Facebook Timeline: Make Old Posts More Private

Home page cover background

So. Facebook finally rolled out its much-anticipated Timeline feature for everyone, which brings a snazzy new interface to your profile, not to mention the ability to see every post anyone’s ever made back to their first day on Facebook. Every. Single. One.

Last year we introduced timeline, a new kind of profile that lets you highlight the photos, posts and life events that help you tell your story. Over the next few weeks, everyone will get timeline.

You can get the Timeline feature right now, but Facebook gives you seven days to adjust the look of your timeline before it goes public. Chances are, you’ll want to tweak a few things before you publish it.

The one big downside to the Timeline layout is that you can easily see every post you’ve ever made or received on Facebook. All anyone needs to do is go to a certain year on your profile and click the “All Posts” button. For some of you, that means posts you made when you were in college (or high school) – and I don’t need to tell you how embarrassing it can be to look at some of the things you used to say in school.

You have two choices here, and unfortunately neither is very ideal. You can go through your timeline and hide or delete individual posts by clicking the pencil icon, but depending on how long you’ve been on Facebook and how active you are, this could take forever.

Alternatively, if you have any old posts that are public or shared with friends of friends, you can change the privacy of all those posts to “Friends Only” with one click. It won’t hide those posts from your friends, but it will at least keep everyone else on Facebook from being able to browse every post you’ve ever made public. Click the arrow next to the “Home” button in the upper right hand corner of Facebook. Head to Privacy Settings, then scroll down to “Limit the Audience for Past Posts”. Click “Manage Past Post Visibility” and click the “Limit Old Posts” button. This will make all your past posts visible to Friends Only.

Going forward, all posts you make will be subject to the same privacy settings you had before—so if it was set to Public, every post you make after hitting “Limit Old Posts” will still be public.

Again, this feature isn’t perfect, since those posts will still be visible to all your friends, but it’s up to you how deeply you want to cultivate those old posts that everyone now has easy access to. Remember, though, you have 7 days before the Timeline goes public, so if you did want to dig in and go through every year, you could at least spread the work over a few days.

But really, it IS Facebook. Nothing is truly private, so use at your own risk.