Keep your Facebook profile off search engines

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Have you Google’d yourself lately? (Or Bing’d yourself? Or Yahoo’d yourself? Why do these terms sound a little dirty?) If you have, you might have seen that one of the top results is your Facebook profile. You can prevent that from happening if you want to make it a little bit harder for people to find you.

What will people see if they click your Facebook profile from a Search Engine Result Page?

1. If they are NOT signed in to their own Facebook account, they will see limited information from your profile. This will be based on your privacy settings for certain portions of your profile. For example they might see your activities and interests if you have set those to “Public”. They will not see your list of friends, wall, or photos. They will however see your profile photo.

Here’s an example. I found my brother’s profile with a simple search (name blurred to protect the innocent). His Facebook profile was at the top of the search results list. So any former flame who may be trying to track him down (and I bet there are many) will be successful in their search and will find that he’s into music, went to bars in the 70’s and 80’s, and has a cute kid.

Facebook profile found in search

2. If they ARE signed into their own Facebook account, they will see any information that you have set to “Public” on your profile. (For my brother that was only his Friends list. Nicely locked-down profile, bro!)

How to hide your Facebook Profile from Search Engines

If you would prefer NOT to have your Facebook profile listed when people search for you on Google or other search engines, here is how you can prevent it.

1. First, click the little upside down arrow next to “Home” in the top right corner of the screen. This gives you a few options. Click “Privacy Settings”.

2. Scroll down to Apps and Websites. Next to that click “Edit Settings”.

3. The last option on this page is “Public Search” which will “Show a preview of your Facebook profile when people look for you using a search engine.” Click “Edit Settings”.

4. If the box next to “Enable Public Search” is checked, then UNCHECK the box. You will get a prompt asking you if you are sure:

Are You Sure?

5. Click Confirm. Then click Back to Apps, or back to your profile or Home. The changes won’t be instant; your profile may still be found for a while until the search engines catch up to this change.

That’s it! Note that this does NOT prevent people from finding you from within Facebook. But it does add at least a little extra layer of protection if you prefer to remain incognito. If you’re a parent and your kid is on Facebook, you may want to check this setting on their profile as well.

Now if you DO want your Facebook page to come up in a general web search, that’s fine too. You might want to be more “visible”, say to former school-mates or potential employers. If that is the case, there is really no harm in having your profile available as long as you are careful about what information is made “public” on your profile.

So do a search for yourself. If you don’t like what you see, you can take this one small step towards controlling your digital footprint.


2 thoughts on “Keep your Facebook profile off search engines

  1. Hi! I went to my son’s facebook page to take care of this but because he is a “minor” it was already set up that way–guess they have special privacy things for minors which is good. Thanks for the tips. Liz

    • That’s good to know that it is set up that way for minors. Not having a kid on Facebook myself (yet!) I wasn’t aware of the different settings. I looked on FB help and found a few other things of interest, like minors can only share stuff with “Friends of Friends” and not “Public”. Thanks Liz! And for those of you reading comments here is a page with some of the differences in privacy settings for minors:

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