Facebook privacy: How to check and hide your old messages

05 October 2012 | 14:19 - By Rhiannon Elston

The world’s most popular social media site may not be leaking your private messages, but your old wall posts could be revealing more personal information about you than you would like.

The world’s most popular social media site may not be leaking your private messages, but your old wall posts could be revealing more personal information about you than you would like.

Recent changes to Facebook settings mean old, archived information that once took pages of scrolling and a considerable time investment to access can now be found by any of your friends in just a couple of clicks.

This has caused considerable confusion among users, many of whom mistakenly believed their old private messages were being made public. Facebook has reassured its users that this is not the case, but you only have to follow these steps to see what all the fuss is about:

How to see your old wall posts

1. Login to your Facebook page and click on a year from early in your Facebook usage.

2. You’ll be taken to your archived information from that year. On the right-hand side, you’ll see a box that says ‘Friends’. All your old wall posts from that year are contained within. Although they may look like highly personal messages, they are actually wall messages, and unless you've hidden them, they're visible to your Facebook friends.

Analysts claim these posts are causing alarm because we have forgotten how open we used to be on Facebook. Back in 2008, friendship groups on the site tended to be smaller. Gen Y users were younger and many may not yet have entered the workforce. What we were willing to reveal back then may be vastly different to what we are willing to reveal – to a wider audience – now.

How to fix the problem
It’s actually pretty easy to fix this problem. Just click on the ‘edit or remove’ pencil icon, and click ‘Hide from Timeline’. You'll need to repeat this step for each year in your timeline.

How to see everything you've ever written publically on Facebook

Now for the scary part: how to see everything you've ever made public on the social networking site. The good news is, it's easy to manage and delete the information, once you know it's there.

Go to your profile page and click on 'Activity log'. Using the same yearly timeline menu as outlined above, you can click through your Facebook history right back to where you first signed up to the site. And you can delete them, too - simply click on the circular button to the right and select 'delete'.


Have you had privacy issues with Facebook? Leave a comment below, or tweet or email the author of this article.

Email: Rhiannon.elston (at) sbs.com.au

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Comments (2)

10 Oct 2012 22:57 AEST

Eli Pappas

From: Coffs Harbour

Programs for easy hacking.

I am not sure whether the staff of 'Facebook' are aware of this, however, there are hacker programs one can download from the internet to bi-pass a Facebook user's security wall. I know this, because, someone who was not my friend was able to post a photo of me on the wall, interrupting a text exchange with a friend. This photo was only visible to 'my' friends 'in' my account. When I told my friend what happened, he informed me of hacking programs on the net. People need to be careful!

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05 Oct 2012 23:49 AEST

Russell Millard

From: Mumbil


The information will never be deleted from the Facebook Servers and will never be secure. Facebook information is now open to anybody who wants and has a couple of spare dollars. Russ

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About this Blog

SBS reporter Rhiannon Elston zeroes in on the topics of the day.

Rhiannon Elston Rhiannon Elston is an SBS journalist, reporter, writer and self-confessed social media tragic.