5 Minute Facebook Privacy Checkup

Facebook privacy settings can be so confusing.  Facebook seems to change their settings frequently and the myriad of options can be overwhelming.  Recently a friend of mine realized that he had been sharing all his Facebook posts not just with his friends, but with everyone on Facebook, even though that was not his intent.  When your posts are public, there is an increased chance that you will show up in a Facebook search, and that your information can be exposed to people you don’t know.  So here is a suggested 5-minute Facebook review to make sure that you are only sharing with your friends.

We’ll do this in three steps:

  1. Review past posts
  2. Limit audience for all past posts to just friends
  3. Check your default privacy setting for future posts

Review past posts

Did you know you can go back in time (no DeLorean needed), and view every action you’ve ever performed on Facebook? It’s all part of your Activity Log.  Let’s take a look.

1. Click the Privacy Shortcut (in the upper right of the screen near your name).

2. Expand “Who can see my stuff”.

3. Notice the second option, “Where do I review who can see or find things I’ve posted or been tagged in?” with a link to the Activity Log.  The Activity Log is where you can review your entire Facebook history!

4. Click “Use Activity Log”.

Use Activity Log

The Activity Log is a really powerful tool on Facebook.  You can review just about every action you’ve ever taken on the site!   On the left side of the page are links that will filter the view.  For example you can just view your own posts, or you can view all posts you’re tagged in, or posts that you’ve hidden.  You can even break it down further to view all photos you’ve posted or been tagged in, everything you’ve liked or commented on, and more.

Activity Log page on Facebook

So you can spend a little time revisiting your Facebook history.  This is one of those never-ending pages – just keep scrolling, just keep scrolling!

You can individually edit each post in your Activity Log.  You can hide a post from your timeline or delete a post.   You can also change the audience of the post.  You might not have realized that you had shared a post with everyone (“Public”) and you want to fix that, and only share with Friends.

Post options in Activity log

Reviewing each individual post will take much longer than five minutes! So here’s how to do that all at once.


Limit the audience for all your past posts to just friends

1. From the Privacy shortcut click See More Settings.

See More Settings from the Privacy Shortcut

2. This is the page with all the available privacy settings.  If this were an article called “Comprehensive Facebook Privacy Checkup” we’d look at all of these settings; however we’ve only got 5 minutes!

3. Take a look at the part that says “Who can see my Stuff” and under that look at “Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friend or Public”.

Limit Past Posts

4. Click on “Limit Past Posts”.  Read the explanation about how this works.  Now click on the “Limit Old Posts” button.  In one click, any update you had previously shared with Public or Friends of Friends, will now only be shared with Friends.

Limit Old Posts in Facebook

You can go back and check that all your earlier posts are now shared only with Friends.

*If you had previously shared with an even more limited audience – for example if you had shared only with a certain person – that will not change.  Only the past posts with an audience of Friends of Friends or Public will revert to Friends only.

Now let’s move on to the last step of our 5-minute Facebook privacy check-up, which is to check on the privacy settings of your future posts on Facebook.

Check your default privacy setting for future posts

You can set your default privacy setting from a few different places in Facebook.  The easiest way is to click the privacy shortcut, expand “Who can see my stuff?” to reveal “Who can see my Future posts?” If this is Public but you want to limit your exposure on Facebook, change it to Friends.

Who can see my Future posts?

You can also make the same change from the Privacy page.  You’ll see the same option at the top of the page.

Who can see your Future posts?

You’ll see a message reminding you that you can change this each time you post something.  I suggest a quick glance at that setting each time you share, to make sure the audience setting is exactly what you want it to be.  If you change it once, Facebook remembers that for next time; it changes your default! So always remember to check and change it back to “Friends” if necessary.

So that’s the 5 minute Facebook Privacy checkup! How long did it take you?

About Jean

Hi! I'm a webmaster, technology educator and creator of Be Web Smart. I hope you found this article useful. If you are new here, you might like to sign up for e-mail updates, view Links and Resources on similar topics, and subscribe to the RSS feed.