Controlling Facebook Privacy Settings of Posts by Email

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All you need to post to Facebook is a way to send an email — and your secret Facebook upload email address, of course.

While you can put words in the subject and message and attach photos or videos to the message, the email has no field to specify the all-important Facebook privacy settings. What if you want to make sure you're not posting that image of yourself covered in a thick raincoat and the hair soaking wet in front of an old railway depot on which one can, through the downpour, barely make out the words "SANTA SUSANNA" for all the world to see? It never rains, after all, in California.

Fortunately, you don't have to specify any privacy settings for Facebook's default options to apply to what you send by email. The default settings can be set on the road or, with more finely grained control, on the desktop and allow only friends access, for example, or restrict uploads to yourself until you make the visible more widely.

Control the Privacy of Posts and Photos Sent to Facebook by Email

To set default privacy for Facebook updates, photos and videos posted by email on a mobile device:

  • Visit Facebook Privacy Settings.
    • If you are not logged into Facebook, use the Email or Phone and Password fields to sign in.
  • Click or tap the desired privacy settings under Control Your Default Privacy:
    • Public — anybody can see posts, photos and other uploads for which you do not specify separate privacy settings.
    • Friends — people you've friended on Facebook can see your posts by default.
    • Custom — get access to two more settings for who can see what you put on Facebook without further privacy settings:
      • Friends of Friends — people you've friended can see your posts as can their friends.
      • Only Me — by default, everything you posts is private and visible only to you.

To configure the privacy settings for posts and uploads shared without specific privacy instructions (sent by email, for instance) in Facebook's desktop version:

  • Click the triangle in your Facebook's top right corner.
  • Select Privacy Settings from the menu that comes up.
  • Pick the desired privacy settings under Control Your Default Privacy:
    • Public — anybody on the web can access your posts, photos and other uploads by default.
    • Friends — only your Facebook friends can see posts and uploads.
    • Custom — specify exactly who can see what you post on Facebook without dedicated privacy settings:
      • Friends of Friends — by default, people you've friended and their Facebook friends can see what you send and publish.
      • Only Me — everything you posts visible only to you until you explicitly make an update, image or video available more widely.
      • Specific People or Lists… — specify the exact people you want to be able to see what you put onto Facebook:
        • Start typing the person or list under Make this visible to These people or lists:
        • Pick the name or list from the suggestions.
        • To exclude somebody specifically (though they are on a list of people allowed to see what you post or may be added to a list later):
          • Start typing their name (or, of course, that of a different — black — list of excluded people) under Hide this from These people or lists:.
          • Pick the list or name to ban from accessing your posts by default from the suggestions that come up.
  • Click Save Changes.

The default Facebook privacy settings apply to all content you add without specifying separate options — when you send updates, photos or videos by email, for example.

(Updated May 2012)