Facebook and privacy

Published by admin on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Facebook’s approach to user privacy can be complicated. Here are three features that give you greater control over what you share and with whom.

Inline audience selector

This feature allows you to control who sees your profile, status updates, photos and more. You will see this option on just about any sharing feature in Facebook. The options vary depending on what you want to do, but typically you can select Public, Friends, and Custom.

  • Public means what you’re sharing is visible to anyone who finds your profile page, whether they are a Facebook user or not.

  • Friends lets only those Facebook users you’ve identified as Friends see what you’ve shared.
  • Custom allows you to select specific people to view what you’ve shared.

When you select Custom, there are a few additional selections you can make:

  • Friends of Friends means that any one who is connected to one of your friends can see what you’ve posted. Be mindful of this option as that could open up what you share to thousands of people that you don’t know.
  • Specific People or Lists lets you identify a subset of your Friends list to see what you’re sharing. You can go through and identify individuals, but Facebook also allows you to group your friends into lists, so that you can target your sharing to a particular group and not others. (For example, you might want to share something with just your work colleagues.)
  • Only Me means no one but you can see what you’ve posted.

From the Custom screen, you can also choose to hide content from a particular individual or list. (For example, you might want to hide something from your work colleagues!)

If you don’t select one of these options when you share something, whatever option you’ve previously selected will be automatically selected for you.


Facebook users often ‘tag’ other Facebook users in their posts. You can tag people, places and more. For example, if you attended a big family dinner recently and someone took pictures, they might post those photos to their Facebook profile and tag you in one of the photos. Basically, your name will identify you in the photo, link to your profile page, and show up in your feed. You can also tag another person’s posts. It is important to understand tagging so you can maintain control over your presence on Facebook.

  • When you are tagged in a photo posted by another Facebook user, you will be notified with a message. Open the message and you will be taken to the tagged photo.

  • Unless you select otherwise, the photo will appear in your feed. In the lower right-hand corner of the photo, next to On your profile, you can select Remove so that the photo will not show up in your feed.
  • If you want to remove the tag from the photo, further down you will see Report/Remove tag. When you click on this option, a new window will allow you to request that the tag be removed.
  • From the same window, you can report a tag as abusive or offensive. If you think a photo that you come across involves harassment, pornography, hate speech or is generally inappropriate, select the relevant option from the list provided.

View Profile As…

When you are choosing your privacy settings, it is sometimes helpful to see how a particular setting will make your profile appear to others.

  • If you want to see how what you are sharing appears to others, from your profile page just to look to the top right corner for View As…..
  • At the top of the next page type a Facebook user’s name and you can see how your profile appears to them.
  • You can also click on Public and see how your profile appears to those who come across your profile in a general search.

Return to Week 3: Social Networking.