With millions around the world sharing holiday snaps, announcements about significant life events, or ‘oversharing’ on Facebook, it’s important to keep track of your account’s privacy settings. A recent change by the social network means that all of your posts could now be searchable by anyone; which includes potential employers, partners, or those with an eager interest in your activities. Thankfully it isn’t hard to put this right with a quick visit to the settings menu on your smartphone or PC.
Facebook posts: What can people actually see?
Unless you have specified that your posts are only viewable by Friends, then everything you post on your timeline will now be searchable. This isn’t as scary as it initially sounds, as the principle behind it is a little more constructive than simply revealing your love of Ariana Grande to the world. The reasoning, at least the stated reasoning from Facebook, is that it wants users to see conversations that are happening around the world related to certain events.
Say for example you want to find out more about the recent tragedy in Paris, by searching on Facebook you’ll not only see the related posts from your friends, but also others happening around the world. The principle is to give users the chance to experience and engage with the discussion in a deep, real-time way across a global audience. The idea is sound, but if you don’t want your thoughts and images available to complete strangers from the four corners of the globe then you can opt out in a couple of minutes.
How to make Facebook posts private on a PC
Load up Facebook on your PC then click on the padlock icon in the top right corner of the screen. You’ll see a drop-down menu appear with Privacy Check-Up at the top. Below this is a menu entitled Who can see my stuff? Click on this and check that under Who can see my future posts? the option is set to Friends. Now anything you put on your timeline will not be open to the search engine.
You may have noticed that the menu option was only for things in the future: what about all those posts from the past few years? To change those you can go to the menu below Who can see my future posts? which bears the rather long title of Where do I review who can see or find things I’ve posted or been tagged in? and click on the Use Activity Log link. In here you’ll see a listing of all your posts, and you can manually change their status. This is a rather long and painful path though, so a quicker route is to instead go to the bottom of the Padlock drop-down menu and click on See More Settings.
On this page you’ll see a similar Who can see my stuff? section, with the added option to Limit Past Posts. Click this and you’ll be asked if you really want all your previous posts that were available to Friends of Friends or Public, to now be reduced to the Friends only setting. Click the box at the bottom of the message entitled Limit Old Posts and your history will now be obscured from the global search engine.
How can I make Facebook posts private again on a smartphone?
The process is basically the same on your phone or tablet as it is on a PC. First of all load up the app, then tap on the three lines option in the top menu bar. Scroll down until you see Privacy Shortcuts and tap that. Now tap on Who can see my stuff? and make sure that the option for Who can see your future posts? is set to Friends.
Next tap on the More Settings option at the bottom of the screen, select Privacy, then tap on the Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or public? option and tap Limit old Posts. From now on your posts will remain private, until of course Facebook comes up with another brilliant idea.