Skip to content

How to Make your Facebook Account Private

Private Facebook Account

2018 Update - with all the massive changes and controversy at Facebook at the moment (in the light of the Cambridge Analytica "scandal"), it's become more important than ever to take care of the privacy settings on our Facebook accounts. Instead of. deleting your Facebook account, it is possible to lock down your account or just take some more control.


Why?

I’ve been asked many times how people can lock down their Facebook account and make it private. Why? Not everyone wants to be on Facebook, but they want to be involved in groups or perhaps keep tabs with what family members or friends are up to.

Since the early days, Facebook has come a long way when it comes to privacy and security. They really do give us so much control over our data and privacy. Some might say, they give too much control - because it ends up being far too complicated for most people to figure out.

So, that’s how I came to write this article. It is written for people who don’t really want to be on Facebook, but...

  1. Manage a Facebook page or group
  2. Be involved with a group or community on Facebook
  3. Follow the posts of certain friends or family members

It’s also for people who are just paranoid about Facebook, but still want to use it.

As for me, I love Facebook, but I understand the concerns. I’ve not locked down my Facebook account anywhere near as much as what I am suggesting in this article. However, I want to make it easy for you if you do.


How!

If you don’t have a Facebook account...

  1. Go to Facebook. Sign up for an account. If at all possible, use a private email address that you don’t use elsewhere. We’ll make sure Facebook doesn’t allow people to find you via your email address, but it’s best to be on the safe side. If you use GMail, you can add a "+" symbol followed by a word (before the "@" symbol). This in effects gives you lots of different email addresses for the same account. For example [email protected] will receive the same emails as [email protected] or [email protected].
    You do need to enter your proper name, as creating a fake account goes against Facebook’s terms
  2. I can’t recommend this, since it goes against Facebook’s terms, but if you select the oldest possible date for your birthday, Facebook won’t be able to target you so much with specific ads:
    Sign up to Facebook
  3. Confirm your email address. If you used a GMail address, it will ask you to connect to GMail.
    Confirm Email address
  4. Once you confirm your email address you can move on. Click OK...
    Confirm Email
  5. Facebook will ask you if you want to add some friends. Just ignore and click "next":
    add-friends

If you already have a Facebook Account, you can start here…

Click on the little white downwards triangle to the right of the top menu. Then click "settings":

Facebook Settinga

Click Privacy on the left menu:

privacy-settings-and-tools

 

 

Future posts

If you never intend to post to Facebook, then it is a good idea to lock down your future posts. That way, if you accidentally post something, no one will ever see them. You do this by changing the privacy settings for all future posts to "only me".

To do this, click "edit" to the right of "Who can see your future posts?".

Then click the blue button (which probably will say "Friends") and select "Only Me". You may need to click "more" at the bottom to see this option:

who-can-see-my-stuff

Previous Posts

If you’ve already posted to Facebook in the past, you have the option to change the privacy settings for all of these. Please note, this is a "nuclear" option and will change all your previous posts in one go. The only way to reverse this, is by going through each post one by one.

If you want, you can choose this option to hide all your previous posts so that only your connections see them (i.e. not public or "friends of friends"). Unfortunately, this won’t change the privacy settings for previous posts to "only me".

To do this, click on "Limit Past Posts". You will then get a warning message - then click the "Limit Past Posts" button:

Limit Past Posts

Facebook really wants you to be sure at this point. If you really are sure, click the "confirm" button:

limit-past-posts

Being Contacted

You can’t totally stop being sent friend requests, but you can change the setting so that only "friends of friends" can send you a request. If you don’t have any Facebook friends, then effectively this will stop you from being sent friend requests.

Click "edit" by "Who can contact me?" and change to "friends of friends":

who-can-contact-me

Being Looked Up

Facebook makes it easy for people to find you from your email address. This is why, if you want to be private on Facebook, it is so important you use a separate email address.

However, to make sure, you can restrict the people who can look you up with your email address to just your Facebook friends. If you’re already connected with them then that’s fine, and basically anyone else won’t be able to find you. If you don’t have any Facebook friends, then again, no one will be able to find you via your email address.

Click on "edit" by the option "Who can look you up using the email address you provided?". Then change to "Friends":

who-can-look-me-up

If you needed to give Facebook your phone number, then you’ll also need to change the setting for people being able to look you up from your phone number.

To do this, click "edit" by the option "Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?" and select "friends":

phone-number-look-up

Stop being Searched

By default, Facebook allows search engines such as Facebook and Google to visit your profile and list it. You’ll want to disable that.

Click "edit" by the option "Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your Profile?". Then uncheck the box by "Allow search engines outside of Facebook to link to your Profile". Then click "Turn Off" in the warning window.

Timeline & Tagging

You may want to control whether or not people can post to your timeline and whether you want to be tagged in a post. To be private, you’ll want to switch all of those off.

Click on "Timeline and Tagging" in the left menu:

timeline-and-tagging-settings

Stop people posting to your timeline

To stop people posting to your timeline, click "edit" by "Who can post to your timeline". Change to "Only Me":

add-to-timeline

Review tags

You can’t stop people tagging you, although if you don’t have any Facebook friends and locked down your account it’ll be near impossible for them to do so. That being said, it’s good practice to switch on the "review tag" feature. With this switched on, if people do tag you, you’ll need to accept the post before it appears in your timeline.

To do this, click "edit" by the "Review posts that friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline" option. Then click on "enabled":

timeline-review

Other Timeline settings

It’s now a good idea, to go through the following settings and lock them down..

Who can see things on my timeline:

  • "Who can see posts you've been tagged in on your Timeline?" - change to "only me"
  • "Who can see what others post on your Timeline?" - change to "only me"

How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions?

  • "Review tags people add to your own posts before the tags appear on Facebook?" - change to "enabled"
  • "When you're tagged in a post, who do you want to add to the audience if they aren't already in it?" - change to "only me"
  • "Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?" - change to "only me"

Advertising Settings

As I am sure you’re aware, Facebook makes its money from advertising to us. I personally don’t mind ads if they’re relevant to me. However, from a privacy point of view, you may want to lock down the settings so that Facebook won’t track you so much and tailor the ads to you.

To do this, click on "Adverts" in the left menu:

facebook-adverts

To lock things down as much as possible, change the following settings:

  • "Can you see online interest-based adverts from Facebook?" - change to "No"
  • "Can your Facebook ad preferences be used to show you ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies?" - change to "No".
  • "Who can see your social actions paired with adverts?" - change to "No"

Advert Preferences

If you’ve been a long time Facebook user, you may be surprised what Facebook thinks it knows about you! By default, Facebook tracks what you like, interact with and visit and it comes up with a selection of your "interests". It’s worth looking at these. Click on "edit" by "Manage the preferences we use to show you adverts" and then "Visit Advert Preferences":

facebook-advert-preferences-button

Check the keywords under "Interests" and the advertisers listed under "advertisers" and see if they are relevant. You can edit these and make them more relevant or just delete them all. If you’ve just created a Facebook account or previously locked things down, you may not have any:

advert-preferences-interests

Lock down your profile further

We’re getting there, but there are still a few options we may want to tweak. If you don’t intend to have any Facebook friends or update your profile in anyway, this is optional, but it is still worth looking through to make sure you’re happy with everything.

To edit your profile, click your name on the top menu and then click on "about":

edit-profile

If you’ve only just created a Facebook account, you won’t have anything in here, except for your name and date of birth. The default privacy settings is for everything to be shared with your Facebook friends.

If you want everything hidden, unfortunately you’ll need to go through everything, edit, and change to "only me".

Here are some examples…

Contact information...

Click on "contact and basic info" in the left menu. For each bit of information click on the edit link on the right (this will be hidden until you hover over the line). Then click on the privacy icon and change to only me, then click "Save Changes":

edit-profile-privacy-settings

Other details to change

Here is a list of details in your profile you may want to change:

  • Work and education
  • Places you’ve lived
  • Email
  • Mobile phone
  • Date of birth

If in doubt, just don’t add the information. If Facebook doesn’t know your details, no one else can.

Friends

By default, everyone can see who your friends with. To change this, click on "Friends" in your profile, then click on the edit button (The pencil icon on the top right), click on "edit privacy".

You can then change "who can see your friend list?" and "who can see the people you follow?" to "Only Me". Then click "Done".

friends-privacy


That’s it!

You’re pretty much done at this point. However it is worth saying that, you’ll never be able to be totally private on Facebook. That’s not what a social network is about, or what the internet was built for. However, if you follow the points in this article, are careful what you post and you don’t give Facebook too much information, then you’ll have locked things down as much as you can!

guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

50 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Karen

Hi Ian, I have a rather unusual question. I have a FB account but I do not share it with my husband because he and our son do not speak and he does not want me to have contact with him. Therefore, I just avoid letting him know I even do much in FB. But…..someone told him about FB Marketplace and he loves to look at it, but cannot contact anyone regarding items he is interested in because he doesn’t have a FB account himself. I want to set him up with a private one because if not private then he will see all my friends and my posts and know I have had some communication with our son. Strange, I know, but that is life when we choose not to forgive. Do you think that I can set him up with an account and trust that he will not receive friend requests? I really would like him to be able to connect with his old friends and our family too, but I just feel it is too risky at this time. Suggestions please!!!

Michael O'Brien

Hi guys long story short i need to open a new facebook account because i closed my old one to keep the peace my partner was forever asking me who i was talking to or she would say why are you talking to those arse holes you don’t even know them that’s because i joined the O’Brien clan and most of them live overseas and i would like to keep in touch with them also even though my partner and myself don’t live together she comes up once every two weeks and stays for a few days so i would like to set up a facebook account were she cant see or access but i leave my laptop on all the time so if i am up the back yard more often than not when i come in she will be on my laptop looking to see what i have be up to so being a older person i am not that computer literate i don’t know how to hide a facebook account or anything like that i hope somebody out there can help me cheers

Ash Gup

Suggest also adding two private email addresses which allows you to remove the cell phone number. Also, if you lock down the profile but facebook manages to find friends based on other info while setting up the account (had my phone number at first but removed it later), you can individually remove the friend suggestions from the list of Welcome page, Find Friends or suggested friends. I don’t want the app to suggest any friends.

Marie Maclennan

Hi, I’ve set up a Private Group on Facebook on behalf of my workplace, but as I set it up and am one of the administrators I’ve been informed that those who have joined the private group can now see my own personal profile and private Facebook page. Obviously I would like only to post/respond anonymously on behalf of management -help!

Angela

Hi Ian, I’m trying to set my see your about info to “only me” Can you please help?

Billy

Hi Ian thanks for this article, but i have a little challenge i don’t know why i am getting friend suggestions from people who are my friends already. And its really annoying is there a way i can stop that? ❓ ❓

Neil

How do I restrict all my photos in FB? I never created albums, so any category whether it be mobile uploads, I want to make them all private. Can this be done?

Sue

I found this very helpful and user friendly. I am now a 105 year old woman with no friends, interests Or likes of any kind!! I needed to join to follow the Faceboook page my voluntary organisation has.
Thanks a lot!

Laura

Hello, is it possible to keep your personal page completely (or as much as possible) private but still manage a group page that is public?

Laura Morland

Hi, Ian Anderson Gray! A different Laura here, asking a related question. I am an administrator for a new Facebook page for my church here in Paris. (I am American, but I volunteer here.) Another person set it up who didn’t understand how Facebook works, and she’s asked me to take it over for her. So 48 hours ago I set up a page off the account she set up, and last night my pastor asked me to make the account private… but obviously we want the page to be public. I made the account as private as possible, but now when I search for the page online, it too is invisible!

So… how to make the account private, but the page public?

(The account had already attracted 50 friends, and I sent invitations to all those friends to like the Page, and 20% have done so so far. But I’m concerned that only those who were already friends can see the Page. When I search for it from a Facebook account in a different browser, it doesn’t show up at all!)

Jon

Hi Ian. If I set up a Facebook account and do all the things you mentioned in your article, what happens when someone randomly does a search within Facebook for my name? Will they see that I have an account, even though they can’t reach out to me?

Jimmy

Hello, thanks for the article. I would like to use the private groups and brows the marketplace but have my profile as inactive to friends and family. Is this possible or will I have to create a secondary secret account for this purpose?

Janette MacDonald

I want to set my privacy so the no one but my friends can look at my profile. I d9nt want strangers to be able to see anything about me..like groups that I like or follow.

sue

Hello
Try as I might I can’t post in a group without it ending up on my page for all to see. I have clicked only me in privacy but it keeps showing. I intend to change it back to friends once I have had a response but it’s driving me bonkers! Any help would be appreciated.

Tye

Hey Ian ? I’ve been trying to create a fb to create fb ads only without having to put any info about me personally… everytime I do fb ends up deactivating the account when they ask for photo verification what should I do?

Rick

Hello Ian ,
Thx for the info , I am only interested in selling my stuff : cars , RV, and smalls . Will these settings allow me to use Marketplace Effectively? Market place has devastated all other platforms of sales in my area with the possible exception of Ebay . (CL and Let go are a joke !)

Rick

Thanks Ian,
That makes sense …. I always figured the reason Marketplace overtook CL is because users can see a profile on the person they are considering transacting with . AS for why CL can’t improve on their formula after all these years…. beats me !

Elle

Well, the moment Facebook instructed me to verify my account via phone number (or else not allowing me to use my new account), phone contacts immediately became suggested friends. So I started blocking certain people I do not want to see my profile. Facebook then locked my account after requesting my photo for verification. Ah, I thought I had beat the system haha!

Meike Engelmann

Hi Ian, thank you so much for this article – it was exactly what I needed! I refused to use Facebook until now (lots of reasons) but finally gave in and signed up yesterday because I am doing an online course and wanted to join the private Facebook group of all the students. I followed all your steps and was happy with the result. But Facebook was not. 😉 It seems that protecting your privacy is a very suspicious activity and my account got blocked three hours after I signed up! I received the dreaded (I did not even know this existed!) “photo upload request” – let’s see how that goes… not sure what photos they are going to use for comparison? Again, I did everything you mentioned in your article and after that I just uploaded a cover photo and followed two official Facebook pages (an author and a TV series). But it seems that is not considered normal by Facebook! I just wanted to let you know. 🙂

Elle

Hi Meike! Did Facebook eventually let you log back into your account?

Jason Clark

Hello Ian, this is a very good article. I would like to present another solution. Sidenet.com is a social website for meeting new people, not for dating. It is specifically focused on data privacy – does not collect any secret data, does not reveal activities to other users, no targeted ads, no tracking.

Jason Clark

Thank you. Full disclosure: I have contributed much to its creation, so I am biased. Facebook will definitely be around for a long time, but it uses drastic information handling techniques – it has become not safe to touch anything. Facebook has also become a mass-market tool – everyone wants to spread ideas or sell something.

See

Thank you!

Danica

thank you

SMM Buz

Today facebook is a great social media platform to increase your popularity and also increase your product sell because these days 99% user daily using it. and also facebook is very easy communication palace and connect with friends and family, every user easily can advertise your product, but now days instagram is another great social media platform to getting famous and popular with buy Hug number of followers on instagram profile….

Instagram

Facebook Is Really An Important Social Media Platform These Days. We Are Using This Social Media Platform On Daily Basis As It Is Becoming More An Addiction To User’s. But These Days Instagram Is Getting More In Minds Of User’s. People Are Buying Instagram Followers. Trying To Get On Top Of Their Competitors.

mary jane

thanks!

jame colline

The Importance of Social Media Marketing for Sales and ROI 1. Social media marketing will get you more sales. Did you know that 70% of business-to-consumer marketers have acquired customers through Facebook? Or that 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions? Not surprisingly, when you stay in front of your customer base, they’re more likely to buy from you when they need the products you sell. Social media marketing doesn’t just keep your company’s name in front of potential buyers, but it also gives you the opportunity to constantly give them incentives to buy. Try sharing coupon codes, with a unique code for each social channel – you may be surprised at which social network drives the most sales. 2. You’ll find customers you didn’t know existed. If you set up streams to follow keywords in Twitter (Hootsuite makes this simple), you can find people who are looking for the products you sell and direct them to your site. Using Twitter for marketing is great that way – telling people who want your products how to get them from your company is just an @ away. 3. Customers you didn’t know existed… Read more »

Joe

Hi Ian, great article!

I worked in digital marketing for two years, specializing in social media, so I guess I know my stuff! I love the detail you went into here; you really covered everything! There are a heck of a lot of blogs out there telling people how to jazz up their profile and get involved, but not nearly so many for people who want to sign up but not get directly/publicly involved. You’ve filled an important gap in the market!

I do have a question, though. Do you have any problem (morally, I suppose!) with Facebook’s advertising methods? You mention here that you don’t really mind them, but personally I’m a little uneasy about how they gather users’ personal information and effectively sell it to advertisers without explicitly telling users that’s what they’re doing. Do you have any views on this?

Again, great article. You’ve got yourself a new regular reader!

Joe

Anja Skrba

Thanks for this Ian, this is quite useful thing to know! I’ve shared it with my followers!

MG Rain

Hi

How to make Facebook group privacy more public than private ???