[Updated January 2016]Recently I’ve been asked the same two questions by several people…

I’m often asked the same two questions by several people…

“How can I stop Facebook posts that I comment on appearing in my friends’ news feed?”

and

“How can I stop my posts being seen by friends of my friends?”

In some cases, the question arose after they’d seen this fake viral post that does the rounds in Facebook now and again, and scares many people.

Facebook Visibility Settings hoax message

If you do happen to see this post (or any other post saying the same thing) in your newsfeed, please do ignore the message and don’t share it. If you see your friends worrying about what it means, send them to this blog where they can learn how post visibility really works in Facebook.

How is the visibility of Facebook posts determined?

The ONLY person who can determine how visible a post from a personal profile will be is YOU… when you originally write the update!

In Figure 1 you’ll see the status update box showing the section where you select your preferred visibility settings.

FB Visibility setting

Figure 1: Set Your Preferred Post Visibility

Public visibility means that your posts can be seen by:

  • All of your friends in their newsfeed
  • All of your followers in their newsfeed
  • Their friends when one of your friends has liked/commented on your update
  • Anyone who clicks on your profile
  • Search results for Facebook posts containing searched keywords contained in your post

Friends only visibility means that your posts can be seen by:

  • Your friends.

Even if one of your friends shares your post with friends only visibility, this will not make their post visible to anyone who isn’t your friend. If you want people to share your post, and want your post to be visible to maximum people, make sure the post visibility is set to public.

Choosing to make a post visible to any other list in the drop-down menu will enable only the people in that list to see your posts

Facebook Post Visibility - Choose your preferred visibility list

Drop Down Menu Of Available Visibility Lists

Note: these settings only apply to posts from your personal Facebook profile (add friend to connect) and open groups… not your business page (like to connect) which is always public. It also doesn’t apply to posts written in private or secret Facebook groups, as these are always only visible to group members. (Posts in open Facebook groups are publicly visible in your friends’ newsfeeds, their friends’ newsfeeds, plus anyone who visits the group.

Posts in your Facebook newsfeed:
When scrolling through your own Facebook newsfeed, check the post visibility (see images below) before you like or comment on the post.

If you don’t want the original post to appear in your friends’ newsfeed, DO NOT like or engage with any post showing the public visibility symbol

If you are happy for the original post to be seen by your friends (who will also be able to read any comments you post) then go ahead and like/comment on any post with public visibility.

Public Visibility Symbol

Public Visibility Symbol

Friends Only Visibility Symbol

“Friends Only” Visibility Symbol

How Visible Are Your Facebook Posts And Comments?

  • Any comments/likes/posts you make on your friends’ personal profile with “friends only” visibility will NEVER appear in your friends’ newsfeed unless they are also friends with the original poster.
  • Any comments/posts/likes you make on a business page will ALWAYS be visible to your friends in their newsfeed.
  • Any comments/posts/likes you make in an open group will ALWAYS be visible to your friends in their newsfeed.
  • Any comments/posts7likes you make in a closed or secret group will NEVER be visible to your friends ANYWHERE unless they are also a member of the group.

When you ask for help or shares from the Facebook community at large:

There will likely come a time when you want your post to be shared and seen by as many Facebook users as possible; perhaps because your dog or cat has gone missing and you want help to find them.

In these circumstances, not only should the visibility of your post be set to public, you should also ensure that you have allowed comments on your posts from all users.

I’ve seen so many posts where the original poster needs help, but hasn’t allowed comments from anyone other than their friends. So while they’ve made the post visible to everyone, only their friends can comment – which totally defeats the object of posting in the first place!

To allow comments from all, go to account settings in your personal Facebook account (a lock icon in the blue bar)> see more settings > followers > who can comment > everyone.

Don’t want anyone to know you have engaged with a particular post? Make your comment privately to the original poster by using the “messages” function.

For more info on using Facebook lists to tighten up visibility of your posts, please take a look at this article from Mashable

If you’ve got any questions around post visibility, please pop them into the comments area below and I will respond