“Mirror, mirror on the (Facebook) Wall – who can see everything about me most of all?”
Have you ever wished for the ability to look into the mirror, and see yourself the way that others see you? Well on Facebook, you can! Here’s how to check what your Facebook profile looks like to friends or the public. You can do this for the “new” Timeline as well as the “old” Profile. This is an easy way to make sure that your Facebook privacy settings are doing their job.
[Instructions updated January 2013]
Viewing your Timeline as someone else
1. Click on your name to get to your Timeline, otherwise known as your profile page.
2. Underneath and towards the right of your large cover photo, you’ll see a few buttons – Update Info, Activity Log, and a little gear icon with a down-facing arrow. Click the down-facing arrow and then select “View As….”
Or use the privacy shortcut button near the top right, as shown here. Choose Who can see my stuff? And then What do other people see on my timeline?
3. You’ll now see your timeline as if you were a member of the “public”. In this case public means someone who is logged into Facebook who is not your friend or otherwise associated with you.
If you’ve set privacy settings judiciously there should not be much shown here. (If you see more information here than you are comfortable with, go back to your Timeline, click Update Info and then edit the privacy settings for any portion of your profile.)
4. Now, enter a friend’s name into the box. Once you start typing you can choose from the names as they appear. Then you can see what your timeline displays for that friend. In this case, my friend Jennifer can see anything I’ve shared with “Friends”.
Viewing your Profile as someone else
For those who haven’t taken the Timeline plunge, you can still preview what your profile looks like to others. (As I update this article in January 2013, I believe EVERYone on Facebook has a timeline now….but just in case….)
1. Click on your name to get to your profile page.
2. You may see a message about upgrading to Timeline. Feel free to ignore it, or click “Not now” to get rid of the message. (Or you could just bite the bullet and upgrade to Timeline, in which case you can use the instructions above. Timeline is not really that bad. Really.)
3. Over to the upper right under the “Home” link, click the button “View As…” (How nice of my friend Jennifer to share her screen with me!).
4. You’ll now see your profile as if you were a member of the “public”, meaning anyone logged into Facebook who is not your friend. If you want to make adjustments to privacy settings in your Profile, click Back to Profile and then Edit Profile.
5. Just like it works in Timeline, you can then enter a friend’s name into the box to experience your profile the same way that your friends do.
Why preview your Facebook profile or Timeline?
With all the changes Facebook makes, reviewing your privacy settings on a regular basis is a good idea. Some of the changes might expose information that you thought had been private. You can control who can see the information you choose to share. For example you can set up a Friends List, add friends to the list, and then use that list to restrict those friends from certain content. So to make sure the privacy settings are working, preview your Facebook timeline as someone else from time to time.