As you may have heard, Facebook just opened the floodgates when it comes to internet stalking. Yesterday, the company announced that Graph Search will now be able to pull up all of your old statuses, photo posts, check-ins, and basically any other post you’ve ever made on the network. Before, Graph Search was really limited to being able to cull information based on your likes and basic personal information. Now it’s serious – now your boss can find that status you made about being super hungover on New Years Day. You know, the day that you called in and told him that your beloved cat Fluffy had just been mauled by a bear. Yikes.
The post search functionality is currently rolling out to users with Graph Search (which includes everyone in the U.S.). It’ll take a while before it reaches all users, which means you still have a chance to hide most of your old posts from the prying eyes of the public – if that’s something you’re interested in.
In order to protect yourself from inevitable pain and embarrassment, there are a few ways you can tackle this.
The Nuclear Option
Well, the closest thing Facebook has to a nuclear option. If you’re looking to drop a bomb on all of your once-public posts, Facebook actually lets you do this. Here’s how.
First, you’ll want to access the security quickbar that Facebook unveiled a few months ago. It’s located on the top-right of your blue bar.
There, you’ll see an option to “see more settings.” Click it.
What you’ll see next is an expanded privacy dashboard with a subcategory called “Who can see my stuff.” There be the goods. The third option says you can “Limit past posts.”
If you click that, Facebook will instruct you that “if you use this tool, content on your timeline you’ve shared with friends of friends or Public will change to Friends. Remember: people who are tagged and their friends may see those posts as well.”
Basically, what you’ll be doing is limiting the audience of all your past posts to just your friends, and friends of those who were tagged in the post. If you select that option, Facebook will give you one final warning that lets you know that this is irreversible (or at least a huge pain in the ass to reverse):
If you change your mind in the future, you’ll have to go through all of your old posts and manually make all of them viewable to the public.
The Surgical Option
If you’re looking to simply make a select status or two unfindable to the public, this is your best option. In that same area, just above the “limit past posts” option, you’ll see a link to your Activity Log.
Your Activity Log gives you granular control over pretty much every thing you’ve ever done on the site – all posts, shared links, comments, and even every little thing that you’ve liked. It’s here that you can mess with the privacy settings on individual posts. Don’t want your boss finding that one post from last New Years?
Turn that status to “friends,” “only me,” or “custom” visibility.
Or, if you want to be really careful, you can just delete the post in its entirety.
What about my future posts?
Of course, you’re not done making posts on Facebook – that would be ludicrous! So how do you conceal your future posts?
Once again, in that same privacy control dashboard, you can change the option for “who can see your future posts.”
And as always, you can take it step-by-step – just select who you want to see each of your posts as you post them. Remember, Facebook lets you do this.
When Facebook first unveiled Graph Search, I said that it was pretty much the end of privacy by obscurity – unless you took all the steps necessary to make yourself as untraceable as possible (by all means shy of simply deleting your Facebook account). With the new post search within Graph Search, the problem has gotten much worse.
But Facebook isn’t trying to pull one over on you. They offer highly-detailed privacy options for nearly everything you do on the site. It’s just up to you to make use of them.
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