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- You can use Facebook’s Privacy menu to limit who can see your posts, profile, and more.
- Setting every option to “Only Me” will make your Facebook profile completely private.
- You can also set up reminders to update your privacy settings using the Privacy Checkup tool.
Facebook is still the biggest social media platform in the world. But while it’s convenient for connecting with friends or colleagues, it also holds more of your personal data than you realize. If you don’t have the right privacy settings, a lot of that personal data might be on public display.
While you can’t control the advertisers and other outside companies that Facebook chooses to sell your information to, there are ways to ensure that other Facebook users can’t see your information unless you want them too.
Here’s how to make your Facebook private.
Quick tip: You have two faster, easier options to make your profile completely private without tweaking individual settings: Deactivating your Facebook account hides most of your information, but leaves you the option to reactivate your profile whenever you want to. You can also delete your Facebook account. It’s a more extreme measure since it’s permanent, but still the best way to pull your data off the site.
How to make your Facebook private
Facebook generally has four levels of privacy that you can set your account and posts to:
- Public means that anyone with a link can see it, even if they don’t have a Facebook account.
- Friends means that only people on your friends list can see it. You can even exclude certain friends from seeing a post, too.
- Friends of friends means that anyone who you share a mutual friend with can see it.
- Only me means that it’s totally private, and you’re the only one who can see it.
If you want to make your Facebook as private as possible, you’ll want to choose Only me whenever you can.
While some of Facebook’s privacy tools are available in the mobile app, you’ll need to open Facebook’s desktop version to find all of them.
To get to Facebook’s Privacy menu:
1. Open the Facebook website and log into your account. If you’re not sure how to log into your Facebook account, we’ve got step-by-step instructions for that too!
2. Click your profile picture in the top-right corner, and then select Settings & privacy in the menu that appears.
3. In the submenu, click Settings.
4. On the Settings page that opens, click Privacy in the left sidebar.
This will open the Privacy Settings and Tools page with more options:
Make your posts private
First, head to Your Activity section to change who’s allowed to see your posts, posts you’ve been tagged in, and pages that you follow.
- Click Who can see your future posts? to change the privacy settings for everything you post from now on.
- Click Who can see the people, Pages and lists you follow? to change who’s allowed to see what you’re following.
- Clicking either Review all your posts and things you’re tagged in or Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or Public? will take you to a new page where you can edit the privacy settings on changes you’ve already uploaded.
Hide your profile so people can’t find you
If you’re concerned about who can find and view your Facebook profile, the How People Find and Contact You tools can help keep you hidden.
- Click Who can send you friend requests to limit the amount of people allowed to friend you. Just note that you can’t turn friend requests off completely — the best you can do is limit them to mutual friends.
- The Who can see your friends list? option can hide your friends list, so people can’t see who’s in your network.
- Both Who can look you up using the email address you provided? and Who can look you up using the phone number you provided? options can make it so even if someone already has your contact information, they won’t be able to find you on Facebook.
- Clicking Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile? lets you hide your profile from Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines. This is useful if you’re worried about people finding you by googling your name — just note that it can take a few days to process.
Stop people from messaging you
Using the How You Get Message Requests section, you can limit who’s allowed to message you. You can also choose to receive certain messages but filter them into their own folder, away from your inbox.
- Under Potential Connections, choose where messages from people who have your phone number and/or mutual friends go. You can choose Chats (your regular inbox), Message requests (a separate folder), or Don’t receive requests (deletes them).
- Under Other people, make the same choice for people you’re not connected to and Instagram users. Here, you can’t choose to receive their messages in your regular inbox — you have to choose either Message requests or Don’t receive requests.
How to make specific Facebook posts private
The options we talked about above control your entire Facebook account. But you can also set specific privacy settings for individual posts. This means you can keep your Facebook profile private but make a single post public, and vice versa.
1. When you’re creating a Facebook post, click the dropdown button under your name.
2. In the menu that opens, select how private or public you want the post to be.
Once you post, only the audience that you choose will be able to see it.
How to set up privacy check reminders on Facebook
It’s easy to forget to update the Facebook settings mentioned above as your privacy needs change. Luckily, through Privacy Checkup, you can set reminders that periodically alert you to review them.
1. Open the Facebook website and log into your account.
2. Click your profile picture in the top-right corner of the screen, and then select Settings & Privacy in the menu that appears.
3. In the submenu, click Privacy Checkup.
4. On the next screen, click the three horizontal dots and select Set up reminders.
5. In the pop-up, select when you want Facebook to remind you to do a privacy check, and then click Save.
Jennifer Still contributed to a previous version of this article.