Guide to Making Facebook Photos Private

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Basic Tutorial on Keeping Facebook Photos Private

Facebook photo audience selector
The audience selector button lets you choose who can see photos you post on Facebook. © Facebook

Putting photos on Facebook is easy; not so easy is keeping all those Facebook photos private.

Watch Out for "Public" by Default

By default, Facebook all too often makes photos and other material you post on the social network public, meaning anyone can see it. So your big challenge with sharing Facebook photos is making sure you limit who can see them.

Facebook changed its privacy settings in a major redesign in 2011. The new privacy settings give Facebook users more granular control over who gets to see what, but they also are a bit more complicated and can be hard to decipher.

Use the Inline Privacy Controls

For photos, you always have the option to make sure only your friends can view them by clicking the inline privacy button or "audience selector" right beneath the posting box. That button is next to the red arrow in the image above.

When you click the down arrow or button that usually says either "Friend" or "Public," you'll see a list of options for who you want to allow to see the particular photo you're posting or photo album you're creating.

"Friends" is the setting that most privacy experts recommend. It will allow only those you have connected with on Facebook to see them. Facebook calls this inline privacy menu its "audience selector" tool.

There are other photo privacy settings you can tweak or change, too. They include:

  1. Previously published photos - Facebook has a couple of options for changing the sharing settings on photos and albums previously published, as you'll see on Page 2 of this article.
  2. Tags - You should decide if you want to review any photos in which someone has "tagged" you before they can appear on your Facebook Wall. The photo tagging options are explained in greater detail on Page 3 of this article.
  3. Default Photo Sharing Setting - Make sure your default Facebook sharing option is set to "Friends" and not "Public." Click your name at the top right of your Facebook homepage, then "privacy settings" and make sure "Friends" is the default option checked at the top. This article on the default Facebook privacy settings explains more on the privacy defaults.

On the next page, let's look at changing the privacy setting on a Facebook photo after it's already been published.

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How to Make Previously Published Facebook Photos Private

Facebook photo albums
Click on the Facebook photo album you want to edit. ©Facebook

Even after you have published a Facebook photo, you can still go back and change the privacy setting to restrict viewing to fewer people or to expand the viewing audience.

You can either do this globally, by changing the privacy setting for EVERYTHING you previously published, or individually, by changing the privacy setting on each photo or photo album you've previously published, one at a time.

Change Photo Album Privacy Settings

You can easily change the privacy setting for any photo album you previously created. Go to your Timeline/profile page, then click "photos" in the left sidebar to see a list of your photo albums, as shown in the image above.

Click on the particular album you want to change, then click "Edit Album" when that photo album appears on the right. A box will pop up with information about that album. At the bottom will be a "Privacy" button allowing you to change the audience that's allowed to see it. In addition to "Friends" or "Public," you can choose "Custom" and either create a list of people you want to see it or select an existing list you previously created.

Change Individual Photo Privacy Setting

For individual photos that you posted through the Facebook publishing box, you can change the privacy settings by scrolling back through your Timeline or finding them on your Wall and clicking the audience selector or privacy button, as described above.

Change Privacy Settings for All Photos

You can select your "Wall Photos" Album, then click "Edit Album" and use that audience selector button to change the privacy setting on all the Wall/Timeline photos you've posted. It just takes one click.

Alternatively, you can change the privacy setting on everything you have ever posted to Facebook with a single click. That's a big change that can't be undone, though. It applies to all your status updates as well as photos.

If you still want to do it, go to your general "Privacy Settings" page by clicking on the down arrow at the top right of your Facebook homepage. Look for "Limit the Audience for Past Posts" and click the link to the right of it, which says "Manage Past Post Visibility." Read the warning, then click "Limit Old Posts" if you still want to take everything private, making it visible only to your friends.

Learn about photo tags on the next page.

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Tags and Facebook Photos: Managing Your Privacy

The menu for controlling Facebook tags allows you to require your approval.

Facebook offers tags as a way to identify or name people in photos and status updates, so it can link a particular user to a photo or status update published on Facebook.

Many Facebook users tag their friends and even themselves in the photos they post because it makes those photos more visible to those who are in it and easier for others to find.

Facebook provides a page on how tags work with photos.

One thing to be aware of is that when you tag someone in your photo, all their friends can see that photo, too. Same goes for when someone tags you in any photo on Facebook--all your friends can see it, even if they are not friends with the person who posted it.

You can set your tags so that photos tagged with your name won't appear on your Profile/Timeline/ Wall unless you give your approval first. Just go to your "Privacy Settings" page (click the arrow at the far top right of your homepage to see the "privacy settings" option.") Then click "Edit Settings" to the right of "How Tags Work."

You should see the popup box shown in the image above, which lists the various settings available for tags. To require prior approval of tagged photos appearing on your Timeline/Wall, change the setting for the first item listed, "Profile Review," from the default "off" to "on." This will turn on the requirement that you must first approve anything tagged with your name before it can appear anywhere in your Timeline/Profile/Wall.

It's also a good idea to change the setting to "on" for the second item--Tag Review. That way, your approval will be required before your friends can tag anyone in the photos that you post, too.