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 Facebook private and protect your information.

These instructions apply to the desktop version of Facebook.

A Facebook logo behind a pull-down window shade on a computer monitor
Lifewire / Nusha Ashjaee

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 see your posts.

To get to the Facebook Privacy Settings and Tools screen:

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

    The Account icon on Facebook
  2. Select Settings & Privacy in the drop-down menu.

    Settings & Privacy in Facebook
  3. Choose Settings.

    Settings on Facebook
  4. Select Privacy in the left pane.

    The Privacy tab in Settings
  5. The first item listed is Who can see your future posts. If it says Public, select Edit and choose Friends from the drop-down menu.

    The Edit link next to "Who can see your future posts?" on Facebook
  6. Select Close to save the change.

  7. 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 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" button

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 the Facebook settings or on your profile page.

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

    The Edit button next to "Who can see your friends list" on Facebook

    

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

    You can also customize 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.

    Who can see your friends list? settings in Facebook
  3. Alternatively, go to your Facebook profile page. Go to the Friends tab under your cover photo.

    Select your name from any page on Facebook to get to your profile page.

    The Friends tab on Facebook
  4. Select the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner of the Friends screen and choose Edit Privacy.

    The More button and Edit Privacy command on Facebook
  5. Select an audience next to Friends List and Following.

    The Edit Privacy screen for Facebook friends
  6. Select the X icon to save the changes and close the window.

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 on Facebook
  3. Turn off the toggle 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 added to Facebook. 

    To edit an item instead, select the pencil icon.

    A toggle switch on the Edit Details screen on Facebook

How to Make Your Profile Invisible to Search Engines

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

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

    The Account icon on Facebook
  2. Select Settings & Privacy in the drop-down menu.

    Settings & Privacy in Facebook
  3. Choose Settings.

    Settings on Facebook
  4. Select Privacy in the left pane.

    The Privacy tab in Settings
  5. Next to Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile, select Edit and clear the check box that allows search engines to see you on Facebook.

    The Edit option next to "Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile" on Facebook

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 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 a specific post. Options include Public, Friends, and Only Me, along with Friends except, and Specific friends.

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

Change Privacy Settings on Photo Albums

When you upload photos to Facebook, you can change the photo privacy settings by album or by individual image.

To edit the privacy setting for an album of photos:

  1. Go to your profile and select Photos.

    The Photos tab on a Facebook profile
  2. Select the More menu next to the album you want to change and choose Edit album.

    The Edit Album command on Facebook
  3. 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.

    The privacy setting button for a Facebook album