Caitlin writes: I’m okay with Facebook automatically sharing my gender, location and profile picture (among other things) but I want to make sure that “everyone” does not have access to my personal photos.
From what I can tell (and according to one of my students who looked me up!) it’s all too easy to browse through all of the photos that I have posted or been tagged in.
Is there a way to limit what “strangers” or the public see when they search for me? Thank you!
Hi Caitlin! As with everything on Facebook, the visibility of your uploaded snapshots depends entirely on your privacy settings—and yes, there’s a lot of privacy settings to consider. Then there’s the photos uploaded by others that you’ve been tagged in, which is another can of worms.
Your very first step should be to see your profile as others see it. Go to you profile page, click the “View As” button in the top-right corner, and then type in a friend’s name or click the “public” link.
Are any photos visible that shouldn’t be? If so, time to start tweaking your privacy settings. And if now, well … you should probably review your photo settings anyway.
So, let’s go through the three main types of Facebook photos, starting with…
1. Your profile picture
Your main Facebook profile picture is visible to anyone and everyone, both on and off Facebook, whether you like it or not. That said, you can always change your photo to something less identifiable, or even remove it altogether.
To do so, just go to your profile page, hover your mouse over your profile picture, and click the “Change Picture” link that appears.
2. Your photos and videos
Any snapshot or video you upload to Facebook gets its own privacy setting, starting with your default sharing preferences in the Privacy Settings menu. To review or change your default sharing settings, click the little arrow in the top-right corner of the page, select Privacy Settings, then select either Public, Friends, or Custom under the “Control Your Default Privacy” section.
Now, what about the privacy settings for the pictures you’ve already uploaded? You can check by going to your profile page and clicking the Photos link in the left column; then, go to the top Your Photos section and click Photos.
See the little icons beneath each of your photo albums? Click ‘em to see or change the privacy settings for each individual album or video, from “Public” to “Only Me.” To do the same thing for your videos, go back to your Photos page, then click Videos under the Your Photos heading.
3. Photos in which you’ve been tagged
There’s nothing you can do to stop other Facebook users from uploading pictures of you and tagging them with your name. That’s Facebook for you.
That said, you can control which tagged photos of you actually appear on your profile, as well as who can see the tagged photos of you that are already posted to your Facebook wall.
So, first things first. Go to the Facebook Privacy Settings (click the arrow in the top-right corner of any Facebook page and select Privacy Settings), then click “Edit Settings” next to “How Tags Work.” In the pop-up that appears, check or change the setting next to “Maximum Profile Visibility of posts you’re tagged in once they’re on your profile,” and choose anything from “Public” to “Only You.”
You should also check out the tagged snapshots of you that already are posted to your Facebook wall. Go your your Facebook profile, click Photos in the left column, and go through the pictures posted under “Photos and Videos of You.” See anything you don’t like? Click the photo, then click the “Remove” link next to the checkmark labeled “On your profile.”
Of course, clicking “Remove” only takes a given picture down from your profile; you can’t delete the tag, or the image itself. However, you can request that you be untagged from the photo by clicking the “Report/Remove Tag” link.
Last but not least, you should enable Facebook’s Profile Review setting, which lets you review any newly uploaded pictures tagged with your name before they’re posted to your profile; here’s how to do it.
Hope this helps, Caitlin—and if any Facebook users out there have more suggestions, let us know in the comments.
Bonus tip: While Facebook reveals your name, gender, and profile picture to everyone, you can keep your location private. Go to your profile page, click the Edit Profile button, and select “Basic Information” in the right column, then click the privacy icons to restrict who can see your hometown and current city.