How to: conquer Facebook Timeline privacy settings

So…you have Facebook Timeline. Now what?

The first thing you should do is adjust your privacy settings. In typical Facebook fashion, these have been made as difficult to use as possible.

Don’t worry – after some trial & error I’ve discovered 3 easy ways to control your Facebook privacy.

How to adjust your Facebook Timeline privacy settings

1. Take control of your photos

In Timeline, your previous privacy settings for photos are thrown out the window. Yes, that means that if you previously had your tagged photos invisible they’ll automatically become visible when you make the switch (or when Facebook does it for you on Dec. 22). What you see above in my Timeline is what everyone else will be able to see.

To make your photos (and other tags) invisible again, go into your Privacy Settings and then into How Tags Work

Facebook has sneakily hidden tag functionality under “Maximum Timeline Visibility”. Change this to suit your needs. I like to block them from everyone – I find this makes it easier to manage my privacy. If you choose this option, you can always add people as exceptions to this rule.

2. Set default privacy controls

If you use a mobile app to update your status or upload photos, you’re likely missing out on being able to specify your privacy settings for each post. To ensure your content is only being seen by those you want to see it, make sure to change your default privacy settings. This also keeps you from having to adjust your settings each time you post using the website. Remember: it’s easier to allow more people to see your content later than it is for people to unsee content they shouldn’t have spotted.

3. Make good use of your lists

Although lists have been around for awhile, Facebook Timeline comes with prebuilt lists. My favourite of these is the “Restricted” list.

When you add people to the restricted list, content that isn’t “public” is automatically restricted from them. That’s worth it’s weight in gold, especially if you have people you’d rather not reveal everything to on your Facebook (distant family, your boss, online-only friends, exes, etc.).

The Lists function also automatically creates lists for your coworkers and has a handy built-in list for Acquaintances, a.k.a. people you’d like to see less of on your news feed.

If you take the time to make Lists your own, you’ll have a News Feed that is easily filtered and a profile that allows you to be “friends” with someone without spilling your online guts to them.

My Timeline for a "restricted user"

As you can see, with the restricted profile nothing is really visible. Although the user can see that you have, say, 141 profile photos, they’ll be unable to click through them. Also, if you have your friends blocked only mutual friends will be visible under the friends tab.

So, there you have it. 3 steps to conquering Facebook Timeline privacy settings. Wasn’t that easy?

What are your favourite privacy tips for Facebook Timeline?

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  • Realistically the average Facebook user won’t figure this out for years and by then we’ll be on to another format. Think of how much effort we had to put into figuring this all out then think of our parents trying to do the same – wouldn’t happen. Crazy.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed. I’m not really sure why Facebook feels the need to basically force people into sharing more information than they want. Really, that seems like all these new changes are doing. It’s getting a better “user interface” and becoming more “intuitive”…but I think the real draw for Facebook is less privacy.

      I feel like the more I try to use this platform, the more effort I need to put into making sure other people can’t *see* what I use the platform for. I guess eventually we’re all going to realize that “privacy” is something that really doesn’t exist on social media – I’m at the point where I want to take everything off my Facebook and just open it up completely.

  • Thanks Steph!! That’s really helpful … and good to know before I upgrade to the timeline feature.

    • Anonymous

      Glad to help! It’s worth it to go to http://www.facebook.com/timeline and upgrade early – it allows you to edit your settings and fix up your timeline before you “publish” it or it’s forced live tomorrow.

      • Just did! And your guide helped a ton! Now to just figure out where everything is … (also, scrolling down to the beginning where it says “You were born; add a picture?” is just creepy!)

  • F. Alexis

    Just switched to the timeline format & had to dig up this post. Thanks for sharing, it’s been a great help.

    • Anonymous

      So glad it was helpful! Happy New Year 🙂