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How To Use FaceBook's New Selective Privacy Features

Here's how to use Facebook's new privacy tools to control who sees every comment you make.

Facebook's new on-the-fly drop-down menu lets you control who sees each and every comment or photo you post. According to Facebook, the new controls are meant to be more "visual and straightforward," making it easier for you to both configure your account's privacy and figure out "who can see this?" I agree 100%; this is a huge improvement. Let's take a look at the new updates and walk through how they work.

To start off, you'll want to configure the default settings for the new options. Click Account, Privacy Settings.

Facebook makes this screen super intuitive. Set your default sharing option by selecting Public, Friends, or Custom.

If you choose Custom, a box will pop up with another menu for specifying exactly who can view your posts. The options include Friends of Friends, Friends, Specific People, or Only Me. If you choose Specific People, you can type in individual names, or the name of a list of people that you've previously created (say, Book Club Friends). Finally, you can also check a box to include any network you might be in.

In my example I selected Friends of Friends as my default.

Because this is such a large group, however, I'm also going to use the "Hide this from" option to keep my default status updates from appearing to my brother.

Once you have the settings the way you want them, Click Save Setting. Now it's time to make our first post using our new default privacy setting. Click on Profile.

After typing something in for your Status Update, you'll see a couple of other new options Facebook has added. One is being able to type in the names of people who are with you at the moment.

You can also tell people where you are. But both of these are optional. You can ignore them.

Now, doublecheck who you will be sharing the post with. You will notice that the selections I made earlier when configuring privacy are being used by default, as expected. By default the post is being shared with Friends of Friends except Mysticgeek Brian. Perfect since I owe Brian money!

But what if I want to override the default? I just click the menu button and select who I want to share the post with instead. Once more, you can choose between Public, Friends, or Custom to configure a specific group of friends, lists, or exclusions. In this example I'm going to narrow the visibility to Friends.

Sharing photos and videos works exactly the same way as a post. Click Add Photo.

Choose between uploading a photo or video, using your webcam, or creating a photo album.

Just like status updates, when uploading a photo or video the same new privacy settings apply.

To view the settings for old posts, just hover over the right side of the post and Facebook will display who it was shared (or not) with.

Still need some help? The first time you use your Facebook account with the new privacy controls you can watch a short demo. You can also read more about the new settings at Facebook:

Based in Seattle, Steve Krause is a senior contributor at BYTE. Follow him @krausesteve or email him at

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