Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Facebook Timeline Privacy Settings

Facebook has been rolling out Timeline for a while, and just announced it is making the final push. Over the next few weeks everyone will have it with no opt out option. The most frequent question I get is how to control the privacy. The controls are very granular, although it may be tedious, I want to show you every location to make an adjustment.

About - www.facebook.com/username/info (change "username" to yours)
  • Work and Education - Click edit; within this section you will see a small down arrow in the upper right corner. If you click on that you can define the visibly of your current and past jobs. That first one only controls your employment; further down on the right side there will also be controls for each education entry.
  • About You - First click edit, then you can control the privacy with the down arrow.
  • Basic Info - Click edit, then control the individual privacy for birthday, relationship, political views, etc. There are a total of six individual privacy adjustment in this section.
  • Living - Edit to control the privacy of your hometown and current city; separately.
  • Contact Info - Edit to change the privacy of every contact method.
  • Favorite Quotations - Edit, then press down arrow in the upper right to control the visibility.
  • Relationship or Family - Editing either will control both sections at once. You can not control individual family members; it is all or nothing.
  • Pages - If you are the administrator for any pages you can use the check boxes to control which are displayed on your profile.

Friends - www.facebook.com/username/friends
  • Friends List - Click edit to change the visibility of your friends list on your profile.

Photos - www.facebook.com/username/photos
  • Your Albums - Control the privacy of each folder using the little down arrow. Be sure to click "see all" to control all of your albums.

Likes - www.facebook.com/username/favorites
  • Favorites - Click edit to enter the change screen. Within there you can change the privacy of every section using the familiar arrow; be sure to "Save Changes" for every individual section.
  • Like - These are the pages you like. To change the privacy adjust "Other Pages You Like" from the section above.

Timeline - www.facebook.com/username
  • Favorites - Favorites are the small rectangle boxes near the top of your timeline profile page. You can click the little down arrow on the right to enter the editing mode. To remove one, hover over it, click the edit icon, then click "Remove from Favorites". To add one click the plus (+) icon on an empty rectangle.
  • Timeline - You can adjust every post shown in your timeline by hovering over it. You can edit, delete, or hide a post by using the icons in the top right corner (when you hover on it) and/or change the privacy by clicking the icon next to the date. I have found it is easier to use the Activity Log to do this.
  • View As - Underneath your cover photo on the right side is a down arrow. If you click on it, then click "View As..." you will see what your profile looks publicly to any user. Using the box at top left you can see how it look to a specific friend. To see how it looks to a non-Facebook user simply log out and visit your profile link.

Activity Log - www.facebook.com/username/allactivity

  • Activity Log - Here you can view and adjust every like, photo, comment, and share since you started using Facebook. To the right of every line item are two icons. The first controls the privacy of the entry; the second allows you to edit, hide, delete, unlike, etc.

  • Individual Posts - You set the privacy at the time of every post. Your last setting is the default for the next, so be careful if you switch between Public and Private posts.
  • Default Privacy - This controls the privacy when individual controls are not available on certain apps.
  • How You Connect - Control who can find you, send you messages, or write on your timeline (wall).
  • How Tags Work - Adjust who can tag you and set your "Maximum Timeline Visibility".
  • Apps and Website - Control what is shared with apps and websites and what they are allowed to do on your behalf.
  • Limit the Audience for Past Posts - Change all your past posts to be Friends only.
  • Blocked People and Apps - Add or remove blocked people or applications.

Simple, right? Not really! The best improvement Facebook could make is to have a single privacy toggle that will control/override/reset all the individual privacy controls. I do like having the control of each specific item, but it can be very confusing.

What's your take on the privacy controls? And, do you like Timeline better than your Wall?


  1. Is there any way to control which of your comments show up in the new ticker?

    1. Paige, no there is not, but it is true to the privacy rules you set (or the rules of the item you interact with). Anything in the ticker that people see they could see on the original item; it just consolidates it.

  2. Hi Dain. Thanks for this.

    Yes... the ticker thing is what really bothers me! For instance... what/where are the privacy rules for posting on other people's walls? I ask, because sometimes I see a friend wrote something on a friend's wall (of a person that I don't even know)... so I don't want my mom (let's say) to see in her ticker that I wrote something on my best friend's wall. (I'm in my 30s and I still don't want my mom knowing too much about my life... ha)


    1. You're welcome. Comments take on the privacy setting/visibility of the post. If you comment on a public post then your comment can be seen by anyone; friends of friends works as you would think.

      Timeline privacy (for writing on a wall) is set by the person you are writing on. In the "How You Connect" section there is a setting called "Who can see posts by others on your timeline?". If your friend has that set as public anyone can see what you wrote on there.

      The ticker is going to show what you do on people's walls or posts to mutual people. It gets tricky! If you post on your friend;s public post or wall your Mom would see that in the ticker because she is friends with you and has access to see the item you created/interacted with. If you posted or commented on your friend's post that has the privacy set to friends or friends, then your Mom would also see it because she is a friend of a friend. Your Mom would only not see what you do if you comment or write on something that is set to friends only and your Mom is not friends with them.

    2. Thanks so much for taking the time to explain it all. I sure wish there was a way to not have it show up at all though! Oh well... I suppose my facebook comments will be much less frequent than they used to be. Thanks! -Kelly

  3. thanks for posting this... so frustrating how unprofessional some of the development and rollout of changes is for this app... I know it is free but it is playing with privacy information so they should be more cautious!!!