What Does a Lock Mean on Facebook Settings?

by David Nield

Facebook offers several options for controlling who can see your content, including status updates, check-ins and photos. A padlock symbol by any content on Facebook means it is only visible by you -- none of your other Facebook friends are able to see, like or comment on the item. To change the settings for any content you've posted to Facebook, open up the audience selector drop-down menu underneath the item in question, which is labeled with an icon (such as a padlock) reflecting the content's current view settings.

Step 1

Log in to Facebook and click on your name or profile picture to visit your Timeline. By each of the items on your Timeline you'll find an audience selector drop-down. If this selector is labelled with a padlock symbol, it means the item can only be viewed by you.

Step 2

Click the audience selector drop-down to choose who is able to see the content in question.

Step 3

Select "Public" to make the item visible to anyone who visits your Facebook profile page, regardless if they are connected as a friend or even logged into Facebook. Select "Friends" to make the item visible to users you have confirmed as friends on the social network. Select "Only me" (the padlock symbol) to block anyone but you from seeing the item, or the "Custom" option to specify particular friends who can or cannot see the content.

Click inside the status update box and the same audience selector appears underneath, permitting you to choose who can see the update. Choose "Only me" by the padlock symbol to keep the update to yourself. The audience selector remembers the choice you made from the last time you shared something on the network.


  • The audience selector drop-down list is available from most places where you can share content on Facebook, including the mobile site and mobile apps.
  • The "Only me" setting is useful for storing memories or photos (baby pictures, for example) you don't want shared with anyone else. These updates still appear on your Timeline but are not visible by anyone else.

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