How to Stay Incognito When Signed Into Facebook

By Carolyn Luck

Use Facebook without leaving a trace.
i Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images

If you’re looking for a little more privacy when searching the News Feeds, you’ve got to take steps to hide your Facebook presence. Turning off chat, upping your privacy ante and designating your audience are all ways to stay incognito while using the social network. None are permanent, which means you can readjust when you’re ready to face the world again.

Chat Availability

When logged in to your account, default chat settings enable friends to see your Facebook presence. Each member has a chat sidebar in the right side panel of his home page, which displays a list of Facebook friends and their Chat availability. If you don’t turn off Chat, your name may appear with a green dot beside it, indicating that you’re online and available to chat. It may also display a mobile phone-shaped icon, indicating that you’re using one of the Facebook mobile applications. To appear unavailable, as evidenced by a lack of icon beside your name in a chat sidebar, you must turn Chat off. To do so, click the gear-shaped icon in your Chat menu, which appears in the lower right corner, and select “Turn Off Chat.” Use the “Advanced Settings…” option to turn chat off from some members while leaving it on for others.

Limited Activity

Facebook activity is the most obvious indication that you’re signed in to your account. Each time you update your status, share a photo, or comment on someone else’s post, a story is created and shared in various places on the social network. Certain types of activity, such as looking at photos, reading your News Feed and browsing groups and pages, will not create stories unless there is a clickable action involved, such as a Like, share or comment. Limiting your Facebook activity will help you to maintain invisibility while signed in.

Audience Selector Tool

The Audience Selector tool enables you to control the visibility of the content you post and should be used to help you remain incognito. Each time you post something, open the tool by clicking the down arrow in the lower right corner of the dialog box you’re posting in. Select an audience for your content. Note that a “Public” setting makes your content visible to anyone on the social network, while a “Friends” setting limits your audience to confirmed Facebook friends only. The “Only Me” setting provides the least visibility, preventing everyone but you from seeing what you’ve posted.

Privacy Settings

While adjusting your privacy settings enables you to limit your visibility, there are some aspects of your profile that are simply visible to anyone. These include your name, cover and profile photos, Facebook email address and certain other types of content in which you may be tagged. It’s possible to remain incognito by using photos that don’t show your face, selecting a Facebook email address that doesn’t contain your name, and generally avoiding identifying factors including location. Visit your Privacy Settings and Tools page to select the most restrictive privacy settings across your Facebook account. As with all Facebook aspects, the more you share, the more visibility you take on.

Block Lists

Your block list enables you to remain invisible to Facebook members on an individual basis. When you add someone to your block list, virtually all connections that exist between you are deleted. Some exceptions include mutual friends’ photos and activities in mutual groups. Following a block, you can no longer see each other’s Facebook presence or interact with one another. Blocking is mutual, which means only one party needs to initiate. Note that blocking does not translate to external websites, and applies only to Facebook features.