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How To Edit and Adjust Facebook Privacy Settings - An Essential Guide

Updated on August 6, 2014
A Walk Through Guide - How To Check and Adjust Your Facebook Privacy Settings
A Walk Through Guide - How To Check and Adjust Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Facebook's Privacy Settings

Considering how frequently Facebook seems to tweak its privacy and security controls, checking your own personal profile settings regularly is an essential task. There is no question about it. Privacy settings are not one of those things you just set and forget.

Why? Let’s look into this further.

Facebook makes sharing content, photos and videos with friends and family easy. Really easy. That is why it is so popular with people all over the world.

Got something to say? Post a status. Found a great article? Share it. Took some fantastic photos of your recent holiday? Upload them. Captured a video of your child at their dance class? Let your friends enjoy it too!

Easy. Isn’t it?

The question is do you know exactly who you are sharing your content with?

This guide will give you the detailed insights into exactly how you can set up your Facebook profile to be as secure as you want it to be.

Does Facebook really own our content, photos and videos?

Whilst we still ‘own‘ our private content, by the pure fact that we have uploaded it to Facebook, we are giving Facebook ownership rights too.


You have granted them “… non-exclusive, transferable… royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on … Facebook...

Did you know that?

Read more about this here.

Facebook's Terms of Service

Let’s take a step back. Back to the day when you first joined Facebook.

When you registered for your account, you would have been asked to agree to their Terms of Service (ToS). A 10,000+ word, jargon filled, legal document.

Did you actually read it or did you just tick the box and proceed?

I’d argue that almost everyone did the latter. You probably thought, “..This is Facebook. I am going to share my content with my friends and family. Where is the harm in that. To heck with the legalities that will take me hours to read and probably weeks to understand..

So you ticked the box and proceeded to set up your account with a profile image and off you went.

This is the first problem. It is what you didn’t read that is the start of many people’s bad experiences with this site.

One of the important areas relates to sharing of content. The ToS details, in quite easy to understand language, exactly who owns the content shared, what happens to content that you delete, how using third-party apps may impact your privacy and even details the impact of having your settings set to public.

Safe Profile Beta

Safe Profile Beta
Safe Profile Beta

What Does All This Mean To Your Personal Facebook Content?

By choosing to have a social media profile we must take ownership of our actions and accept that our content may get into the hands of people we had no intension of ever sharing with.

There are ways that we can address this and this is where our Privacy and Security settings come into play.

Facebook provide us with the ability to alter our security and privacy controls at anytime.

Unless you set the appropriate privacy and security you may end up accidentally sharing information and photos of children and family publicly that was only ever intended for your friends.

Quick Tip

Once you have made the recommended changes (should you wish to), you can then re-scan your profile. And you can continue to do this until you get a score of 10/10, or until you are comfortable with the results shown.

Facebook Secure App – Safe Profile Beta

Facebook has introduced a new application (app) called Safe Profile Beta. Its aim is to help you identify at a quick glance which areas of your privacy settings need addressing.

For some people, the number of setttings to review and setup are too overwhelming so use of this app is great as it is designed to keep up to date with every single tweak that Facebook makes.

Once you agree to proceed, the app will scan your profile and return the results of ten (10) of the most important settings and will recommended changes to make plus it will provide you with a safety score our of 10.

When I scanned my account it idenfitied three areas to look into. I personally thought I had everything locked down but clearly I had a few things missed. So this was a great wake up call.

Results Of Safe Profile Scan

Safe Profile Scanning Results
Safe Profile Scanning Results

Facebook Hashtags

Facebook Hashtags are now Live!

They are clickable and when they feed through from Twitter or other social media sites they will work and not just be an annoying #word.

Don't be worried about privacy though! This new feature will not impact or change your privacy settings.

How to Stop Anyone From Seeing Pictures You Tag to Your Friends on Facebook

Edit Photo Privacy On Facebook

When you upload a photo to Facebook, and you tag someone, by default, that person, as well as their friends can view the photo.

To prevent this, you can actually edit the settings so that only those tagged can see. And no one else.

  • Select a Facebook photo that you have uploaded.
  • Select "Edit" in the description area.
  • You will then see the names of those people you have tagged.
  • You can also see your current privacy settings. It is most likely set to 'Friends'.
  • Press on the drop down arrow, and select "Custom", then choose "Specific People or Lists".
  • Enter the names of those you have tagged.

What is Allowed On My Timeline?

If someone else has uploaded a photo to Facebook, and tagged you, unfortunately you do not have much control over the privacy settings, unless you remove the tag. You can, however, stop that photo from being shown on your Facebook Timeline.

  • Select a photo that you are tagged in and open it up.
  • The default is 'allowed on timeline'
  • From the drop down arrow, select 'hidden from timeline'
  • Be aware that this does not prevent the photo from showing on the Timeline of others unless they do the same thing.

Facebook Account Settings
Facebook Account Settings

Working Through Your Account Settings

Despite their being an app to help us, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the details of these settings directly on your account.

Account Settings

To access your account settings, click onto the small circle – cog image in the top right hand side of your Facebook page.

It will open up a menu and at the bottom you will see ‘Account Settings’. Selecting this will open up a series of tabs and settings which need to be worked through one by one. It may seem overwhelming but it is important and worth taking the time to set it up correctly.

How To Download a Copy Of Your Facebook Content

You may notice there is an option to download a copy of your Facebook Content. Selecting that option will bring up a new page and a set of instructions, detailing exactly what will be downloaded, what will not be included.

General Account Settings

Name – This must be your real name. If not you may lose access.

Username - A unique name used in profile URL ( and also in the free email address that Facebook creates for you ( You only have one chance to change this.

Email – The email addresses shown here are your login email address plus the one Facebook created based on your username. For some, this is the default, or primary, email address. Here are the details on how to remove the @Facebook email address from your account.

Password – If you want or need to update your password or set a more secure one, this is the place to do it.

General Account Settings
General Account Settings

Quick Tips

  • If you have left Facebook active in another location, such as at work or at a friend's home, you can use this option to remotely terminate that session. This will prevent anyone accessing your account.
  • If you ever notice anything you are not sure about or you need to you ever end an active unrecognized it is a good idea to change your password immediately.

Security Settings

The Facebook security settings govern the way that you not only browse the site but also identify yourself.

Security Question – This is the question that Facebook will ask you should there ever be any issues with your login and you need to be identified. If you have not already set one up it is a good idea to do so.

Secure Browsing – This feature should be enabled. Tick the box and this will mean that you will be browsing Facebook on a secure https connection when possible.

Login Notifications – If you enable this, everytime you log into your Facebook account you will receive a notification – whether it be an email or a text message. The benefits of this are to notify you if someone else is trying to access your account. If you choose to enable this, it is recommended to set this to text message for instant notification.

Login Approvals – You can also set up a feature to require a security code to be entered prior to allowing access to your account, if you or someone else attempts a login from an unknown browser.

App Passwords – If you use your Facebook account as a means of logging into apps, such as Skype or xBox, you can set up a separate app password which you enter, instead of you using your account password. This is a clever idea and well worth considering.

Recognised Devices – These are all of the laptops, computers, tablets and smartphones from which you have logged into your account from. If is worthwhile browsing these from time to time and if you see a device that you do not recognise, remove and it will log you (or someone else) out from that device.

Active Sessions – This displays current Facebook session and will show you the time, location and device type used. If you do not recognize it, simply select End Activity.

Security Settings
Security Settings

Privacy Settings

Who can see my stuff?

  • Who can see your future posts – This refers to who will be able to view any status updates, photo uploads etc going forward. Recommended setting is friends. Should you wish to change this on a case by case basis you can.
  • You can then Use the Activity Log to review all your previous posts and anything you have been tagged in. This gives you the chance to change any settings and even delete posts or tags you no longer want to display.

Who can look me up?

  • This is where you restrict how people can find you on Facebook. People can use both your primary email address and/or your name to find you. You can limit this access to Everyone, Friends of Friends or just friends.
  • Search Engines – To secure your account you will want this feature to be turned off. This tells search engines (ie Google, Yahoo) not to display your profile.

Privacy Settings
Privacy Settings

Quick Tip

Remember that tagging someone on your photo, even if you have your controls set to ‘Friends’ means that all the friends of your friend (and possibly their friends and/or public) may have access to it also.

Once you tag a person on a photo, that photo has just become slightly more public, depending on their settings.

Your private image may end up appearing on somewhere and even worse still, made public. All without you even knowing about it.

Timeline and Tagging

Who can add things to my timeline? - You have the ability to control who can add things to your timeline. It is recommended to set this to friends and then also set it up so that you need to approve it before it displays.

Who can see things on my timeline? - The recommended setting is friends. If you want to see how your profile page appears to others (based on your settings) select ‘View As’ and if there is anything that displays that you are not comfortable with, you can return and adjust the settings, or alternatively delete the content altogether.

Just remember some content may already be visible on the newsfeeds of your friends so deleting it will only prevent it from appearing again.

How Can I manage tags? - One of the common ways people share content and news on Facebook is to tag another person. You have control over whether you allow yourself to be tagged, and if you do, who you allow to tag you. You an also ensure that if someone does tag you, that you can review, approve or remove the tag before it is actually active.

Another important setting that is often overlooked is limiting who can see your ‘Friends List.’ Navigate to your Timeline and click on your friends box or link. Click the Edit button on this screen to access this setting.

It is best to set this to Only Me. If you have a friend that loses their account to a hacker, this can limit the damage they can do with fake Facebook profiles and the like. (Always block or unfriend a compromised account until it is reclaimed by your friend.

Facebook Apps

Every single app that you choose to use and authorize on Facebook has access to your private information. Your name, username and profile and cover pictures are always publicly available, even to apps, so choosing which apps you authorize is not a decision to be taken lightheartedly.

Apps You Use

In this area you can see every single app currently connected to your profile plus who will be able to not only see your connection with the app, but also see any posts or updates that the apps initiate.

Scroll through the list and remove any that you are no longer using.

For those remaining, select edit on each one and make sure that you are comfortable with the information it claims it will post and the information it has access to.

Apps Others Use

Any of the apps that your friends use can also access your personal information. In this section, you can select which pieces of information your friends' apps can access. It is recommended to untick every box.

App Settings
App Settings

Placing your Facebook profile on friends only settings will not only protect you but your friends too and will go a long way to preventing undesired people from viewing the account. Make sure you get your friends and family connected to you to restrict their own settings too.

Whilst it is good practice to schedule regular maintenance on your privacy settings, there are still things you can when the moment arises such as removing tags from photos that you no longer want to be tagged in.

Since your profile and cover pictures are made public by default (previously discussed) you can choose not to use a personal photograph.

For most of us, we do not realize how important our privacy is until we feel that it has been invaded. A recent situation that has caught a lot of people all over the world off guard is the appearance of their personal photos on Facebook generated community pages.

Don’t wait for that moment to come. Make sure you think ahead and do all the hard work now.

Other Area Worth Addressing

  • Mobile Settings - If you want to receive notifications via text message you need to enter it here. It is important however that you make sure that you do not allow your phone number to be made available to others.

Quick Tip: Check with your mobile phone network carrier as receiving SMS messages of this mature may cost money. Whilst Facebook does not charge to send them your mobile carrier may charge to receive them.

  • Payments - If you are a game fanatic and you make in-app purchases of credits it is highly recommended that you do not store information here so make sure you remove any credit cards or funding sources linked.
  • Blocking - There may be times when you want to block specific Facebook users. This will restrict them from being your friend, and from interacting with you. The only exception is if you are both members of an app or play a Facebook game. You can also block apps so that they can no longer get non-public information about you.
  • Notifications - The notification settings allow you to be informed (or not) about things that happen on Facebook including groups you are a member of and pages you manage. You can change the settings for a particular group and or page to be different from another so they can be as individual as you want them to be. Or if you do not want to be bombarded, simply turn your notifications off.


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