Privacy settings on social media are there for a reason—so use them! Despite how much of a privacy wall you build for yourself, however, there is some information on social media that you can’t hide from the public. Knowing and accepting that this information is visible is just part of participating on the platform. Here we will specifically look at public information on Facebook and what information other users are always able to see despite privacy settings.
Public is a label
Keep in mind that “public” is an actual label assigned to posts and other information on Facebook. This is opposed to posts/info that can be seen by “friends only” or “friends of friends only,” or even just by the user, for example. By definition of its label, “public” is just as it sounds—anyone on or off Facebook can view the information.
Public information on Facebook
Facebook uses information contained in your Public Profile “to help connect you with friends and family,” according to the platform. This information is always public and includes your:
- Profile picture and cover photo
- Language and country
- Username and user ID (located in the URL of your profile)
- Age range
- Listed networks (school, workplace, etc.)
Using the audience selector
In addition to the information that comprises your Public Profile, posts you make on Facebook can be marked “public” and therefore visible for all to see—but you do have control over this. Facebook’s audience selector tool allows you to designate the audience to which your content is visible. The selector tool appears below your name when you go to make a post. Click the drop-down arrow to select from the audiences below.
Keep in mind, when you select an audience for a post, Facebook will use the same audience for any subsequent posts unless you change the audience again. In addition, if you change the audience on one of your devices on which you are signed in to your Facebook account, it will change across all devices on which you are signed in to the same account.
What if I don’t see an audience selector?
If an audience selector is not visible on something you shared, then that information is by default public information on Facebook. That means it may fall into one of the categories of information that is always public.
Things other people share
By nature of social media, you are interacting and sharing content with others. That means that you are not always fully in control of what information stays private. For example, if other people share content about you, they can choose to make it public. If you privately share content with them, they also have the power to make it public. If you comment on someone else’s public post—guess what? It’s public. Just be aware of what you are sharing with whom when using social media.
Having a grasp of what constitutes public information on Facebook is important for protecting your online privacy and promoting responsible social media use. It’s a social platform, but you still may want to regulate how far your “social circles” expand.
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