The result of Facebook Privacy Changes

For most types of information on your profile, Facebook lets you select a level of disclosure. The following table summarizes the effects of each available option.

Option Who/What Can Access?
Friend Friend
Any Facebook User Any
Internet User
App You Run App Your Friend Runs Facebook or Bing Search
Friends and Networks YES YES* YES YES**
Friends of Friends YES YES YES YES**
Only Friends YES YES YES**
Custom *** YES ***

*: For privacy purposes, persons in your regional network are not considered part of your networks, and thus would not be able to view this content.

**: By default, this information is available. However, users can change their search privacy settings and application privacy settings to change the availability of this information.

***: See Facebook for a description of the custom setting.

“Publicly Available Information” or “PAI”

Unlike the other privacy settings, “publicly available information” is not an option. This is the category of information in your profile that Facebook has decided must be publicly available. This means that there are no privacy settings that can prevent disclosure of information in this category, and anyone who finds and visits your profile page can see this information, as can any application that you or your friends use. Facebook search and Internet search engines can also see this information if you do not adjust your search privacy settings.

“Publicly available information” includes your name, profile photo, list of friends, pages you are a fan of, gender, networks to which you belong, and current city.

The existence and consequences of PAI are new. Before the current changes, from our experience it was possible to control the disclosure of everything but your name and the networks you belong to through the search privacy settings and through the profile option on the Profile: Basic Info privacy settings page. This option is no longer available to Facebook users.

**Friend List Update**

A lot of people seem to be wondering how to hide their friend lists on their profile pages. This is no longer a privacy setting because friend lists have been declared publicly available information.& However you can still hide the list on your profile page by clicking the pencil icon in the top right corner of the friends box and unchecking “Show my friends on my profile.” Unfortunately, this does not seem to affect the visibility of your friend list when someone searches for you on Facebook or on your public profile if you have chosen to allow indexing of your page, so there is no way that we have found to truly hide your friend list anymore. There also doesn’t seem to be a way to only display mutual friends, or to filter which of your friends see your friends list.



If you select the Everyone option, you are voluntarily making the information affected publicly available. It will be treated exactly the same as “publicly available information.” Any user (or application) on the site can potentially see it, and search engines can access it unless you change your search settings. This means that, even if you later change the setting to a more restrictive privacy option, the information may be preserved by other web sites or applications that have already accessed it.


If you select the Custom option, you can choose to share this information with specific groups of friends. These friends–and any app that they run, unless you adjust your application settings–will have access to this information, but your other friends will not.

This post quoted at length from What Does Facebook’s Privacy Transition Mean for You?
Copyright 2009 American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California
Reprinted with permission of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California

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