How to Make Facebook Private

Basic privacy setting recommendations for Facebook

By default, Facebook tends to make everything you put on its network public. Facebook critics see this as an invasion of people's right to privacy. However, it's easy to make changes to protect your information.

These instructions apply to the desktop version of Facebook.

Illustration of a facebook logo behind a pull-down window shade on a computer monitor
Nusha Ashjaee / Lifewire

How to Change the Sharing Default Using Privacy Settings and Tools

One quick way to lock down everything you post moving forward is to set your default sharing option to Friends and not Public. When you make this change, only your friends can see your posts.

To get to the Facebook Privacy Settings and Tools screen:

  1. Select the arrow in the top-right corner of any Facebook screen.

    A screenshot of Facebook's home page with the settings arrow highlighted
  2. Select Settings in the drop-down menu.

    A screenshot of Facebook with the Settings option highlighted
  3. Click Privacy in the left panel.

    The Privacy header
  4. The first item listed is Who can see your future posts? If it says Public, click that option and choose Friends from the drop-down menu.

    The Friends option
  5. Select Close to save the change.

    The Close button
  6. You can also change the audience for previous posts on this screen. Look for an area labeled Limit the audience for posts you've shared with friends of friends or Public? Select Limit Past Posts, then select Limit Past Posts again.

This setting changes all your previous posts that were marked Friends of Friends or Public to Friends. You can override the default privacy setting on individual posts whenever you want. 

The "Limit Past Posts" option

How to Make Your Facebook Friends List Private

Facebook makes your friends list public by default, which means everyone can see it whether they're your friend or not. You can change your preferences from Facebook settings or on your profile page.

  1. On the Privacy Settings and Tools screen, click Edit next to Who can see your friends list?

    

  2. Select either Friends or Only me to keep your friends list private.

    You can also customize exactly who can see your friends list by choosing Specific Friends or Friends Except. Specific Friends only includes people you designate, and Friends Except excludes specific people on your list.

    Friends privacy options
  3. Alternatively, go to your Facebook profile page. (Tap your name from any page on Facebook to get there.)

  4. Go to the Friends tab under your cover photo.

    The Friends tab
  5. Click the Manage button at the top of the Friends screen and click Edit Privacy.

    The Edit Privacy button
  6. Select an audience next to Who can see your friends list?

    The "Who can see your friends list?" options
  7. Select an audience next to Following. (Who can see the people and pages you follow?)

    The "Who can see the people you follow" options
  8. Click the X icon to save the changes.

How to Review Your Profile Privacy Settings

Your Facebook profile is public by default, which means it is indexed by Google and other search engines and viewable by anyone.

Privacy experts recommend you review the profile settings for each item in your profile.

  1. Select your name at the top of any Facebook screen to go to your profile.

  2. Select Edit Details in the left pane of your profile page. The Customize Your Intro box opens.

    The Edit Details button
  3. Clear the checkboxes next to the information you want to remain private. This includes boxes next to education, your current city, your hometown, and other personal information you've added to Facebook. 

To edit an item instead, click the pencil icon.

A visibility checkbox

How to Make Your Profile Invisible to Search Engines

To see what the public sees when they visit your profile, select the More icon (three dots) in the bottom right corner of your cover photo and select View as. The next screen will show how your profile looks to people who aren't on your friends list.

This view also includes what people can see who aren't even signed in to Facebook.

The View As command

You can completely block your profile from showing up in search engines. Here's what to do.

  1. Select the arrow in the top-right corner of any Facebook screen. 

    A screenshot of Facebook's home page with the settings arrow highlighted
  2. Select Settings in the drop-down menu.

    A screenshot of Facebook with the Settings option highlighted
  3. Click Privacy in the left panel.

    The Privacy header
  4. Next to Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile? select Edit and clear the checkbox that allows search engines to see you on Facebook.

    The Edit command

How to Use Facebook's Inline Audience Selector

Facebook provides audience selectors to let you set different sharing options for each piece of content you post to the social network.

When you open a status screen to make a post, you'll see the privacy setting you chose to serve as the default at the bottom of the screen. Occasionally, you might want to change this.

Select the button with the privacy setting in the status box and select an audience for this one specific post. Options include the usual Public, Friends, and Only Me, along with Friends except, and Specific friends.

The visibility settings

With the new audience selected, write your post and select Post to send it to the selected audience.

Change Privacy Settings on Photo Albums

If you've uploaded photos to Facebook, you can change the photo privacy settings by album or by individual photo.

To edit the privacy setting for an album of photos:

  1. Go to your profile and select Photos.

    The Photos tab
  2. Select Albums.

    The Albums heading
  3. Select the album you want to change the privacy setting for.

  4. Choose Edit.

    The Edit button
  5. Use the audience selector to set the privacy setting for the album.

Some albums have audience selectors on each photo, which allows you to select a specific audience for each photo.

Privacy settings