Internet Social Media

8 MORE Steps To Regain Control Of Your Facebook Privacy

Mahendra Palsule 13-01-2010

FB PrivacyWe have covered 8 steps to regain control of your Facebook Privacy in Part 1 8 Steps to Regain Control of Your Facebook Privacy Read More . If you haven’t already, please read it, as we covered privacy basics in search visibility, photos and videos, relationships and contact information.


Let us now proceed with the next steps concerning Facebook privacy controls in the context of applications, friends, news feed, wall posts, groups, ads, and quitting Facebook.

#9: Control What Your Friends Can Share About You

As explained earlier 10 Solid Tips to Safeguard Your Facebook Privacy Read More , your Facebook friends can reveal information about you to applications of their choice even if you yourself do not use those applications. A typical example is when your friends use a birthday application that reminds them of your birthday so that they can send you a card or gift.

Unfortunately, this also means they reveal your religious, sexual, and political preferences as well as other personal information about you. Birthday information is also misused by financial fraudsters. All of this can be shared via more than 500,000 applications with more than 1 Million developers from over 180 countries.

What Friends Can Share

If you don’t want to do that, go to Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites page. Click Edit Settings for What your friends can share about you. Choose what you want to share or uncheck all boxes for maximum privacy.

#10: Reduce Visibility of Your Facebook Friendships

Your friends list is visible to everyone on Facebook by default. Some people browse others’ friends for voyeuristic or marketing purposes. Unfortunately, Facebook now considers your friends list as “publicly available information” so there is no way to hide it completely. You can make it slightly harder for strangers to see your friend list. Go to your profile page, click the pencil icon next to your Friends box, and uncheck the Show Friend List to Everyone box.

Friend List Privacy

Note that your friends list is still visible to all applications (and their developers) as well as to anyone who knows your Facebook username or ID.

#11: Remove Unused Applications

As explained in “9. Privacy From Your Applications” in the original guide 10 Solid Tips to Safeguard Your Facebook Privacy Read More , you should review the list of Applications you have authorized on Facebook and remove unused apps.

Application Settings

Go to Settings > Application Settings from the top menu, and review all applications listed by choosing Authorized, Allowed to Post, and Granted Additional Permissions from the drop-down.

#12: Minimize Publishing Recent Activity To News Feed

The ability to control the Recent Activity news feed on your wall as described in “5. Control Automatic Wall Posts and News Feed Updates” in the original guide 10 Solid Tips to Safeguard Your Facebook Privacy Read More has now been removed from Facebook. Therefore, there is no way to stop notifications appearing on your wall when you add a new friend, comment on or like a friend’s status, note, photo, video, or link.

Apps Allowed To Post

However, you can still stop certain kinds of notifications from appearing as Recent Activity on your wall news feed. This includes notifications when you become a fan of a page, are RSVPed to an event, receive a gift, join a Group, or are tagged in a photo or video. To do this, go to Settings > Application Settings from the top menu, and change the drop-down to Allowed to Post. For each of the applications listed below, click Edit Settings, Additional Permissions and uncheck the Publish to streams box.

  • Ads and Pages
  • Developer
  • Events
  • Gifts
  • Groups
  • Links
  • Photos & Videos

There are two additional points to note:

  1. Wall-to-wall posts with a friend are only visible to mutual friends of both.
  2. You can still manually Remove all Recent Activity news feed posts from your wall.

#13: Control Privacy Of Wall Posts

Your Facebook status messages can now be public and searchable from external search engines like Google. You can also set Facebook privacy controls on a per-post basis, but it’s better to set the default privacy setting for your wall posts. Go to Privacy Settings > Profile Information, and select Only Friends for Posts by Me.

Posts By Me

Next, to control your wall privacy, go to your Profile page and click the Options link under the Share button. Then click Settings. Here, you can control whether your friends can write to your wall and who can see wall posts made by your friends.

Wall Privacy Settings

It’s better to restrict who sees wall posts made by your friends. For example, college buddies may write things on your wall that may not be suitable for a professional audience.

#14: Hide Group Memberships In Your Profile Information

The Groups that you are a member of are listed in your profile. To remove them from your profile, go to Settings > Application Settings from the top menu, and click Edit Settings for the Groups application.

Group Privacy Settings

Click (remove) to remove Group memberships from the Info section of your profile. Set the privacy level for visibility of your group memberships to Only Me.

Note that when you post a message to a Group’s wall, a notification will still be posted on your profile. This step simply makes the list of groups invisible on your Profile page Info tab.

#15: Avoid Appearing In Advertisements

There are no changes to Facebook privacy regarding advertisements, but the location to access these settings has changed. Now, go to Settings > Account Settings, and click the Facebook Ads tab.

Facebook Ad Privacy

Set both options under Ads shown by third party applications and Ads shown by Facebook to No one to avoid appearing in any advertisements on Facebook.

#16: Understand Difference Between Deactivating and Deleting Account

These privacy changes in Facebook have prompted some users to quit Facebook altogether. If you decide that Facebook is not your cup of tea, you must understand the difference between deactivating and deleting your Facebook account.

Deactivate Account

From Settings > Account Settings, you will see an option to Deactivate Account. Deactivation simply puts your Facebook account in a suspended state. All your profile information, pictures, friends, and wall posts remain intact on Facebook servers, but are not accessible to other Facebook users including your friends. You can resume using Facebook as before simply by logging into Facebook again.

If you wish to permanently delete your account, you need to submit your request on this page. This will remove all your information from Facebook’s servers, and there will be no way to access or recover your account and profile information again.

This completes our guide to how you can regain your privacy in Facebook to the extent possible, while also explaining which Facebook privacy controls are no longer available. How are these changes affecting your Facebook experience? Do you have any other tips to share? Shout out in the comments!

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  1. sara
    February 23, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    how can I make two facebook friends invisible to each other?

  2. Pete
    February 22, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I am in a Group, which is private. How can I keep the Group posts from showing up on MY OWN Newsfeed?

  3. AnnaVan
    February 8, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Thank you for such well constructed posts on this topic.

    Of course, I have a question..

    You write above that "[...] you can still stop certain kinds of notifications from appearing as Recent Activity on your wall news feed. This includes notifications when you become a fan of a page [...].

    I've unchecked the "Publish recent activity (one line stories) to my wall" in the Ads & Pages Application Settings, but those stories still publish.

    From what I've understood friends AND fans additions can only be deleted manually from my wall AFTER I've added them [via the "Remove" button]. Can you confirm? or clarify?


    • Mahendra Palsule
      February 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm

      @AnnaVan: Fan page subscriptions are now considered 'publicly available information'. If unchecking the Ads & Pages app's permission to publish recent activity is not doing the job, I'm afraid you are correct - you will need to remove them manually.

      Thanks for the correct observation!

  4. K.
    February 2, 2010 at 10:04 am

    I am a bit confused by one thing: Say I have all my settings set to "friends only" for everything. I am friends with Jane. Jane is friends with Tom.

    Jane comments on my status and her activity is published to her wall with my name linking to my profile and "status" linking to my status.

    Can Tom click on the word status and view my status, and therefore my profile? Testing it out, I didn't find a single profile that would NOT let me view their profile and status in the past few days when I clicked on a Friend's activity. These profiles were for people I am not friends with. I do not know their profile settings.

    I do not want someone I am not friends with getting access to my status or profile because we share a mutual friend, which is why I use "Friends Only" for all privacy settings and not "Friends of Friends".

    Thanks for the articles!

    • Mahendra Palsule
      February 2, 2010 at 7:06 pm

      @K: Tom can view your status if he has access to both your and Jane's wall.

      The reason you are seeing statuses of people who are not friends with you is either because they have their wall privacy set to Friends of Friends or Everyone, or the visibility of those specific status messages to Friends of Friends or Everyone.

    • Athena
      February 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm

      Respectfully, Mr. Palsule, this is not the case as a rule.

      Using my example from before, I have my settings set to either Friends only or Only Me. That's it.

      I know for a fact, due to seeing with my own eyes in the account of someone I am not friends with, who ALSO has their settings to Only Friends, that he was able to see the status message.

      Facebook has created the facade of 'control', but you really need to test things out in other people's accounts to really see what's going on!

      I have completely ceased from all activity on FB. I will not post, comment, or like ANYTHING. (This was mainly to see if I could affect their undisclosed 'algorithm')

      The only thing I will do now is send private messages to people, as it is THE ONLY THING LEFT that is private on FB.

      FOR NOW.

      • Mahendra Palsule
        February 2, 2010 at 10:47 pm

        @Athena: If that is indeed the case (and there are no "Likes" or "Comments" involved), then it would be a case for filing a bug report via Facebook help forums.

  5. stephen
    January 25, 2010 at 8:47 am

    i set everything on my profle to friends only...but when i preview my network and gender and fan pages show

    any help? thx

    • Mahendra Palsule
      January 25, 2010 at 9:19 am

      @stephen: Please read the previous Part 1. Your network, gender, and fan pages are now considered public information.

  6. Dijana
    January 18, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Hello Mahendra,
    well, it's really helpful ! However still kinda puzzled about some things.
    1) is it possible to ban a person of seeing my statuses, links, notes etc and at the same time leave him the possibility to see my wall as such, like be able to write something, see applications that r stuck to my wall etc ? I can't achieve that.. It looks as if people can see all of nothing, which gives people the clear idea ur hiding stuff from them.
    2) talking about all those apps, is it possible to prevent people from sticking all those hearts and roses from publishing to my wall (directly from the app) while, again, leave the same person the possibility to write reply/comment to my wall ?
    3) as I understood from ur article, if I go to ur wall and write something, only our mutual friends will get it in the news feed ?
    Thank u !

    • Mahendra Palsule
      January 18, 2010 at 10:30 am

      Hello @Dijana:

      1. No, that is not possible.

      2. The best way to deal with unwanted app notifications is by blocking all notifications from that app:

      3. Yes. Specifically: "only people who can see both your Wall, and the Wall to which you posted would be able to see a story about you writing on a friend’s Wall."

      Hope this helps!

      • Dijana
        January 22, 2010 at 3:07 am

        Thank u ! :)
        And one more question, if I delete the post from my profile (that I had published) is it automatically deleted from home pages of my friends, or only from mine ?
        thnx !

        • Mahendra Palsule
          January 22, 2010 at 4:33 am

          When you remove a post from your wall, it is removed everywhere. :)

        • Athena
          January 24, 2010 at 10:36 pm


          I have checked this SEVERAL times, in the accounts of people who ARE and are NOT friends of mine on FB...

          For instance, every time I comment/like something, my next stop is to my profile page to remove it. EVERY TIME.

          But then, one time, I saw in my friends feed - like 10 hours later after he logged in, that my comments and likes were in his news feed. Even though I removed them within SECONDS. Might I remind, that he logged in 10 HOURS LATER...

          Facebook is not being honest. I also noticed that my activity shows up in -his- feed, but his activity (nor any of the rest of my 140+ friends) does not show up in mine. At all. So I looked into it, and FB admits that they use an 'algorithm' based upon how active you are, to determine whether or not your activity shows up in other people's feeds. Ok, so I had no choice over that and that sucks.

          BUT ALSO - here goes the lie again. A girl and I are mutual friends with a radio personality who is quite active. HIS activities show up in HER feed like mine do, but HIS DO NOT SHOW UP IN MINE. WHY?!?!? Based upon their supposed 'algorithm', if his is showing up in hers, they should be showing up in mine.

          The whole thing is BOGUS and they LIE.

          Do a check for yourself in other people's accts to really see how you are being presented. Seriously do it.

        • Mahendra Palsule
          January 24, 2010 at 11:20 pm

          @Athena: Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Yes, there can be a significant delay in Facebook deleting/removing content from everywhere.

        • Tracie
          January 29, 2010 at 1:24 am

          I think this difference in who sees the postings of the radio personality may have to do with the settings of the radio personality. He can control who sees his posts, right? Maybe your friend is classified by the radio personality into different list(s) than you are classified into. Like she might be included in the personality's "shapely chix" list, while you're only in the "frequent caller" and "politically active" list.

        • Athena
          January 29, 2010 at 1:34 am

          Tracie - Although I will not sit here and say that your hypothesis is not possible, I was just using he and I as an example.

          My main issue is, and will remain, that they have taken away my ability to control what information gets thrown into people's feeds. One of my issues, is that people will get sick of seeing the 'likes this photo', 'commented on Michael Jackson's status', and 'shared a link on Madonna's wall', and will instead choose to hide me altogether (and of which I would never know).

          Because of their stupid 'algorithm', I now am thrust into the feeds of people who I am SURE do not care about what photo I liked, or what comment I wrote on someone's wall who they don't even know from Adam.

          I think that in the long run, FB is going to see an aggregate shift, as I (and many others I know, and on here) are taking actions to try to either counteract (like not posting/being as active) their changes, or leaving FB entirely.

          I myself believe that I am going to start a fan page, kick everyone out that I don't already see in person/call on the phone/regularly e-mail, and shift all of the others over to the forthcoming fan page.

          It's not going to be an easy process, but I do know a growing number of people who are creating new profiles as to try to maintain some kind of privacy.

  7. Nick B.
    January 16, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for a great article Mahendra.

    Can I suggest you highlight the feature to "view profile as another person" which can be found under privacy settings -> preview my profile? I've found this facility very useful when fine-tuning my friend groups.

    • Mahendra Palsule
      January 16, 2010 at 8:11 pm

      @Nick: Thanks for your comment. Yes, I did consider including that feature, but sacrificed it due to space constraints. It is quite helpful, like you mention.

      Also check out #9 in the earlier post last year, where I have described apps that let you "view friends' profile as developer".

  8. ashley
    January 15, 2010 at 9:11 am


    Originally, it was possible to completely remove yourself from searches/being seen by people on FB who were not your friends. Now, it is a MUST to have at the very least "Friends of Friends" be able to see you in their friend suggestion box. This is annoying - I've written FB to ask them to change it back (on numerous occasions) but they have yet to do so.

    I'm wondering if you know how to make a person invisible, yet again, in the searches?

    • Mahendra Palsule
      January 15, 2010 at 5:45 pm

      @ashley: Search visibility and friends suggestion box are different things.

      Please see Step #4 in the earlier post for how to limit search visibility to "Only Friends".

      But, as I understand, you may still be suggested as a friend to "Friend of Friends".

  9. Ken Peters
    January 14, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Very easy-to-follow-along-and-do article, Mahendra. A real service.

    Question: in #10 above you write "Note that your friends list is still visible to all applications (and their developers) as well as to anyone who knows your Facebook username or ID" even if you un-check the box that says "Show Friend List to everyone."

    Can you clarify this? The Friend List is supposed to always be available to friends, who presumably know your username or ID, but how is it available to people who aren't developers? Usually things that are only visible to friends are just that. When you un-check this box, doesn't the Friend List become invisible on the Profile page to anyone who isn't a friend?

    • Mahendra Palsule
      January 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm

      @Ken: Thank you. The Friend List is visible to ordinary users via a hack. It gives direct access to a person's friend list using specific URLs of the kind "" in combination with the User ID. For obvious reasons, I am not revealing the exact URL here.

      • Ken Peters
        January 14, 2010 at 10:02 pm

        I see. Thanks. Hopefully there aren't other hacks like that one.

  10. Suits
    January 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    I closed my facebook account after they removed my privacy controls. They don't understand that if they fine grain it most people would have a better experience.

  11. inkblob
    January 13, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    I've read both parts, very thorough and easy to understand, Mahendra! I will definitly fwd this to friends who find the whole prospect daunting.

    Of course I was hoping that you uncovered some gem with the newsfeed changes. An update on my previous observations, I found that not every comment, like or join was showing up in everyone's feed. I have 2 other different accounts I can look at, and one of them wasn't showing the same items!

    However, the Remove button seems to be more robust now, when I took off a joined group action from my personal wall it did not show up in friend's walls, unlike how it was previously, so that's progress right?

    It's a good idea to be cognicant of your actions in any case, and assume that at some point all privacy will break down for at least a day on the site and you don't want too stinky of laundry to be airing. Facebook is clearly not a sandbox, stuff does not get erased.

    • Mahendra Palsule
      January 13, 2010 at 10:33 pm

      @inkblog: Thank you for your comments. I'm not sure why every comment/like was not showing up (they're tweaking the stuff all the time), but in any case, I guess we all are more concerned with things showing up rather than the other way around! :)

      Yes, the Remove function works as it is supposed to work. Your advice about being cognizant and assuming all privacy will break down is certainly a wise one. Better be safe than sorry.

  12. Loxor
    January 13, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Is there some way to prevent posts to a friends wall appearing in other friends live feeds? I know this was possible before the privacy settings changed, but now i can't find a way to revert it back to the way it was.

    • Mahendra Palsule
      January 13, 2010 at 7:43 pm

      @Loxor: As noted in #12, when you post to a friend's wall, it appears in the news feed of only those people who are friends with both you and your friend.

      There is no way to turn this off, but you can manually click "Remove" on the right of each post to remove it from the news feed.

      • hakuna
        January 27, 2010 at 6:33 am

        Hi, But i have manually deleted the posts each time after posting but it still seems to appear on the newsfeed.

        Same with comments made on friends photos. Even after manually clicking on REMOVE, it still seems to appear on my friends newsfeed. Do you know any other way of making comments private? Before the change, mine was private but even though I opted to keep the 'old setting', the wall post and photo comment privacy seems to have been removed.

  13. Shrew
    January 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you again for these amazing tips! They are so helpful. I've just edited all of my Facebook privacy settings using your two articles.