Here's a worrying fact: your Facebook profile picture and cover photo are visible to anyone with an internet connection, unless you've set your profile to hidden.
Your profile picture is the square image that usually appears alongside your name on searches and on your profile page. Your cover photo, meanwhile, is the large image that sits at the top of your profile page.
And don't think you're safe just because you've set your photos as visible to friends only. Profile pictures and cover photos are set to public by default, meaning anyone can click on them for a larger version. They can also see any comments and likes.
This is great for someone looking to get back in contact with you, as it helps verify who you are. But some people may not like this – whether it’s for their personal privacy or because their kids are featured in the photos.
Facebook have already put in place new protections for people's profile pictures but the feature isn't available everywhere in the world. For now, you can follow the steps below to protect your profile picture and cover photo yourself, or watch the video.
Tip 1 – Set your Facebook profile to Private
If you’re worried about your privacy, then the best way to ensure your profile is locked tight is to set your entire profile to private – although people not already your friends will not be able to find you this way.
Go to the question mark icon situated at the top right and click Privacy shortcuts, followed by See More Settings.
Check that none of the sections are marked Everyone or Public in the third column – if they are, click on Edit at the end and set it to Friends or Friends of friends in the drop down box depending on what you want.
Do the same on the Timeline and Tagging page, which can be accessed from the left side menu.
Tip 2: Remove your profile and cover photos
Another option is to remove your profile picture and cover photo altogether.
On your profile page, click on your profile picture, followed by Options situated below the photo and then click on Delete this photo.
A box will appear asking you to confirm that you want to delete this photo. Click the blue Confirm button if you wish to proceed.
The process is exactly the same for the cover photo – simply click on your cover photo and you will see Options and Delete this photo once again.
Tip 3: Choose an obscure photo
Alternatively, you could protect your privacy by using an obscure photo without faces, such as a photo of your feet in the sand on holiday or a photo of your garden that can’t identify you.
This can be done by hovering over your profile picture until you see Update Profile Picture.
Click on + Upload Photo, select the photo you want and crop it before clicking the blue Crop and Save button.
The same can be done with your cover photo by clicking on the camera icon at the top left of your cover photo, followed by Upload photo…
Pick a new obscure photo and drag so it fits comfortably in the box, before hitting the Save Changes button.
Tip 4: Securing your Profile picture
Should you want to keep your profile picture, it’s worth locking it down.
You should be aware that a small thumbnail of your profile picture will remain visible but any comments and likes will be hidden.
To do this, find the question mark icon at the top right corner, followed by Privacy shortcuts, then See More Settings.
Under the first header Who can see my stuff? click on Limit Past Posts.
Read the explanation about limiting old posts carefully – this setting effectively changes everything you’ve shared on your account to friends only.
If you’re happy to proceed, click on the Limit Old Posts button.
A box will appear with a final warning. Click on the blue Confirm button.
Tip 5: Securing your Cover photo
Your current Cover photo cannot be hidden and anyone can see it full-size alongside any comments.
But if you followed Tip 4, all your previous Cover photos will be set to friends only at least.
If you’re unhappy that you cannot hide your Cover photo from public view, you could also consider Tip 2 or Tip 3.
Tip 6: Previous profile photographs
Even if you have a private setting on your photos already, all previous profile pictures and cover photos can still be seen.
When carrying out Tip 4, all previous shared content, including profile pictures and Cover photos, will be set to friends-only, blocking anyone you’re not friends with from seeing them.