Understanding Facebook Privacy When Commenting On Friends’ Stuff

Understanding Facebook Privacy When Commenting On Friends’ Stuff

Is My Privacy Protected? 

Facebook Post privacy is one of the most asked about questions here on Just-Ask-Kim.com 

I have a super useful post that covers how to control which of your posts are seen by your friends and family

This however, raised a really important question by an insightful reader named Jodi: 

“So here’s my question…right now, I’m posting with a “custom” setting as I’m “hiding” stuff from my family. If a friend of mine (not theirs) posts something, and I make a comment, will my family (the ones that are restricted from seeing my posts) be able to see that comment in their ticker? Also, will they be able to see things that are posted on MY wall?”

Great question Jodi…  

The privacy setting that is “in play” is always the one that belongs to the owner of the profile it is posted on.

So if you (yourself) post on your own profile (or at the top of your newsfeed, which is the same thing), your custom privacy settings work as you would expect.

If John makes a post on his profile or in his newsfeed, that you see, his own custom filter is in play (or public filter if that’s his choice). You can hover over the icon near the top of the message to see. So if you comment on it, and it’s public or “friends of friends), there’s a chance it could be seen by the people you are hiding content from, yes.


If John comes over to visit you and writes a message on your profile (like happy birthday), then because it’s on your profile, your settings are the governing rule.

Now, lets assume that when John made his post, on his own profile/feed, that he used the “Friends of Friends” filter (or public). When you comment on that, all of your friends will see a little blurb about you leaving a comment somewhere, in their right hand ticker.

If however, he uses the “Friends” (which means friends-only) or any custom list within allow, then when you comment, no one but his own friends will be able to see that you have commented (or the original post in general). Keep in mind that if John is friends (directly) with the individuals you are hiding from, that this can still grant them visibility. 

Are there any special noteworthy exceptions? Yes… the case of tags.

In the image above, we see that Joanna has tagged Nancy in a text/name tag. This causes the privacy of the status to be the original privacy option (Joanna’s friends) PLUS the friends of the person tagged! 

So, above we see Joanna’s friends (because the “Friends” privacy option was what Joanna was using) AND Nancy’s friends (because Nancy was tagged). 

Tagging is some very powerful stuff and we need to use the tag-approval option to keep unsavory tagged items from displaying on our profile. That option however does NOT prevent our friends from seeing them. To control who can see posts you’re tagged in, there is a second security feature for that.

The act of friending someone  *is* the act of giving them the right to tag you  – and so you have to think long and hard about whether THEM having the ability to show some stuff to your friends is a power you want them to have (before you click “accept” on that friend request). 

In summary – the privacy status of an item is always controlled by the individual who’s wall it is on – except in the case of tagging which can cause a broader (combined) privacy option to be used.

Hope that helps!

~ Kim ~
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22 Comments on "Understanding Facebook Privacy When Commenting On Friends’ Stuff"

2 years 5 months ago

Aha…So that’s where those nasty “friends” of “friends” are coming from. So annoying, but now I can understand it.
As I’m cleaning up Facebok -once again- this week, this article comes in handy.
This is very useful Kim because I’m trimming down things on all social sites at this time. Now I know what those little icons mean too.
Thanks for the tips an be well!

2 years 5 months ago

I have been asking myself this question for a long time Kim, and I have even searched for the answer without finding the information. You did a great job explaining it. And it seems that most of my Norwegian friends are not using the privacy settings, so every time I comment on something they’ve published, all my friends will see it :)

2 years 5 months ago

Great explanation, Kim. Everyone should assume that whatever they post on the Internet can become public. Too many stories exist of people posting things they don’t want others to see but inevitably those posts become news fodder.

2 years 5 months ago

Interesting how “privacy” works on Facebook. Thanks for helping me understand their definition. It certainly helps when it comes to me alining my meaning of the word with theirs.

2 years 5 months ago

Gotta tell you, I have never been happier that for some bizaar reason (considering what I do for a living) my world of family and friends is populated by technophobes. Seriously, none of my close friends or family FB or Tweet or anything like that. It took me half a lifetime just to get my sister to use email!