Social Media

Sick Of Facebook? Set Your Account To Read-Only Mode [Weekly Facebook Tips]

Angela Randall 06-08-2013

Even if you hate Facebook, there are some very compelling reasons to have an account. Like, for instance, the fact that most of your friends probably have accounts. It’s tempting to have an account simply so you can see what they’ve been up to and view their photos. But, how can you join Facebook without getting involved? It’s possible.


What we’re aiming to do here is create a Facebook account with minimal information and minimal interaction: Read-only mode. It’s an account used just to look at what other people are up to, not for your own sharing. Even if you don’t intend to create a read-only mode account, read on to see if there are any parts of your Facebook account that are currently more exposed than you’d like.

Creating The Read-Only Account

If you’re looking to make a read-only Facebook account, it may be tempting to use a fake name and birthday with a throw-away email account. While you may get away with this for a while, Facebook also might one day delete your account without warning. My opinion is that it’s best to stick to Facebook’s terms, but to give minimal information outside of that. Also, use an email address you won’t lose access to.

Facebook sign up

Keep in mind that your name, gender and profile picture will be public no matter what you do. So, perhaps upload a picture of a nice tree as a profile pic to keep your image generic.

When you create your account, Facebook will ask you to sync your email address book with Facebook. If you want privacy and minimal contact, don’t do this. It will be used to suggest friendships to both you and your friends.


Lock Down Your Timeline

Although it’s possible to not enter any information to your timeline, some things are there already, like your email address and birthday. You also generate information for the timeline when you like Pages, updates or photos, and make comments. You may not intend to do any of these things just now, but one day you might. Content is also generated when your friends tag you or write on your Timeline.

Sick Of Facebook? Set Your Account To Read-Only Mode [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook Privacy

There are a number of steps to ensuring your account is really locked down. For starters, head to Privacy Shortcuts > See More Settings. Work through every item and lock things down to “Only Me” or the most private option possible. For instance, “Who can see my stuff?” can be locked down to “Only Me”, while “Who can look me up?” can be locked to “Friends”.

To stop your friends writing on your timeline and tagging you, click on the Timeline And Tagging Settings tab. Change everything to the most limited setting. For instance, “Who can post on your timeline?” can be locked to “Only Me”, and all options to “Review tags” should be ON. If the option for “Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?” is available to you, limit that as well.


Sick Of Facebook? Set Your Account To Read-Only Mode [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook Timeline Privacy

Turn Off Following

In your settings, click on the Follower Settings tab and ensure Following is turned off (if it is, the headline would be “Turn On Follow”). This will ensure you are not followed by anyone hoping you’ll one day give them some content.

Facebook follow

Make Your “Likes” Private

Despite your best intentions, you may find yourself “Liking” content on Facebook, such as photos and comments. These “Likes” are public by default, so you need to change that. Head to your timeline and click on your “About” tab, or head straight to your “Likes“.


Sick Of Facebook? Set Your Account To Read-Only Mode [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook Likes Privacy

Click on the little pencil, choose “Edit Privacy” and then change each item to “Only Me”. You’ll also want to do similar for the rest of the sections, such as Movies, Books, TV Shows, Places, Friends, Photos, Games, Music, Groups, plus each and every little section listed under “About”, including Basic Information, Contact Information, Living, Work & Education. For some of the sections like “Events” and “Groups” you are given the option to “Hide Section”. Do this if you want to keep them private.

Sick Of Facebook? Set Your Account To Read-Only Mode [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook Likes Privacy2

Turn Off Chat

If you just want to read what other people have to say, Facebook chat is probably not something you want left on. You can turn it off completely, or you could limit your chat settings How to Change Which Facebook Friends Can See You Online It's possible to maintain privacy on Facebook. Here's how to decide which Facebook friends can see you online and which can't. Read More to just a few people using their names or a Facebook friends list.


Silence Apps

You may be creating a read-only Facebook account specifically to use certain apps, or you may be against them. However, if you are using apps, make sure all of them are set so that any updates they make are restricted to the “Only Me” privacy setting. This can be done when you first authorize the app to access your Facebook account.

Facebook app

Getting Information Out Of Facebook

If you also don’t intend to use Facebook regularly, you might like to use a few tricks to get Facebook information out of its domain and into the real world 10 Ways To Use Facebook Without Going To Facebook Read More . For instance, getting Facebook birthdays How To Get Your Facebook Birthdays Into Google Calendar Without Apps Are you sometimes a little forgetful when it comes to your friends' birthdays? Or do you just like having all the important dates filed away in the same place? Whichever category you fit into, you'll... Read More and Facebook events into your Google Calendar, reading your friends’ updates using your RSS reader Keep Up With Your Favourite Social Networks Using RSS Notifications Keeping track of the many social networks you're a member of can certainly be a challenging task. Between Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Flickr, and more, we all probably have at least two or three accounts... Read More , and more.

Deleting Or Hiding Previous Posts

If you have already been using your account socially, you may have a bunch of updates and likes that you want to get rid of. Check out your Activity log to delete everything one-by-one. Otherwise, just limit all your past posts to “Only Me”.

About Read-Only Mode

Yes, this whole idea of read-only mode is not exactly easy. It’s surprising just how many obstacles Facebook has put in the way, despite streamlining their privacy settings. In addition to everything mentioned above, keep in mind that if you’ve had a Facebook account in the past, simple things like the same phone number can provide Facebook with plenty of information, so don’t be surprised if you start getting friends suggestions from your past despite not including any personal information.

Are you planning on having your Facebook account set to read-only mode? Do you think it’s worth it, or is it better to just not have an account at all?

Related topics: Facebook, Online Privacy.

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  1. Don A
    July 1, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    I have just signed up for Lyft as a driver. To log into their website, you have two options:
    1) Log in using facebook (using "OAuth2", see link below)
    2) Enter a pin code that is texted to your phone (note this code changes each time you log in)

    I have serious concerns about Facebook and privacy. Lyft's other option is a pain, since it requires my phone be on, charged and next to me, just so I can log in and see my payment information is a pain. Most web sites allow you to use Google as you "Oauth2" authenticator, which is what I prefer to use.

    OAuth2 is really secure system. The third party apps never know your password. The OAuth2 provider (Google, Facebook, etc) then gives you a list of what information would be shared with the 3rd party. If you don't think the app should know your birthday, you then can cancel the connection. YOUR PASSWORD IS NEVER SHARED!

  2. Mark
    February 25, 2015 at 3:44 am

    I'd like to know if there's a way to limit privacy of comments, even if the item you are commenting on is set to public by the original user that posted it.

    • williamtheconquerorworm
      April 21, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      Me too. So many message boards attached to news articles are "Facebook only". Even if they list other logins like Google and Yahoo, many still go through Facebook. Any help here?

  3. Juan D
    August 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    its easier to leave facebook completly, but its a good option if you are not willing to

  4. QuantumPCSupport
    August 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Really...........! one can take break from Facebook................Need to try this one