general public saw it. Accidents happen.

2) Keep especially private things in private messages, not in social media. If it’s meant for just one person, message that person in a private message (either with Facebook messaging/chat or email). Social media is social, not private.

Understanding Privacy Settings

1) You control the privacy of the material you post. Click the button to the left of the Post button to change who can see your post.

2) To change the privacy of something you already posted (photo: Facebook)

3) The privacy of my comments on others’ posts depends on the privacy setting they chose when posting it, not on my privacy settings.

So if I comment on your post, you already controlled who will see my comment when you posted it. If it was posted as a public comment, my comment can be viewed by all my friends and all the friends of the person who posted it. Check the icon on the post: the icon below represents Friends, so all the poster’s friends will see my comment.

 Friends can see this post and all comments.


A globe means public– be careful with those.


Friends of Friends


Check the privacy setting of a post before commenting on it or liking it. Your comment will be visible to either their friends, friends of friends, or anyone, depending on the setting. (There is also a custom setting that can restrict the post from certain people, show only to a particular group, etc.)

4) According to Facebook, public posts can be found by anyone using an Internet search engine.

5) Any photo marked as a profile photo is viewable by anyone, anywhere.

6) To control what gets posted to your timeline (or choose to review posts before they get posted), see this link. (Your timeline is the info below your profile picture.)

7) If you don’t want your birthday year, etc visible to others, adjust those settings by clicking Update Info (under profile pic) and edit your Basic info.

8) The “ticker” or live feed at the upper right of your home page makes it simple for you to “eavesdrop” when one of your Facebook friends says something to someone you don’t know.  The ticker displays everything that your friends are doing on anyone’s post that is public or friends of friends. So beware that lots of people could be seeing your comment depending on the privacy setting of the post or image you are commenting on.

9) If you tag a photo, the friends of the person you tagged can see the photo, regardless of the photo’s privacy setting (with the exception of “only me”). Note that you can control what photos you are tagged in, and you can choose to review tags before they are published.

10) If you include someone’s name in your post (as a tag–that Facebook creates into a link to that person), then that person’s friends can see the post also (unless you adjust the custom sharing settings to not include that person’s friends.)