5 Things to Check Before Making Your Facebook Timeline Public

The new Facebook timeline is a beautiful work of art… and also a potential dangerous source of information for business owners and others worried about their online reputation.

If you’re just setting up your Timeline, then here are the five things you want to make sure you check.

1) Your Cover Art

The most striking new feature of the new timeline is the cover image. Adding a new cover image is an easy thing to do and can add a lot of color to your profile.  All you need to do is click on the “change cover” text (see #1 below) and facebook will prompt you to upload a photo.

2) View Your Profile as “Public”

After you upload a cover photo, go ahead and view your profile as “public.”  This will show you what anyone and EVERYONE on Facebook will see when they view your profile… and it’s easy to do.  1) Click on the little down arrow (see 2a in the image below), click on the “view as” option. 2) when the page reloads, click on the word “public” at the top of the page (see 2b).  This will show you what anyone on Facebook can see when they go to your profile.  If you’re not comfortable with any of the items, then…  on to step three.

3) Hiding things from your timeline!  (plus changing dates!)

Because the new Timeline makes all of our previous Facebook activity easy to access, there’s quite likely a few things you’ll want to hide.  (Around the office, folks were hiding embarrassing photos, crude wall posts from “friends”, and overly endearing updates with previous partners!). With unfavorable items, you can always untag, delete or simply “hide” the item from your timeline.  It’s really easy to do… Simply select the pencil icon (see 3) on the top right hand corner of the content you plan to update and select the “hide from timeline.”  This is also the option you can use to add a location to a update and/or change the date of the item, which can be great for photos posted by your family from when you were a cute kid.  :)

4) Photo Permissions

Photos get their own permission logic that’s worth understanding.  With photos posted under either “Mobile Uploads” or “Wall Photos”, you have the option to adjust permissions on a photo-by-photo basis.  For all other albums, photo permissions are done at the album level and you can easily adjust these from your photo page.   Simply look for the “icon” under the album and select the level of “sharing” that you’re comfortable with for that album (see 4).   Because I have a fairly “public” persona, I post lots of public photos, but for most people, you’ll probably want to set your settings to “friends” or “friends of friends”.

5) Sort Using Activity Log

Finally, you’ll want to check out the “activity log” for your profile. This is a helpful tool where you can look up the various status updates by type.  In other words, are you most concerned with videos?  Facebook gives you a tool to filter all your timeline updates by video posts.   Ditto for photos, posts by others, and many other options (see 5). This is a great tool for making lots of changes quickly!

At first, the new Facebook Timeline can feel quite invasive… But it’s likely that Facebook is going to turn this on for everyone at some point, so you might as well get ahead of the curve and be prepared.

And if you have any other tips for navigating the new Timeline feature, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

About Dustin Luther

As Director of Engagement at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp (@DandB), I manage our teams focused on social media and events and always looking for opportunities to engage with small business owners and influencers, both online and in-person! You can find me on Twitter (@tyr), Facebook (dluther) and Google+ (+Dustin Luther).

Do you have an interesting opportunity you'd like to get in front of the @DandB team? Maybe an interesting idea, product or story? Maybe an event that attracts small business experts? Let's talk!


  1. Nice post– my Facebook has not changed to Timeline yet, and I already have my entire personal page set to “friends” only…hopefully that gives me enough protection until I get around to looking at and going through the steps you have outlined.
    Sharing on, what else— Facebook!

    • Thanks so much Denise! Glad you found it helpful! It’s worth checking out your profile as “public” anyway (step 2), just to double check. It only takes a minute and I’ve seen more than a few folks who were surprised at what was open to the public! :)

      • Hi, Dustin!! I’m a brain cancer patient and struggling with something. please help. I want my timeline to be PUBLIC because I am doing so fabulously well fighting breast cancer!! I want to reach out to other cancer patients and offer them support and my personal fight. But i am stuck and don’t know how to make my profile public. I have selected all options putting status updates public, everything. but there is one hitch . help me please! :)

  2. Great info, Dustin! Nice graphics, easy to read and understand. Thank you for helping us.

    All the best to you in 2012,
    Fran and Rowena


    • Hi Angel,

      I assume you’re talking about a photo album, right? In that case, you can do it directly from the status update bar from your main timeline. To add a photo album, click on “photo” that’s just below the “about” section on your timeline. That should open up a menu item that prompts you to either upload a photo/video, use your webcam to take a photo/video or create an album.

      Hope that helps!

  4. This is very helpful. However, I can’t find out how to block someone/people from the entire past statuses without taking it all off my timeline one after the other. Am I making sense and can someone help? I don’t have time to go line by line to block people.

    • AP: Not sure what you mean here. What are you trying to do? I’m trying to read through the lines and guessing you want to stop one person from seeing a set of photos or something like that. Am I on the right track? because there might be a relatively painless way to accomplish a task like that.

  5. Not a big timeline fan anymore says:

    Hi, what if I don’t want timeline anymore?
    I’ve upgraded but found it too intrusive is there a way of goign back to the normal facebook layout? It’s just that people have greater acsess to allot of my information which is now making me nervous that so much of my information is out there!

    Thanks so much-your tips were useful, but I don;t have the time to restrict much of my stuff!!!

  6. Kora Lynn says:

    can someone I blocked see my “public” profile?

    • Kora Lynn says:

      Never mind … I found the answers. Sorry :p

      Let’s make a clear list of how blocking a Facebook user works:

      1. If I block a person on Facebook, will he still be able to see any of my info?

      -> No, blocking users stops them from being able to see if you’re going to the
      same event as them, from following links to your name (like
      photos) and from seeing anything about you. You can’t search for them and they can’t search you. Facebook removes every link to your page when you block that person.

      2. If I block someone on Facebook, will it remove all his or her comments from my wall?

      -> No, you will have to manually delete them if you need.

      3. If I block someone on Facebook, will it remove all our past private conversations?

      -> No, these conversations will still be available to both of you.

      4. Does blocking a Facebook user restrict him from seeing your messages on mutual friends’ walls?

      -> Yes, if you block someone, he will no more be able to see your messages on your mutual friends’ wall.

      5. Can I block a person who is not my friend?

      -> Yes. You can set up a block list in Privacy Settings -> “Edit block list”

      6. If I block a person, will I still be interacting with him within mutual games and applications.

      -> Yes, for some reason, you will.

      7. How can I make sure if someone has blocked me on Facebook?

      -> The most obvious flag of being blocked is that you can no longer see any sign of that person. They completely vanish. You can’t find them in a search and you can’t see their profile even if you follow a link from your previous conversation or photo.

  7. Great article. At first I didn’t like the new Facebook timeline, but now I’m inspired to update it.

  8. I don’t like that when I post pics and comments from my iPhone they are public unless I go to a computer and change it. By the time I get to a computer half the world could have seen my
    Pic or comment! That’s no privicy! There has to be a way for Facebook to fix this. I do all of my facebooking from my iPhone. This is the only problem I have with the timeline. So if they could fix this it would be great!

    • Hi Shirley: There are settings for me on each post that let me decide the privacy settings. When writing a status update, look for the “globe” and you should be able to easily change that setting to something more private.

  9. Michela says:

    I’d like to know why I can’t do mobile uploads since Timeline. I don’t have a smart phone, but it worked before and now NOT. Suggestions?

  10. Tiffany says:

    I cant see my comments i put on others walls or pictures on my wall anymore since switching to the timeline – i dont like this, tried so many settings and it wont show these things on my wall any more, For instance “Tiffany commented on Sue Smith’s photo……”

  11. durriyyah says:

    Hi its about the wall photos. I understand we can do the security setting on each pic, but while it works for my mobile uploads it does not work for my wall photos (each pic set to be viewed by friends only). They are open to public, or so I know when I view my profile as public. Can you pls help me sort this out?

    • Hi durriyyah,

      You’ve stumbled into one of the more confusing aspects of FB photo albums. My understanding is that a select few albums (“mobile uploads” being one of them), Facebook lets you set the privacy on a photo-by-photo basis. As best as I can tell, for almost all the other albums, you can only set the privacy level at the album-level. Does that help?


    • I have also the same problem, does anyone found any solution?

      • durriyyah says:

        It did my head in. But then I moved my wall photos to my mobile uploads. Thats the only way I could prevent them from being viewed by the public. Hope it helps you too.

  12. I’ve made a status with a pic attached public, yet when I click on “view as” and go to the public setting for my timeline, it’s not there. what gives?

    • Hi Carly… That’s a really hard problem to troubleshoot from here. It sounds like you know what you’re doing and doing everything right, but facebook is not cooperating. Maybe it’s just a bug in their system.

  13. yennaiv says:

    I’ts very nice of you to reply to every comment(: I would like to know how to set your facebook timeline privacy settings if you..

    don’t want people to be able to find your personal profile on facebook or through the internet search engines??

    I have tried: changing my e-mail, changing my name, put the settings to “custom” but even that I already have a different name, whenever you type my real name, my profile still shows up on the FB searh bar!!!! Please help ):

  14. Thanks Mr. Dustin Luther 4 ur great article it really cn help me. hw

  15. my timeline is active now but why my timeline dont show to my friends but its showing on for me only ,,,,,, i mean my friend coudnt see my timeline …….plz help me

    • adnon: Wish I had a great answer for you, but I have no idea why you can see your timeline, but you’re friends cannot. I’m thinking it’s either not been “published” or it’s taking Facebook some time to roll out the update to all your friends.

  16. how do i prevent events from a whole year to be shown on my timeline ?
    without removing the photos im tagged, and without doing it one by one ?

    • Sandra: i don’t know of any way to prevent an entire year from not showing up… If the photos are in albums, you *could* limit the settings on only those albums to prevent them from being shown. Otherwise, I think it is going to be a manual process.

  17. After a friend “unfriended” me, she said every photo I posted still shows up in her notifications on her iphone and told me to fix my problem. How can this be?

    • Allison: It’s doesn’t sound like much of a friend if she’s unfriended you, but that’s neither here nor there in this case. As far as I know, there’s no way for you to control the notifications that show up for her. That’s something that only she can control.

  18. Hi! I have a probleme with my photos. I have a public album with public photos. People can see and share them but they cant comment them or click LIKE. What can I do?


    • Are the photos on your personal account or business page? I haven’t played with photo settings on a page in a while, but I think there’s settings on the backend that specify who, if anyone, can leave comments on your photos/videos. Does that help?

  19. All the photos in my profile and wall photo albums are set to “friends”, yet when I view my page as the public i can still access all the photos in both those albums. i don’t understand why these photos are still available for everyone to see???

    • I don’t either… It sounds like either FB is broken or Facebooks photo privacy settings are not clear enough. I’m guessing it’s the latter. Are you sure you’re editing the privacy settings for the album?

    • I have recently noticed that when I view who can see my timeline as public view everybody can see my profile pictures.

      I hope it is just an error and not a new thing so profile album pictures re no longer private.

  20. Some albums don’t have the option in step 4. You have to customize each picture’s audience. Is there a shortcut to this?

  21. Dustin, on my old facebook layout I had the privacy settings set so that friends could see wall posts but only I could see photos tagged of me. Is there a way to recreate these settings on timeline? I would like to restrict everyone from seeing all photos I’m tagged in but still allow them to see regular posts (without deleting or untagging the photos).

    • Hi Tara: On this page: https://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy I see an option for “Timeline and Tagging”. When I go to edit settings, it lets me adjust who can see photos that I’m tagged in. Is this what you’re looking for?

      • Thanks for the quick reply. Unfortunately I only see an option to edit “who can see posts I’ve been tagged in” but no option to edit the privacy settings for just the pictures I’ve been tagged in.

        • Tara: Now I think I see what you’re looking for. It sounds like you want people to be able to see posts where you’re mentioned in an update unless that update includes a photo. I don’t see that as an option on Facebook’s backend, but it seems like a pretty small use case. For me, I rarely get mentioned in someone else’s updates unless I’m included in a photo, so wondering if might just make sense to set all updates where you’re mentioned to be viewable to “only me”, and then one-by-one make “public” the updates you don’t mind others seeing?

  22. When I go to View As and click Public, there is a clickable Photo button under the cover photo and two buttons under Albums: Cover Photos and Profile Pictures. A thumbnail of my cover photo is on the Cover Photos button and there’s a question mark on the Profile Pictures button. Clicking on any of these three buttons takes me to a page that allows the public to see every photo in every album, even though everything is set (I just checked) to Friends. How can I override this?

    • Robin08: I tried to replicate what you’re talking about, but can’t seem to do it. I start seeing different things pretty quickly in that I don’t see the “two buttons under Albums: Cover Photos and Profile Pictures,” so not sure how to help you out here. But maybe I’m missing something because they’re no reason to “view as public” when trying to make privacy changes. Why not just go into your photo albums and adjust the settings there?

      • Thanks for your response. My problem is that when I “view as public,” it appears that all the pictures in all my albums can be seen by the public, even though every picture is set to Friends.

        • Hello Robin08, I get what you mean.. I have the exact same issue about the public seemingly being able to see my profile photos even though all the photos in my profile album are set to “friends only”. After alot of frustration and some clicking around, I suspect it could be a bug on the “view as” function.

          If you realised, whenever you are in the “view as” mode, everything you click will have this message at the top of the page “Once your timeline is published, this is how it will look to most people on Facebook.” which tells you that you are currently checking how your timeline looks like in the eyes of friends or public. I realised that however when you click into the “profile pictures” album (which has a “?” icon due to you setting the pictures’ privacy to “friends only”), suddenly the message “Once your timeline is published, this is how it will look to most people on Facebook.” is no longer at the top. This tells you that you are no longer in the “view as” mode and you are now seeing your profile pictures as how you would normally do. I believe this is simply a bug on the “view as” function and does not affect your privacy settings on your profile pictures.

          Though it is extremely frustrating to not know 100% if your profile pictures are truly private to the public..

          • Thanks! I’m going to get someone who isn’t a Facebook friend to search for my page and see what they have access to. If all my photos are available to everyone, that will be extremely annoying.

            • Just tried it. The person went on one of my Friend’s pages (she isn’t friends with any of my friends), clicked on my profile picture in her Friends section and was able to go to all my pictures. So, they are available. That’s extremely frustrating.

  23. amy esteves says:

    i just uploaded a new photo album and it is not showing on my timeline but it is in my pictures area. how can i get them on my timeline.

  24. How do I set my privacy settings to have my “Liked” pictures not show up in my friend’s feed list? I find this most violating of all. It’s not like I’m “liking” lewd pictures but I have a huge problem with my “friends” seeing pictures of my family’s pictures that I’ve “liked”.

    • That’s hard to say… and I think depends almost entirely on the settings of the people uploading the photo than anything you have control over. In other words, if your family sets their privacy so only “friends” can see their photos, then I don’t think your friends will ever see your “likes”, but if they make their photos public, then your “likes” will show up for others to see. Don’t think there’s a way to change this.

  25. Can you tell me how to turn off the notification to my friends, every time I change my profile picture or cover photo? Don’t feel like I need to broadcast that every time I make an adjustment. There used to be a settings list for when you sent notifications, but I can’t find it anymore. Thanks

  26. On my personal FB page I can adjust all the photos/photo album privacy settings, easy peasy. However, on my business page, I cannot, AT ALL. I just changed the name of my business as well as the look of my products; I would like to lock the old photo album photos and use only some of the old photos when I am ready but there is no way to lock the albums on my ‘business’ page. I have written into FB included screen shots, etc., several times and I’m not getting a single response. Is it possible that on ‘business’ FB pages you cannot control the privacy settings for your photos? Really?… What am I missing? I need help! Pretty please!

    • Hi Ashley,

      Don’t think you’re missing anything. Pretty sure there’s no “private” settings for Facebook Page albums. The idea behind the FB Pages are they they are a public place to represent your company, so I’m guessing they didn’t want to build in privacy features.

      One option for you would be to simply download all the photos to your local drive and then upload them again as you find you want to use them.

      Hope that helps!

  27. Hi Dustin,
    I just put a number of items on my timeline (“travels”, “moved to”, etc), assigning each as I went either for ‘friends’ or ‘only me’. When I go to ‘how your timeline looks to the public’, however, all of the items I marked as ‘friends’ are visible on the timeline! Those marked ‘only me’ are not, but when I click ‘show all’ under the info column under my picture, EVERYTHING is listed–both ‘friends’ and ‘only me’ entries! This new timeline thing suddenly has me worried. Have you come across any of this? Thanks!

  28. I’ve noticed some folds have managed to get an icon or photo on their “about”radio button on their wall but I have yet to figure out how to do that. Mine is still the template gray blob. How do I replace the gray blob with a picture?

  29. Is there a way to add words on your pictures now that they are in albums? I want to put names on my pictures and what’s happening on my pictures. How do I do that? And if we can not …than please someone out there in apple word fix that. Thank you

  30. If you posted this information, sorry I missed it…but, here’s my question:
    you used to be able to set your wall with this….’so and so only shares information with friends.’

    If that still an option? If so, how can I get that on my Wall? thank you so much.

    • I don’t think that’s still an option… I could be wrong, but it appears FB has changed their “privacy” settings so that it’s almost always possible to share stuff publicly… at least that’s been my experience.

  31. Hi,

    I am sorry i only found your blog today but and i hope you can help me!:)
    I added my hometown and my school to facebook and set it as public but it still doesnt show up when i view it from the public setting , neither does the year I was born?

    can you help me change this as the only thing the public can see is my name profile picture and cover photo :)

    • Hi Sarah,

      I’m not sure what you’re trying to do… and I might be reading it wrong, but it seems that your hometown and school are set as public, but not showing up (i.e. not “public”) and you don’t want them to show up, so not sure how to help… Either way, you *should* be able to customize who can see what on your privacy page: https://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy . Hope that helps!

  32. Ever since they changed the facebook its been setting my mobile uploads to private. Is there a way i can change this so that i dont have to change it back to friends only? Its really pissing me off. Especially since it clearly says it goes str8 to “public” in the first place! Smdh. So if i have it to friends only why is it being set to private?

  33. Hi Dustin

    Hoping you can help me. As mentioned in an earlier post, whilst an album can be made public so that everyone on Facebook can view the content, there doesn’t appear to be an option to make it so that everyone can comment on the album or pictures – this is an album that was posted from a profile, rather than a business page.

    If you know of a way or could have a fiddle to find out, I would much appreciate it!

    Thank you!

  34. MICHELE LORD says:

    can someone please help me in fb land! i have a kitchen page which i have successfully obtained over 5000 likes! i cant see my timeline anymore :( i cant post on a pc and i am sad. i had a great page going. what do i do to get it back to normal!!! HELP!!! THANK U!

  35. MillyRad says:

    This may be a dumb question, but I can’t seem to find a clear answer anywhere: Can someone you’ve blocked make comments on public posts/status updates?

    I’m considering making my profile public and there are a couple of people I’ve blocked. Will they be able to see my public profile/timeline? If yes, would they be able to comment or interact with me in any way?

    • MillyRad: That’s a great question… I’m pretty sure that someone you’ve blocked will *not* be able to make comments on your public posts/status updates…

      If you make all your updates public, then I’m pretty sure anyone you have blocked will *not* be able to see your updates (while they’re logged in). However, if they logged out, then they’d be able to “see” your public updates but not interact with them.

      To give you an idea, I just logged out of facebook and went to my profile:
      * https://www.facebook.com/dluther — I don’t see any updates, although I do see a list of my “likes”

      I then went to a specific update that’s public (while logged out):
      * https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151353568106709&set=a.10150296128721709.329051.517066708&type=1 — and I can see that update, photos, comments, etc.

      However, I cannot interact with that photo when logged out.

      Hopefully that gives you some insight into how people who you’ve banned will see your “public” updates

      • MillyRad says:

        Thank you so much for looking into this Mr. Luther! I thought it might be a look-but-don’t-touch scenario. I think I’m okay with that. :)

  36. Mohamed Elrafaee says:

    how can i make everyone who follow me comment on my timeline even the aren’t on my friend list

    • Definitely no way to “make people comment” on your timeline but, I think you’re asking it’s possible to “allow people to comment” on your timeline.

      I’m not 100% sure how Facebook handles this… I know that people who “subscribe” to my posts often comment on my public updates (and I’ve definitely commented on updates of people I subscribe to). I *think* it’s just a given that if you publish it publicly, then anyone can comment on it (assuming you haven’t blocked them).

      The privacy settings are here: https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=timeline but I don’t see anything that specifically handles “subscribers.”

  37. Hi..I have one question. Whenever I make a public post people are able to see/share my post but not like/comment on it. How can I make sure that public posts can be liked/commented on by everyone?

    • Hi Sahejin,

      I just clicked through your profile and see that I have the ability to comment/like/share your public posts despite the fact that we’re not “friends.” I think your public posts can be liked/commented by everyone.

  38. Samuel Matthew says:

    Please help me to ratified this problem. I cannot upload pictures again, even if i makes comments on my timeline, its only Friends who sees it, i cannot see it. I cannot see my comments in public.

  39. Thank you so much for this Mr. Luther. As soon as I can get away from Google+ for a few minutes, I’m going to do this :)

  40. renee hodges says:

    Great… but on STEP 4….I have mobile uploads…I’m trying to create new albums….HOW DO I DO THIS?…CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT….PLEASE HELP???

  41. Hey Renee: It’s a bit hard to trouble shoot creating new albums because FB keeps changing what’s possible…. and which photos you can move to other albums.

    I’m sure there’s a dozen ways to “create an album”, but none of them seem obvious to me. Nonetheless, here’s one way to do it.

    1) Go to your timeline
    2) Click on the photos box (just under your timeline cover image)
    3) Click on any album
    4) Near the top, you should see the name of the album, your name and the phrase “(albums)”. Click on “(albums)”
    5) In the top right, you should know see a button with the option to create an album or “+ Create Album”

    Hope that helps!

  42. Renee: I’m not sure how to help. I have the option (shown in the step 4 image) to update the settings for photos. Are you albe to see that graphic?

    And sorry for the super slow response (almost a year???). This is the first time I’ve seen this comment. Not sure how it slipped through!


  1. [...] I got some great questions (and feedback) from the folks who showed up and the talk inspired my latest blog post on the Credibility Insights:  5 Things to Check Before Making Your Facebook Timeline Public. [...]

  2. [...] Facebook Graph Search is the Third Pillar of Facebook (with the first two being the newsfeed and your timeline). The feature is designed to make much of the data we’ve already put into their database more [...]

  3. […] blog has been able to engage hundreds of thousands of people on a range of topics including educational material for small business owners, relevant opportunities for small business owners, and informative posts that help tell our […]

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