How to Use Facebook’s Privacy Shortcuts - dummies

How to Use Facebook’s Privacy Shortcuts

By Carolyn Abram

There are actually so many settings related to privacy on Facebook that it can sometimes feel overwhelming. That’s why the Privacy Shortcuts menu comes in handy. It helps direct you to the settings you’ll want most often by asking the questions you’ll ask most often:

  • Who can see my stuff?

  • Who can contact me?

  • How do I stop someone from bothering me?

To open the Privacy Shortcuts menu, click the lock icon next to your profile picture in the left sidebar (remember, you may have to hover over the left sidebar to expand it). Click any of these three options to expand more privacy options.


Who can see my stuff on Facebook?

You can adjust the privacy for each status or post you make, which means that over time you might find yourself asking, “Wait, who can see all of this? Who can see what I posted yesterday? Last week? What about if I post tomorrow?” Well, the answers can be found here.

Facebook offers you one setting you can adjust here, named Who Can See my Future Posts. It’s described this way to emphasize that whatever you select here will be the default going forward, until you change it again. Click the little arrow to change this setting. You will see the same options you see from the Share menu: Public, Friends, Friends Except Acquaintances, Only Me, and Custom.

Additionally, the Who Can See my Stuff section offers you two links to help you double-check and understand what people can see. The first is a link to Activity Log, which is a granular summary of everything you’ve done on Facebook and who can see that thing. As you look through your Activity Log, you can change who can see it, or remove the content entirely.

Finally, the Who Can See my Stuff section offers you a link to another privacy tool, the View As tool. This tool allows you to look at your Timeline as though you are another person. You can use this to double-check what people see when they search for you on Facebook.

Who can contact me on Facebook?

A common Facebook problem that sends people scurrying to their privacy settings is getting a message or Friend Request that they don’t want to get. It might be from a spammer or just someone you don’t know. This section is to help you control which messages you see and who can send you Friend Requests.

The first option in this section provides the filtering options for your Messages Inbox. Facebook Inbox automatically sorts your messages to prioritize ones from friends. The two filter options are

  • Basic Filtering: This is the default filter option. It shows you messages from friends, as well as messages from people Facebook thinks you might know. That could be friends of friends or other people Facebook’s algorithms have determined you might know. These messages will all appear in your Inbox.

  • Strict Filtering: This filter option means the messages from friends of friends and people you may know go to a separate section of your Inbox where you’re not as likely to see them.

Regardless of what you choose, some messages will always go to the Other Messages section of your Inbox: messages Facebook thinks might be spam or those in which you have no connection whatsoever to the person sending it. The Strict filtering option just means you never get a message from someone you don’t know in your main box.

The second control in this section concerns who can send you Friend Requests. There are only two options: Everyone and Friends of Friends. Everyone means that everyone who searches for you or finds your Timeline can add you as a friend. Friends of Friends means someone has to be friends with one of your friends before he’s allowed to request you.

How do I stop someone from bothering me on Facebook?

Sadly, sometimes a friendship isn’t really a friendship. If someone is bothering you, harassing you, bullying you, or in any way making your Facebook experience terrible, blocking might be the solution to the problem. Blocking is different than unfriending someone because someone who is not your friend might still wind up interacting with you on Facebook.

For example, if you have mutual friends, you might wind up both commenting on the same post. Blocking someone means that as much as possible, neither of you will even know that the other person is on Facebook. You won’t see each other’s comments, even if they’re on the same person’s photo. They won’t be able to send you messages, add you as a friend, or view your Timeline.

If you’re the parent of a teen, this can be a very handy setting to know about. Unfortunately, bullying can sometimes spread to Facebook from the classroom, and blocking can be a useful tool in terms of keeping your child safer on Facebook.