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Facebook Privacy Settings – how to check your privacy settings

Facebook Privacy Settings – how to check your privacy settings

I recently ran some ‘train the trainer’ sessions at the Brighton Jubilee Library where part of the training was showing the staff and volunteers how to set up their own Facebook accounts so that they could show library users how to do it.

There were many questions and concerns about Facebook privacy, as is common with those that are new to social media. It got me thinking that we could all do with reassessing what we share with friends and/or the public online.

Being a parent makes you think about who can see your photos

I’m particularly mindful of privacy settings since becoming a mum and wanting to share photos of my daughter with certain people, whilst at the same time protecting her and not wanting any content to be used without my permission. Everyone has a digital footprint and children need to be protected. I’ve read some scary stories about photos and videos being used without the parents’ consent.

But whether you’re a parent or not, when did you last check your Facebook privacy settings? Whilst you can change these to suit you, it’s important to know that your profile picture and cover photo are always public no matter what your other settings.

Do you know what your Facebook privacy settings are?

Some people like to share everything about their lives, and that’s fine, but for a lot of us there are certain posts or photos that we want to share with a specific audience or limit to close friends and family. Here’s how to check your privacy settings on Facebook:

  • Click on the small padlock icon in the top right hand corner when you’re logged in. This will open up your privacy check up box.

checking FB privacy


  • Facebook leads you through a few basic settings, the first of which is the biggie – who can see your posts. This can be set to public, friends, only me, or any custom list that you create. You could create a list for family, close friends, work colleagues, etc.

Facebook privacy check up


  • The second step is working through the apps you’ve logged in to with Facebook. Adjust your settings here to determine who sees the apps that you use. You may well find a lot you nolonger use so you can delete them here.
  • The third step is looking at your personal information and here can decide who can see your contact details, date of birth etc. Although remember if you hide your birthday you won’t get all those lovely birthday wishes from Facebook friends!
FB privacy 2

So whilst my you now know my age, at least my Facebook friends don’t!


Do these settings remain the same?

They will, but remember that you can easily change the ‘who can see my stuff’ setting each time you publish a new update from either your profile page or your newsfeed. Simply click on the box to the left hand side of ‘post’ and change to the setting you wish. Remember that this will remain the setting until you change it again – if you set this to ‘public’ for one update but the next time you share something you want it to only be seen by your friends, then remember to change it to ‘friends’.

facebook update


Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 12.27.53

Different audiences for different content

Remember that once something is published on Facebook as a public post, it can be viewed by anyone and that image or video can be taken and used elsewhere. Personally, I don’t like the thought that some photos of my daughter could be viewed by people I don’t know who may not be friends of friends. I know its inevitable to a certain degree but I can control it too. If you check your activity log on Facebook you can see in more detail who can view the content you have interacted with.

It does annoy me when I see that parents have shared photos of children’s plays or sports days as public on Facebook, despite the school’s request about not doing so as they contain photos of other peoples children. There’s a bigger issues here about protection, consent and whether we can cling on to notions of privacy in the information age where social sharing is the norm… but we’ll leave that for another day.

Create custom lists

If you’re fundraising or sharing a petition, you might want this to be public. But you may wish to only share family photos with an audience consisting of your family and close friends. And work related content may be best shared with a different audience.

It could be worth spending a few minutes creating some custom lists so you can easily share your content with specific people each time you post. Whatever your decision, it’s definitely worth understanding your Facebook privacy settings.

If you’re interested, click here for further information on privacy settings published by Facebook themselves.