Tips to Facebook Privacy 2012

EDIT: This tutorial has been UPDATED for 2013. Go here.

Ever wonder if you’re really safe on Facebook?

I know, that’s a silly question. While it’s true that you’re safer not being on Facebook at all, most of us aren’t ready to give it up yet. It’s too much fun!

Fortunately, there are ways to lock your profile down as much as possible to help keep yourself safe, secure, and private. Relatively speaking.

Click to watch and learn with my Facebook Privacy Tutorial*:

*As with all things surrounding the wonderful online world, this too is subject to change without notice. Enter at your own peril.

How to Make Yourself (Almost) Invisible on Facebook

2014 Note: Check out my updated Facebook privacy tutorial because just about everything has changed from when I wrote this post, cosmetically or otherwise. I still recommend Step 1 of the set on this page here, organizing your friends into lists. You can also go directly to Facebook’s help topic about creating a custom friends’ list.


I get a lot of questions about how much a Facebook Business Page or its admins can see of your personal profile when you “Like” a Page.

The quick answer: Only what you’ve made public.

​If you’re not concerned about how public your Facebook posts, photos or other activities are–and believe me, even the “Friends of Friends” setting is scarily close to “Public”–then skip this post and watch this commercial instead.

For the rest of you, it’s always a good idea to check your privacy settings. Disclaimer: If you’re looking for complete safety and security, don’t go on Facebook.

Fortunately, you can lock down your profile so you can still catch up with friends and post blurry pictures involving foam green ears, a beer-can tree and a sick leprechaun on St. Patty’s Day with nary a qualm (see disclaimer above).

Manage Your Privacy in 7 1/2 Easy Steps

Step 1: Organize all your friends into Lists. Why a list? Because sometimes you don’t want disapproving aunts monitoring your snarky statements, or that coworker you friended out of a sense of obligation to find out where you hang on the weekends.

Click the Home link in the upper right-hand corner. Your Home page shows your NewsFeed and Ticker. Lists will appear in the left column. Hover over “Lists” and click More when it appears.

Click on an existing list to Manage it (add/remove friends, etc):

Step 1/2: If you’re unfamiliar with Lists, you can either use Facebook’s “Smart Lists” that are already created for you or make your own custom lists.

Yes, it may take awhile, but the benefit is making sure that people who you don’t want to see every little thing you do don’t see it. Got that? Moving on to Step 2…

Step 2: This time, click the Home drop-down and select Privacy Settings.

What you see:

Step 3: Under Control Your Default Privacy, select Custom for the most control.

Choose your default setting for who can view your posts. It looks like it’s more for apps you use to post from, such as your phone, but check it out. Remember, Friends of Friends is pretty close to Public, because you don’t know who knows whom.

Step 4: Next, choose How You Connect, which includes the all-important “who can look you up” on Facebook. If you don’t want random people looking you up, choose “Friends.” This will help keep you off Facebook’s Search for people you don’t know.

This does not affect who can send you messages or friend requests; those are separate settings in How You Connect. Make sure you look at all of them.

Step 5: How Tags Work. If you want to review posts your friends tag you in or tags they add to your posts BEFORE they appear on your Wall, make sure you set Timeline Review and Tag Review to “On.”

If you don’t want to show up in Facebook’s Tag Suggestions when people “upload photos that look like you,” because you don’t think Facebook should be all up in your business, set Tag Suggestions to “Off.”

Step 6: Apps and Websites. Click on “How people bring your info to apps they use” to control what the apps your friends are using can see about you. This is because apps want to know all of your information, all of your friends’ information, who your grandmother is, your childhood dog’s name, your blood type and your secret aspiration to be a rock star.

Lastly, click on “Public search” to make sure “Enable public search” is NOT checked.

You’re done with Privacy Settings. Get out of there and go to your Profile (click on your name at the top right).

Step 7. Click your Photos link to see all of your albums. On the lower right of each album, use the drop-down to select who can view your pictures. Note: You can change the audience for each picture in the Wall and Mobile Uploads albums.

You can also select the audience when you create a new album:

Have fun!

Note: Be aware of your friends’ settings on their own Walls. If their Wall or frequent posts (especially Mobile Uploads) are set to Public or Friends of Friends, that means any comment you make on their posts will be visible either to everyone or pretty much everyone. This goes for Business Pages too.

Yes, Facebook Really is Trying to Get All Your Information–Tasteful or Not

Depending on your point of view, Facebook’s aim to be our central hub of all incoming and outgoing information is either awesome, barely registers as a blip on the “meh” scale, or makes you want to dump your profile and go off the grid.

In Not Sharing Is Caring: Facebook’s terrible plan to get us to share everything we do on the Web, Zuckerberg’s got more going on than just re-sculpting our profiles and News Feeds:

“If Facebook’s CEO has his way, everything you do online will be shared by default. You read, you watch, you listen, you buy—and everyone you know will hear all about it on Facebook.”

Yes, Facebook is a business, and businesses make money, and we help Facebook make money through our information being diverted into all sorts of channels, some of which are fun for the user (social sharing apps) and some of which are not (random ads).

On the whole, we put up with it because we’re not yet ready to leave the connections we’ve made behind or features we like. We’re comfortable with the platform, and it’s just too darn easy to dash off a quick comment, upload an in-the-moment picture or arrange a birthday event when your invite-list is already there.

And as the article points out, at least we still have the option to opt-in to these new apps before they start auto-sharing what we do with them.

But how much sharing is too much?

I do like seeing what my friends are up to. I’ve found out some cool things hiding among all the chatter of who likes what page and who commented on which friend’s comment to another friend’s comment on their friend’s post. Before, if I wasn’t looking at the News Feed at the right time, I’d miss what a whole lot of somebodies had posted. Now with the immediacy of the Ticker and its scroll feature, I think I’m seeing more, and more easily.

But what we’re missing is telling these apps, the Ticker, and the News Feed just WHAT we want to share. Instead of being able to set our own options so every single “like” or comment on a friend’s post isn’t automatically broadcast, we’ve had to tell our friends to change their subscription options to us so they won’t see all the fluff. We’ve had to school each other on what “Friends of Friends” really means, now that it’s way more up close and personal than it was before. To me it just seems to be working backward.

And just wait ’til everyone gets the Timeline.

More to read: