Who Can See Your Facebook Profile?

by Ron on November 16, 2009


Facebook users should have a clear understanding of their privacy settings. There have been many stories of people losing their jobs or facing public ridicule because they have left their profiles wide open allowing anyone to find them and read their content. You can easily avoid this problem by only allowing friends to see your content in the Profile privacy settings. You can also make it easy for old friends to find you, yet only expose a minimum amount of information about yourself to the public in the Search privacy settings.

Search Settings

First of all, control what you expose in public searches on Facebook (and in search engines) as follows:

  1. Click Settings > Privacy Settings and the Privacy Setting page opens.
  2. Click Search and the Search settings page opens. This page enables you to set what people can see when they perform a public search.
  3. In the Search Visibility drop-down, I recommend you select Everyone. This means anyone can see your profile, and therefore find you, but only what you allow in Step 4.
  4. What you select in the Search Result content section is a personal decision, but having a common name, I want to leave some clues about who I am, so include a profile picture, my friend list (typically only shows a few friends) and a link to contact me.
  5. I recommend unchecking the Public Search Listing check box if you want to keep your Facebook profile information from public search engines. If you’re a business, you can leave it checked, but for your personal Facebook page, I would leave it unchecked.
  6. Click Save Changes to save your changes or Cancel to exit without saving.

Profile Settings

To protect your profile information, go to Search > Privacy Settings and select Profile. Then make sure every setting is set to Friends Only. This way only people you approve can see your profile settings. If these were set to Everyone, then anyone could see your content and this is what leads to people finding information about you, you would prefer wasn’t shared with the world at large.

Now, it’s important to understand that there are exceptions here and Facebook has allowed people to see your information under other circumstances, but at a minimum, you should close your Search and Profile privacy options to expose only the information you want the public to see. We put a lot of personal information on Facebook, and it’s only prudent to make sure you maintain control as much as possible.

Graphic by Hughelectronic on Flickr – Used under Creative Commons License

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