Ever wonder who can see what you’re up to on Facebook? If you hit “Like” on your friend’s post about something controversial, do you need to worry about a coworker or boss seeing it? It seems to me that many people are not aware of what is and what is not viewable by the public on Facebook. So I’d like to help clear that up for you.
In a nutshell: Who can see what I’m doing?
To sum it up for the article skimmers out there:
- Anything that you comment on or “like” that is viewable to the public (a status, picture, etc.), can be seen by everyone. You can tell that the status/picture is public by the globe icon under the status/picture.
- You can control who sees your posts on your own timeline. Before hitting the “Post” button, click on the drop-down menu to the left of the Post button to select who can view your posting. Here are some of your options:
Public: Everyone can see this post. Everyone can see your friends comments. Everyone can see who likes your post.
Friends: Only YOUR friends can see this post. Comments and likes can only be seen by YOUR friends.
Friends except Acquaintances: Same as “Friends”, but people listed in your Acquaintances group will not be able to see the posting.
Only me: These posts cannot be seen by anyone. They are for your eyes only. (I use this setting for the apps that ask “Who can see posts made by [app] on your behalf?”)
Custom: You can select who can see or who cannot see your post.
The Icons and What They Mean
When you are thinking of hitting “like” or posting a comment on a status or picture, be sure to check the icon under the status/picture. This icon will tell you who can see your post or who can tell you “like” something.
The Globe: EVERYONE can see this post. If you make a comment, your friends, your friends of friends, and even those with no link to you whatsoever, can see what you are saying. It will show up on your friends Ticker (the scrolling updates on the right of the screen). It may show up on your friends smartphone FB app’s newsfeed.
Example: You follow a page that asks a question such as “Where do you hide your hide-a-key at home?” You think, these people don’t know me, so it’s harmless to share my amazing hiding spot that other people might want to use as well!! So you respond “My hide-a-key is under the fourth brick of my front flower garden.” Guess what?? Now all your friends can read where your key is hidden. So can your friends of friends - so if your ex’s new girlfriend is doing some digging, guess what she now knows?? You have to be very careful with what you say or do when it comes to public posts. You never know who may come across it!!
Silhouette of Two Heads: Anyone that is friends with the person posting the status or picture can see what you say. But your friends won’t see your comment/like, unless they are also friends with the original poster.
Example: Your friend posts: “I need ideas for Mother’s Day gifts. What did you get your mom this year?” You respond: “I bought my mom a gorgeous sapphire ring!” Unless your mom is friends with your friend, she will not see what you post.... However, a word of caution: Friends of your friend can see the post, so if your brother is friends with him, and he can’t keep a secret to save his life, guess what secret he now knows??
Silhouette of Three Heads: This means friends of friends can see the posting. If you think about it, that means a lot of people you don’t know can still see what you are saying.
Example: You’re friend posts: “I hate my boss.” You respond: “Same here! I hate my boss with a passion!!” You think you are safe because you do not have any coworkers as friends. BUT, it’s a small world. What if your friend is friends with another mom from her child’s daycare; and what if that mom is friend’s with your boss’ wife. Your boss’ wife can see your post saying how much you hate her husband.
Gear Wheel: This means that the audience is customized by the poster. You may never know who is included or excluded. It could just mean that it’s public except for his mom. So even though you don’t see the globe, it might still be viewable by everyone in the world with the exception of his mom.
The Bottom Line
Anything you comment on or “like” on Facebook could potentially be seen by people you don’t know. Likewise, it could be seen by people you DO know, even if you don’t want them to see it. So keep an eye out for the icons on posts and pictures before you say or do anything. Along these same lines, keep an eye out for the icon on your own posts and pictures to be sure you are only including people you want to include in your audience for that particular status update, picture, shared link, etc.
- All of the information above is strictly my interpretation of the privacy information available from Facebook via the following link: https://www.facebook.com/help/privacy?ref=contextual
- As Facebook is notorious for updating/changing things without telling the users, the above information may not be accurate in the future, so be sure to check the privacy information on Facebook regularly.
- I am not an employee or an affiliate of Facebook; I’m just a Facebook user that happens to notice when friends are posting things that they may not realize are public.