We discuss the Facebook “follow” feature, what it is, how it works and dispel some myths at the same time.
One of the fundamental aspects of Facebook that most users will comfortably understand is being Facebook friends with someone else. This means you may see each other’s posts appear on your newsfeed, you can visit their timeline and see all their “friends only” posts including status updates and photos. And of course you can send each other instant messages on the Facebook website or through the Messenger app.
But not only can you be Facebook friends with someone, you can also have someone “follow” you on Facebook who isn’t your friend.
So what is this “follow” feature – and how does it differ from being Facebook friends? We explain all.
The Facebook follow feature allows users you’re not friends with see your PUBLIC updates.
If someone you’re not friends with follows you, then your posts (such as your status updates or check-ins) may appear in that someone’s newsfeed, much like if they were your friend.
However, the really, really important difference is that it’s only your public posts that may appear in their newsfeed. NOT your “friends only” posts, since the follower isn’t your friend and can’t see those posts.
This is important to remember, since many Facebook users become confused and mistakenly believe that those who follow them can see their private or “friends only” posts. They can’t. A follower will get your public posts in their newsfeed, and that’s the only difference between a follower and a complete stranger who doesn’t follow you.
Can I stop non-friends from following me or choose who follows me?
You can stop all non-friends from following you. Go to your settings and select Public Posts. Then select the Who Can Follow Me option to Friends. This stops people who are not your friend from following your public posts.
However you can’t pick and choose. If you have enabled the feature, then anyone can follow you. You can stop certain people from following you, but this would mean completely blocking them on Facebook – meaning you’re both invisible to one another. This may be a little too drastic for most people.
How do I follow someone on Facebook?
Easy, click the Follow button on their cover photo next to Message. If there is no Follow button, then they have disabled the feature and you can’t follow them.
How do I see who follows me?
Go to your Facebook account on a desktop and click the link on the left hand side above your photos telling you how many users are following you.
(Despite what an online viral rumour claims, you can’t see who follows you by typing in “following me” in the Blocked Users section of your account settings.)
If anyone can follow me, isn’t that a privacy violation?
Not really, for this reason; followers can only see your public posts, not posts you’ve selected for friends only. This means you’re still in control over who sees what information. It is never recommended to post sensitive or private information publicly, since anyone can see it. As such, followers should never have access to any information you don’t mind being seen publicly.
Following you only means your public posts appear in a followers newsfeed. Even if a particular user wasn’t following you, they could still navigate to your timeline and see your public posts. As such, following doesn’t mean anyone can see information they already didn’t have access to.
Remember, make sure the information you post online has the default setting of friends only, and always be careful if you choose to post content publicly. For more information on locking down your Facebook account for ultimate privacy, read our guide here.