When it comes to Facebook, most of us will have a contacts list covering years and even decades of our lives — recent acquaintances among people we’ve known since high school, neighbors we saw yesterday right next to old family friends we haven’t seen since we were much younger.
Whatever you think about Facebook, there’s no doubting its reach, and with billions of people on the platform it’s important that you’re contactable only to the people that you’d like to hear from.
The good news is that Facebook has plenty of tools and options to help you with this, and we’ve outlined the most important below. This is best done in a desktop web browser, where you can easily access all of the relevant Facebook settings.
Limiting Who Can Find You
If other people can’t find you, they can’t contact you. If you go to the Facebook Privacy Checkup page and choose How people can find you on Facebook, you can go step by step through the relevant settings. With friend requests, for example, you can allow anyone on Facebook to ask to be connected to you, or limit it to friends of friends — that means only those people who already know someone you’re linked to will be able to send you a friend request.
You can also set whether people can find you via your email address and phone number. (If your details are in someone’s phone contacts, Facebook might suggest you as a friend to them.) If you want to, you can keep these details private, so no one can find you via these pieces of information.
The final option in this particular section of the Facebook settings lets you decide whether you want your profile to be visible on search engines. If you’d rather your Facebook profile didn’t pop up when someone types your name into Google, turn off the toggle switch next to Do you want to search engines outside Facebook to link to your profile? before clicking on Next to review your settings.
Limiting Who Can See What You Share
If other people can’t see what you’re sharing on Facebook, they can’t comment on it or react to it. Every time you post something on the social network, you get what’s called an audience selector menu — the drop-down just above the area where you compose the message that you want to post.
From the Facebook Privacy Checkup page on the web, you can click Who can see what you share to choose what the default setting is for this audience selector. If you want your posts to be seen only by a certain group of people, or by everyone on Facebook except for a few contacts, you can configure this here.