Reference Guide: Managing Your Online Presence

Facebook Privacy: Limit What the Public Sees About Your Profile

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Once you’ve added a friend, they can see your profile and timeline. What about the public – those that are looking you up on Facebook? What do you want them to see?

There is much flexibility here. You can determine how much you want to share or not share. Some basic information will always be available. Your name, current profile photo, cover photo, and account URL are all visible by default, and that privacy cannot be changed. Facebook set it that way.

You can, however, hide your Friends list, your public groups, and other items as well from public view. To change those items, see the procedures in this topic.

Check Your Public Profile

When you’re using Facebook, you can’t always see what the public sees when looking at your profile. There’s a way to do so, however. Follow the steps below to see what displays for the public. It’s best to check this on a desktop or laptop using the steps listed above. I searched through the Facebook privacy settings on a phone and Facebook directs you to look at it on a computer.


1. Open your timeline.
2. Cover photo area > Eye button next to Edit Profile button > View As

Information displays that is visible to those in the public who are not your Facebook friends. Review it all. If there are posts you’d like to remove from public view, delete them or change the audience so they’re no longer public. If there is information such as your friends list or groups that you’d prefer to keep hidden from the public, you can change settings to do so. Unfortunately, settings to do so are in different places, so it can take some digging to find them. Here are some places to find the settings and change them.


  • Profile and cover photos will always be visible. These are public by default and cannot be changed. However, you can remove photos you’ve previously used for your profile if you’d like. To do so, open your Profile Pictures or Cover Photos photo album and delete those pictures.
  • Any photo album that you have made visible to the public will also be visible here. To hide them so only friends or some designated group can see them, go into each photo album individually and change the privacy settings.

Hide Your Friends List

By default, your friends list displays to everyone. You can change that, though. For example, you can designate that only your friends see it, or those on one of your lists, or just you. Here’s how to change the setting:

1. Open your timeline.

2. Scroll down to the Friends box.

3. In the upper right corner of the Friends box, select the ellipsis (three dots).

4. Select Edit Privacy.

5. In the Friends List section, select a privacy option from the drop down list. Then click the X in the upper right corner to close the box.


By default, everyone can see your public groups. You can change that by hiding them through the About tab. When you hide groups, all are hidden, not just your public ones.

Hide Your Groups

1. Open your timeline.

2. Menu beneath your profile image > More > Manage Sections.

3. In the Manage Sections dialog box, uncheck the Groups box. If you’d like, make other selections to determine what information to display.

4. Save.

Unhide Your Groups

To display your groups on your profile, complete these steps.

1. Open your timeline.

2. Menu beneath your profile image > More > Manage Sections

3. In the Manage Sections dialog box, select the Groups box so a checkmark displays. If you’d like, make other selections to determine what information to display.

4. Save.

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