Block Strangers From Finding You in Search on Facebook

Control who can interact with you and see your posts

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Block Strangers from Finding You on Facebook. PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images

Facebook offers privacy settings you can use to control who can find or contact you on the social media site. There are a lot of privacy settings, and Facebook has changed them numerous times as it refines its approach to users' control of their information. If you don't know where to find these privacy settings, you might miss them.

Change Your Privacy Settings

There are several levels of privacy you'll want to consider when adjusting your visibility on Facebook. First, open the Privacy Settings and Tools page by following these steps:

  1. Click the down arrow in the top right corner of the Facebook top menu.

  2. Select Settings from the drop-down menu.

  3. Click Privacy in the left panel menu of the Settings screen.

This page is where you can adjust the visibility of your posts, as well as your profile's visibility in searches.

Privacy Settings for Your Posts

Posting on Facebook makes you visible, and for those who see your posts and then share them, your visibility becomes more widespread and more likely to be discovered by strangers. To counter this, you can change who can see your posts.

In the first section called Your Activity, click Edit next to Who can see your future posts? This setting only affects posts you make after making changes here. It does not change settings on posts you've made in the past.

In the drop-down menu, select who is able to see your posts:

  • Public. This is the one you do not want to use if you want to hide your posts from strangers.
  • Friends. Only your friends can see your posts.
  • Friends except. You can select which friends should not be able to see your posts. All your friends will see your posts except those you choose here. When you have made your selections, click Save Changes.

Click More at the bottom of the drop-down menu to see these next two options.

  • Specific friends. Select those friends you want to be able to see your posts. Only those selected will see your posts; all other friends will not see them. When you have finished selecting friends, click Save Changes.
  • Only me. This setting makes your posts invisible to everyone but you when you're logged into your Facebook account. You might use this if you plan to expand on a post later and aren't yet ready to publish it; when you're ready for others to see it, you can then change the privacy setting to a different setting.

Finally, to see this last option, click See All at the bottom of the drop-down menu.

  • Custom. This allows you to fine-tune the visibility of your posts. Under Share with, you can enter people or lists of people you want to see your posts. Under Don't share with, you can enter people or lists of people you do not want to see your posts.

Users won't be alerted when you have excluded them from seeing a post.

If you tag a person in a post, but that person is not among those you have set as able to see your posts, that person will indeed be able to see the particular post in which you have tagged him or her.

The setting Limit the Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline will allow you to change the privacy settings on those posts you've made in the past. Any posts you've made that are Public or visible to Friends of Friends will be restricted to only your friends now.

How People Find and Contact You

This section allows you to control who can send you friend requests and whether you show up on Facebook searches

Who can send you friend requests?

  • Click Edit next to this setting. You will be presented with a drop-down menu with two options. Everyone allows strangers to send you a friend request. Friends of friends only allows people to send you a friend request if they are already a friend of someone on your friends list.

Who can see your friends list?

  • Click Edit to open the setting. You will have a dropdown that will allow you to pick who can see your friends list. You will have the option to pick Custom here with the same options as described above in the Privacy Settings for Posts section.

Who can look you up using the email address you provided?

  • Click Edit to open the setting. You can select from a drop-down who is able to perform a search for you using your email address. The options are Everyone, Friends of Friends , and Friends.

Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?

  • Click Edit to open this setting. It has the same drop-down options as the email search option above.

Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?

  • Click Edit. Here is a far-reaching privacy setting you will want to consider. There is a checkbox at the bottom: Allow search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile. If this is checked, when people search for your name on Google, for example, the search results can include links to your Facebook profile.
  • If you uncheck this box, search engines will stop linking to your profile. This change will not have immediate results; it will take time for your profile to be dropped from the various search engines, as these are outside of Facebook's direct control.

Blocking a Stranger Who Contacts You

If you receive a communication from a stranger, you can block that person from future contacts.

  1. In the same Privacy Settings and Tools screen you use to change privacy settings, click Blocking in the left panel.

  2. In the Block Users section, add the individual's name or email address to the field provided. This selection prevents the individual from seeing things you post on your timeline, tagging you in posts and images, starting a conversation with you, adding you as a friend, and sending you invitations to groups or events. It does not affect apps, games, or groups in which you both participate.

  3. To block app invitations and event invitations, enter the individual's name in the sections titled Block app invites and Block event invites.

Using Custom Lists

If you want very specific privacy controls, you may want to set up custom lists on Facebook that you can use in the following privacy settings. By first defining lists and placing your friends into them, you will be able to use these list names when selecting who can see posts. Then you can curate your custom lists to make small changes to visibility.

For example, you could create a custom list called Coworkers, and then use that list in privacy settings. Later, if someone is no longer a co-worker, you can remove them from your custom list called Coworkers without having to go through the privacy settings steps.