Facebook’s letting you search for old posts. How to keep yours (sort of) hidden.

 

Facebook announced this week that it’s adding the ability to let you search for old posts on its network by using the search bar. The idea, the company said, is to be able to go back to posts you missed — to see your friend’s wedding pictures, say, or relive a super-funny moment on your last vacation. The feature is rolling out on iOS and desktop Web browsers over the next week.

” You’ve told us the most important thing is being able to find posts you’ve seen before, and now you can,” wrote Facebook’s Tom Stocky, its vice president of search.

That’s all well and good, but Internet being what it is, that also means that the temptation will be almost overwhelming to search for embarrassing posts, like the time that you locked your keys in your running car. (Not that I speak from experience or anything.) And when new friends re-“like” or comment on those embarrassing incidents you might not want people to read again.

Oh dear.

You can’t completely opt out of search, but there are ways to keep old posts from resurfacing. To that end, this is also a good time to get reacquainted with Facebook’s privacy menu, so you can prevent posts from getting out to your employer or the general public. There are a couple of ways to do this.

One way is to take the broad approach and take the “Limit Old Posts” option. This feature changes every post you’ve ever made on your timeline to the “Friends” audience

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It’s not a particularly nuanced option, and doesn’t help if you’re friends with the people that you want to keep from seeing your posts. It also doesn’t help too much if you’ve already restricted the audience on a certain post to a more narrow audience than “Friends.” Use with caution.

For a more in-depth — if a bit tedious — approach, the best option is to use the “Activity Log.”

 

That lets you go through every post you’ve made, chronologically, and determine whether you want it on your timeline, and which groups you’d like to be able to see it.

From that page, you can get rid of items you don’t want on your timeline by unliking or hiding them, or change the privacy setting on your own posts to limit the audience. It isn’t a quick option, but it does give you post-by-post control over what’s on your account.

And, of course, if there’s a really bad picture or post that you put up yourself, you can opt to delete it and nip this whole thing in the bud.

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