Your Facebook profile (also known as your Timeline) contains a wealth of information - your birthday, anniversary, phone number, email addresses, etc. But who can see your profile? How can you lock it down so only your friends can see your email address, or only your family can see your phone number?
Did you know you can pick and choose who sees what? Are you moonlighting and you don’t want coworkers to see your Work and Education section? Do you want your phone number posted for your close friends and family, but you don’t want acquaintances to see it? This is all possible!!
WHO CAN SEE ME? WHAT CAN THEY SEE?
Before you make any changes, you can view your profile/timeline as someone else to see what is visible.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Go to your profile/timeline.
You can get to your timeline from the main screen by clicking on your name on the top left corner of the page:
Step 2: Select View As.
Near the top of your profile, on the right side of your page, you will see two buttons: Update Info & Activity Log. To the right of Activity Log, you will see a small gear icon. Click this icon, then select “View As...”
Step 3: Public view or enter friend’s name.
PUBLIC VIEW: The first page you see will be your profile/timeline as the PUBLIC sees it. This means that anyone that is not on your friends list can see everything on this screen - this includes potential employers, ex-girlfriends/ex-boyfriends, and anyone else that you don’t know or don’t want to see your profile.
WARNING: Your Name, your Profile Picture, and your Cover Photo are ALWAYS public. You cannot change this! So don’t make a picture your profile picture or cover photo unless you are okay with the whole world seeing it!
FRIEND VIEW: To see your profile as someone on your friends list, begin typing the friend’s name in the text box and select the person’s name. You will now see your profile as that friend sees it.
So if you intended to hide your phone number from a crazy ex-girlfriend, and it shows up on this page, she can still see it!!
HOW CAN YOU CHANGE WHAT IS VISIBLE?
So what if you don’t want your ex seeing your new phone number? Or what if you don’t want the public seeing your email address?
Here’s how you can change what is seen on your profile/timeline:
Step 1: Go to your profile.
As mentioned above, you can get to your timeline from the main screen by clicking on your name on the top left corner of the page.
Step 2: Select Update Info.
Near the top of your profile, on the right side of your page, you will see two buttons: Update Info & Activity Log. Click on Update Info.
Step 3: Edit the information.
On the next page, you will see various headings, including Work & Education, Living, About You, Basic Info, etc. To the right of each heading, there is an Edit button.
This is where you can edit the information displayed in that section. You will also be able to edit who can see the information in that section.
In the example above, I am editing my Basic Info. Pay careful attention to every detail listed, as there are various customization options. For instance, in this example:
- By having the box check under “I am Female”, my sex is displayed on my profile. If I did not want people to know this information (for whatever reason), I can uncheck that box.
- Under Birthday, there is a drop down menu that allows me to select how I’d like my birthday displayed (full birthday, birthday without year, or do not display birthday).
You can further customize your profile by selecting the icon to the right of a particular detail to define the “audience” of that piece of information. This is where you can decide who sees what (public, friends, etc). Use the Custom option to be more specific (i.e. Friends except [insert crazy ex-girlfriend's name]).
For additional information regarding the audience choices (indicated by various icons), please see my previous article: Facebook Security - Are Your Comments/Likes Public or Private? (scroll down to the section called “The Icons and What They Mean”)
WARNING: Be sure to select Save at the bottom of the Edit section after making changes!
Congratulations! You can now protect your information on Facebook!!
- 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
- The above information applies to the latest (as of this writing) "Timeline" view of your profile.
- 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 take security very seriously.