In the age of the Internet, privacy is a luxury and you have to constantly be on your heels to maintain it. Facebook makes it particularly hard for users to guard their personal data. Despite many changes, Facebook privacy settings remain complicated. Moreover, past updates have unexpectedly made previously private information available to the public.
Well, no stranger needs to know your email address, phone number, or see your family pictures. In this article I show how you can check what the public can see of you on Facebook. I also explain how you can control which of your information is visible.
What Information Can The Public See?
Do you think your profile is all locked up and the public cannot see anything they shouldn’t? Well, how about we check it out, just to be sure!
Go to your Facebook Timeline, i.e. the page that is shown when you click your own name on Facebook. While you are logged in, you will of course see everything. In the top right of your profile summary that heads the Timeline, you should see a Settings icon next to the Activity Log button. Click Settings and select View As…
This reveals what your Facebook Timeline looks like to a complete stranger. You can also test the view for specific people, by entering their names in the respective field in the top left.
The Timeline is one thing, but what you should really check is your About page. So while viewing your Timeline from the public’s perspective, click About in the bottom left of the header. This is where Facebook potentially reveals your contact information, your employer, your education, where you live etc.
Something else you should check is what other parts of your Facebook profile are available to strangers by clicking the About button in the top left. This could include your friends list, your photos, your likes, subscriptions, events you are attending, your notes, and music.
So did you spot anything you didn’t want the public to see?
How Can I Remove Items From Public View?
For most content, Facebook makes privacy control fairly easy.
Let’s start with your About page. Return to this page in your normal logged in view. Notice there is an Edit button in the top right of every box. An exception is your history because it only aggregates available information. Click Edit for an item you want to change, then click the little symbols next to each entry to control who can see this information. You can choose from a few default options, including Friends or Only Me . You can also make the information available to custom lists of friends. Don’t forget to hit Save every time you change a setting.
Curious about how to create custom lists of friends? Find out how you can use Facebook Friends Lists For Interests Or Circles.
Next, we will look at Photos. You can control the privacy for each photo individually. This is good to know because you cannot control the privacy level for the Profile Pictures album. To change its visibility, open a photo and click the Edit button on the right. Now you can change the description, location, date, and select who can see the photo. Click the Done Editing button to save your changes.
Fortunately, you can easily change the visibility of your custom photo albums. You will find the menu icon to change who can see an album, next to the number of photos in the respective album.
If you do not want others to see photos you were tagged in, review the 3 Things You Need To Know About Photo Tagging In Facebook to find out how to control tags.
Finally, to control what else people can see of you, including photos you were tagged in, let’s look at your overall Privacy Settings. In the top right of your profile, click the little arrow and select Privacy Settings. This page allows you to customize privacy settings ranging from who can find and contact you on Facebook (How You Connect) and who can see posts you have been tagged in to social ads.
More Resources to Protect Your Facebook Privacy
One article cannot cover everything. If you have a feeling that there is a lot more you need to learn about guarding your Facebook privacy, you are probably right. Here is some material that will help you along the way:
- ROUNDUP: 5 Must-Know Critical Facebook Privacy Tips
- The Top 5 Privacy Tips For Facebook Timeline Applications
- How To Control Your Privacy With The Facebook Timeline
What are some of your biggest privacy concerns with Facebook? Is there any personal information you wish you could control that wasn’t mentioned above?