Your Guide to the New Facebook Timeline Privacy Settings

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The Timeline feature that Mark Zuckerberg announced in September is now available to all Facebook users. If you’ve already activated Timeline for your own profile, you’re probably in the midst of adjusting to the new layout and testing out the new features. But what you might have overlooked are the minor additions to your Privacy Settings, making this a perfect time to review those settings in and making sure you have the most control over who sees what on your profile.

On the other hand, if you’re thinking about creating a Facebook account for your older teen (at YoursphereForParents, we recommend age 16) Timeline can be a nice, fresh start in introducing them to responsible social networking.

To activate Timeline, log into your Facebook account and type “timeline” in the Facebook search bar up top. Select the first result and click the green “Get Timeline” button.



Recommended Settings

 If you want the most control over who sees your/your teen’s Facebook profile.

1.  From your Facebook account, click the downward facing arrow next to the “Home” button on the upper right hand corner of the screen. Choose “Privacy Settings”.




2.  That will take you to the screen shown below. Under “Control Your Default Privacy” choose “Friends”. This is a general setting that ensures that only your Facebook Friends will be able to see your status updates and photos unless specified otherwise.


FB timeline23


3.  Below that you’ll see the more specific privacy options that you can enable. When you click “Edit Settings” for either of those headings, pop-up menus will appear with all the settings you can change.


FB timeline


4.  “How You Connect” – Here you can choose who can view your timeline and other information you post, as well as who can send you friends requests and private messages.



5.  “How Tags Work” – If you want to configure your preferences when it comes to tagging in photos, places, and posts, this is the place to do it. I recommend changing your settings to the ones pictured in the screenshot below. But don’t take my word for it; make sure to read the settings and descriptions carefully before changing them.



6.  “Apps and Websites” – Covers settings related to applications, public search functions and your info that applications collect and store. You can even delete applications that you don’t want or use anymore. It’s scary how many applications you end up having on your page, especially since they all have access to your information.


FB timeline51


7.  “Limit the Audience for Past Posts” – You’ll most likely want to avoid changing this setting. Here’s why: If you made certain past posts only viewable to a certain group, like “Friends of Friends” or “Only Family”, changing this setting will override all of those past specifications and make those posts visible to all Friends.


Privacy Settings

8.  “Blocked People and Applications” – This section gives you a little more control over the people who can interact with you on Facebook. For example, you block specific users, application and event invites from specific people, and applications themselves. It also allows you to add friends to your restricted list, limiting their visibility only to information and posts that you make public.




9.  If you’re looking at your Timeline and realizing that there are a bunch of posts that you don’t want to share with the rest of the world, you can easily hide or delete these posts by clicking the pencil icon and choosing one of the two options highlighted below.




Photo Privacy

In order to determine who can and can’t see certain photos that you upload to Facebook, both mobile and web, you’ll have to configure the privacy settings for each individual album or each individual photo.

1.  Start by going to your Photo collection on Facebook.


Mary Kay Hoal
2.  There are a couple of things to point on your Photos page.

  • Albums that you’ve created can have a privacy setting for the entire album. However, you always have the option of going into an album and assigning a specific privacy setting for a specific photo in that album.
  • Individual photos that you’ve uploaded from the web or from the Facebook mobile app have their own, individual privacy setting.

Options for photo privacy settings include: Public (everyone), Friends Only, Only Me, or a specific group of people that you’ve created on Facebook, like “Family”. There are symbols that represent each of these settings.


3.  In the screenshot above, you’ll notice that my “Wall Photos” (individual photos that I’ve upload to Facebook via the website without assigning said photo to a specific album) have a little gear icon next to it. This means I have to configure the privacy settings for each photo separately, unlike the “Thanksgiving 2011” album or the “Disneyland 2011” album, which have one privacy setting for the entire album.

The same thing applies to my “Mobile Uploads”, so when you’re uploading a photo to Facebook via the mobile app, be sure to choose your intended audience before hitting “upload”. If you forget, however, you can always log in and change it later.

4. If you want to change the privacy settings for an individual photo, just click the photo and choose your audience from the drop-down menu, as shown below.



Message to parents –

If you’re using this guide to set up your teen’s first Facebook profile, I applaud you for being involved in their online life. However, if you’re thinking about setting up a profile for your underage tween or child, know that what you’re doing is encouraging your child to lie about their age to join, as well as violating Facebook’s Terms of Use and a federal law called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which is in place to protect the personal information of your child on the Internet.

Also know that Facebook is not a social network that was created with their interests and/or well-being in mind. Facebook is, and always will be, an adult-intended social network. Now, that’s not to say that your child will stumble upon troves of porn on Facebook, but the culture is one that includes scams, inappropriate games and pages that encourage cyberbullying and unhealthy behavior. In addition, there are plenty of applications, including games that collect and sell the information available on someone’s Facebook profile. This, combined with the fact that Facebook highly encourages its members to share every aspect of their life, only further supports the idea that Facebook is not meant for children—and in some cases, teens, too.

If this message applies to you, I hope you will take my advice seriously. There are plenty of kid and younger-teen focused, positive social networks out there for your child to join; Yoursphere.com is one of them. Our members’ average age is between 8 and 14 years old. Your child will be part of an online community where their safety is a priority and the content in the site supports their unique interests and talents. Please, take the time to research options like Yoursphere. These days, investing time in your child’s online life is just as important as investing time in their real life.

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  • As far as I have been able to establish, your point number 2 is actually incorrect. That setting only applies to mobile apps that don’t have the inline audience selector. If you’re updating your status on your laptop, you’ll have to double check that the audience selector is set to friends EACH TIME YOU POST.

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