How to make your Facebook profile private

October 1, 2013 Kevin DeShazo Social Media Education Tags: , , , 0 Comments

People want access to student-athletes. Whether it’s following them on Twitter, friending them on Facebook, or calling them. But what access should be allowed? When you ‘friend’ somebody on Facebook, you allow them to see a significant amount of personal information, including: email address, phone number, birthdate, friends, relationship status, family history, calendar of events. – not to mention every picture and video you appear in.

If you don’t know somebody, they have no right to view your personal information. It’s my personal strategy to not friend anybody on Facebook that I have not met in person. If you want to connect, follow me on Twitter. That’s as much access as you need until I determine otherwise.

It’s something we tell student-athletes in our social media education sessions. On private social media platforms, don’t friend/add people you don’t know. There’s no award handed out for the person with the most Facebook friends.

Some schools monitor their student-athletes’ social media activity, while others outsource it to firms like us. It’s an understandable strategy, but shouldn’t cross the line of invading privacy. With our monitoring service, we never access private information of student-athletes. Never.

Delaware, California and New Jersey have passed laws to prevent this, and other states are not far behind.(UPDATE: Oregon, New Mexico, Arkansas, Utah, Illinois, Michigan have now passed similar laws)

When it comes to monitoring, ask yourself, “Would I be ok with this if it were my 19 year old daughter being forced to friend and/or give some random company access to her private information?” The answer, of course, is no.

The problem is that most student-athletes simply don’t understand the available privacy settings or their rights. They should never be asked or forced to give access to their private accounts. For Facebook, here’s how they can make their profile private.

Note: this post has been updated to reflect Facebook’s rollout of Graph Search, effective October 2013

First, login to Facebook, click the on the padlock that now appears at the top right. This brings up the new privacy controls menu.

First up is “Who can see my stuff?”

Updated Facebook Privacy Controls


Under “Who can see my future posts?”, select the “Custom” option. Then click on “Custom”, opening up a drop down menu. Click on “Custom” in the drop down menu, pulling up this box:


The default setting is for “Friends of those tagged” to be checked. This means that if you tag a friend in a post of picture, the post/picture shows up in their timeline, giving access to all of their friends (that you may not know). This is the option that recently tripped up Randi Zuckerberg…sister of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg. To prevent this situation from happening, uncheck the “Friends of those tagged” box. This way the post only shows up on your timeline, and the timeline of the friend you tagged.

You’ll know you’ve set this up correctly, when you go to post a new status and it shows “Custom” as who your post will be shared with.


Next up in this section is your Activity Log. In the box that asks, “Where can I review all my posts and things I’m tagged in?” click on “Activity Log”. It takes you here.

Facebook Activity Log


Click on “Next”, then click through the different options below to see who can see what on your timeline. Use “Shared with: Public” and “On timeline: Visible” to see what posts are visible to the public (anybody on Facebook, whether or not you are Friends with them). Do the same thing for “Shared with: Friends of Friends”.


See a post or picture you don’t want shared? Or has somebody tagged you in a picture or post that you don’t want to be tagged in? Change/delete it.


Now let’s go back to the Privacy Controls Menu – click on the padlock at the top right.

Up now is “Who can contact me?”


Decide who you want to be able to send you messages on Facebook. Friends? Everyone, Friends of Friends, or just your Friends. It’s up to you to decide what is appropriate in terms of who can contact you.

The next decision is who you want to be able to send you friend requests. Do you want anybody on Facebook to be able to request you, or just Friends of Friends? Again, it’s up to you to determine what is appropriate, but we suggest Friends of Friends.

Up next is preventing somebody from bothering you/blocking somebody. This section is self-explanatory. Don’t want somebody seeing your posts or interacting with you, put in their name or email address.


Now go back to the Privacy Control menu (the padlock) and click on “See More Settings” at the bottom of the menu. This will give you a good overview of your settings and allow you to make additional changes.


In the first section, select “Limit Past Posts”, the third option in the section. A small warning box pops up (don’t worry about it) – click on “Limit Old Posts” in the warning box. A box pops up asking if you are sure (you are) – click Confirm. Now only your Friends will be able to see old posts. Again, you may need to go through and unfriend some people. Especially if you’ve added people you don’t know.

In the 3rd section, make sure the “Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?” setting to Off. This makes sure that your Facebook information doesn’t show up in a Google search.

Now let’s look under the “Timeline and Tagging” tab, on the left.


In the 1st section, make sure the “Review posts friends tag you in before the appear on your timeline?” setting is On. This make sure that any time somebody posts a picture, video, or status update and tags you in it, you’ll get notified and have the opportunity to approve or deny your name being attached to it. This is an incredible important setting.

Now that you’re done, go back to the Privacy Settings Menu (padlock at the top right), select the “Who Can See My Stuff?” drop down, then select the third option: “What do other people see on my timeline?” This will allow you to view your profile and timeline as the public sees it. Click on your Timeline, About, Photos, Friends and more. See information in any of these tabs that you don’t want to be public? Go in and change the settings. For contact information, we would recommend making it visible to only you (your friends already know your phone number and email address). For school and relationship info, you might be more comfortable with that being public.

For most, this is enough. 5 to 10 minutes can save/prevent a lot of headaches. That said, implementing these settings don’t give you an out to post inappropriate things on Facebook. Somebody can always take a screenshot of it and re-post it. (This is another reason to choose your Facebook friends wisely).

If necessary, go through and un-friend people. It will take some time, and you might upset some people. If they get upset, you’ve probably made a good decision by un-friending them.

Administrators and coaches, it’s important to sit down with your student-athletes and make sure they understand the importance of these settings. Print this off and hand it out to them. Email it to them.

There is no reason for them to friend the media, random fans, or anybody else that they don’t know. It’s ok to say no to people. Especially people that have no right accessing their information.

Have questions? We’re always here to help.

Fieldhouse Media is a firm dedicated to helping student-athletes and coaches use social media in a positive, appropriate way through education and monitoring. To find out more about us or to join the over 70 schools utilizing our services for their athletic department, contact us today.

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