Now that it’s easy to go back in time to see what you posted on Facebook, are you sure you want everything visible?
Facebook’s new Timeline feature puts every update, photo, event, and detail in your life that you’ve shared on Facebook into a reverse chronologically displayed listing. Here’s what mine looks like today:
At the top of your profile page is a “cover photo” and your profile picture. Beneath that is information about you, your work, and your relationships. After a box containing a few of your friends, you’ll find every single item you’ve ever posted to Facebook.
To make it easier for someone to zero in on a particular date in your past, they can drag a slider on the right side of the page. So if you’ve been posting on Facebook for a few years, people can go back in time to see the Halloween party photo when you dressed up like a hooker or your rant about your old boss or the details about the honeymoon cruise with your ex-husband. Intermingled with this stuff is details about your new jobs, vacations, check ins, and other life events you thought (at the time, anyway) were important enough to share with “friends” — or the public at large — on Facebook.
With your Facebook history so easily accessible — possibly to the general public (which is Facebook’s default setting for updates) — people can get a real idea of what you’re all about now and in the past. If you care at all about what people think of you, you probably want to examine your Timeline and make sure it shows only what you want to show — and only to the people you want to see it.
If you think you’re revealing a bit more than you want to in your Facebook Timeline, there are a few things you can do:
- To limit access to a specific post, click the Edit (pencil) icon at the top of it and choose one of the options that appears. Not all options appear for all items, but you can usually hide an item from your timeline or delete it. It’s interesting to note that if you’ve posted many items on Facebook that you regret — think drunk party photos or emotional rants — you’ll have to find and delete them one-by-one. (Have fun with that.)
- To limit access to all of your past posts, go into Facebook Privacy settings and click the “Manage Past Post Visibility” link. Then click the Limit Old Posts button in the dialog that appears to make old posts accessible to Friends only. Doing this prevents random individuals from seeing old posts. Keep in mind that this is not reversible.
- To limit visibility to items as you post them to Facebook, use the pop-up menu at the bottom of the Update box to choose the visibility option you want. Public makes it visible to everyone. Remember, you can also limit visibility based on lists that you create and maintain on your own.
- To set the default visibility setting for new items you post on Facebook — so you don’t need to remember to choose an option for each post — go into Facebook Privacy settings and select one of the Default Privacy options. If you choose Custom, you can specify which list can see the posts and specify people and lists who can’t see the posts. You can override this option for each item as you post it.
Keep in mind that the best way to keep details of your life private is to not share them at all — especially on Facebook.