One Facebook trick to prevent embarrassment

Facebook Might Be Tracking You Even If You Don't Have A Facebook
Facebook Might Be Tracking You Even If You Don't Have A Facebook

How long have been using Facebook? One year? Five years? 10 years? Even if it's only been a few months, you might have some embarrassing information lurking in your history that you don't even remember posting. Do you want your new squeeze, a co-worker, family member or even a potential employer stumbling on it?

Fortunately, Facebook has an easy way to review your history and remove posts that really shouldn't be in there. It's called the Activity Log.

The Activity Log

To get started, sign in to your Facebook account. Then click the down arrow in the upper-right corner and select Activity Log. You can also click your name in the top bar to go to your Facebook page and then click the "View Activity Log" button on the right side of the cover photo area.

The Activity Log might seem a little overwhelming at first with thousands of entries to scroll through, but Facebook has a few tools to make things easier.

In the left-hand column, you'll see a huge list of filters. These show you just the posts in your Timeline about those topics. For example, if you only want to look at things you've posted in the past, select "Your Posts." You can also just look at "Photos," things you've "Liked" and "Comments" you've made on posts, photos and videos.

Click the "More" link to see more filters like "Videos," "Groups" and "Location History." Location History is especially helpful if in the past you were a little too free with telling people where you were. After all, an increasing number of burglars use social media to target their victims.

One thing you probably didn't know Facebook tracks is your search history. Everything and everybody who you've searched for on Facebook is visible to anyone who gets access to your account.

To see your search history, look in the left column of the Activity Log and click "More" under "Photos, Likes and Comments." Then click "Search" near the bottom of the list. You can delete individual entries by clicking the "circle with a slash" icon and selecting "Delete." You can also click "Clear Searches" at the top to wipe everything at once. I have a full walkthrough of the process on my site.

Of course, there's no way to stop Facebook from recording your search history. You'll need to keep coming back to delete your history if you don't want it recorded, or just stop searching on Facebook.

At the very bottom, you can also see what apps you've installed and what posts they've made on your Timeline. At the top of the log, you can also change the settings on who can see the posts that the apps make.

But that's not everything you need to do.

Limit Past Posts

Even if you're OK with your Facebook friends seeing some embarrassing posts, you might have posted something in the distant past that you wouldn't want strangers to see. Unfortunately, your privacy settings back then might not have been set correctly. Make sure your privacy settings are set correctly now before you keep reading.

Changing every past post manually from "Everyone" to "Friends" could take days. Fortunately, Facebook has a quicker option. At the top of the page, click the upside-down triangle and select Settings.

Then click the "Privacy" link in the left-hand column. Under "Who can see my stuff?" click the "Limit Past Posts" link. Next, click the "Limit Old Posts" button to change the privacy setting of every post in your profile to "Friends."

Note that if you have posts that you want everyone to see, this will change those as well. You'll need to go change those posts back to "Everyone" manually.

Next, go to your Facebook page and to the upper right, click the three dots next to the "View Activity Log" button and select "View as..." This lets you see your Facebook page the way a stranger would, or any Facebook user you select. That way, you can quickly spot problem posts and change their privacy settings or remove them.

"View as..." is especially handy if you've set up custom lists. Lists let you choose specific friends who can see certain posts. Learn how to make lists and control exactly who sees what.

While you're tweaking old Facebook settings, take some time to review information you've added to your account in the past. Facebook asks for a lot of details about your life, like home address, that you probably shouldn't give it. Find out what these details are and how to remove them if you have them in your account.