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Why Does My Facebook Post Show as “Unavailable” to Some People?

The setting that’s easy for you to overlook.

Facebook locked
Sharing posts you find on Facebook often results in an "unavailable" message. That's Facebook respecting privacy settings.
Every so often when I post or share something to Facebook, I get people telling me that they can’t see it, or that it says something about being “unavailable”. I can see it just fine. What’s going on?

Facebook is doing what you, or the original poster, told it to do.

And it’s really easy to overlook what you’re telling Facebook to do.

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Making unavailable posts available

Each post you make has its own visibility setting. Visibility includes public, friends, friends-of-friends, and more. If it’s set to something less than public, then people who are not included will see your post as “unavailable”. The catch is that each new post inherits the previous visibility setting. If you set a post to be visible to only a restricted audience, then the next post you make will default to that same restriction unless you change it. You can change the visibility of posts you’ve already made to restrict access, or allow others to see them.

Facebook post visibility

To understand why posts are not be visible to everyone, we need to look at the options available when you create a new Facebook post — specifically what I’ll refer to as visibility.

Visibility options when making a Facebook post
Visibility options when making a Facebook post (click for larger image).

In the example above, when you’re about to make a new post from the desktop version of Facebook, you can set who is allowed to see the post (as well as whether that post should be on your timeline or as part of your “story”). The setting above has defaulted to “Public”, meaning the post is visible to absolutely anyone and everyone.

If I click on that, it expands to a drop-down list of other options.

Visibility options when sharing a Facebook post
Visibility options when sharing a Facebook post.

There’s actually a wide variety of choices, but the most common is the second: Friends. If this is selected, only your friends will see this post, and no one else. Those who are not your friends won’t get an error message; they simply won’t see the post.

Important: the default setting for this — Public, Friends, or something else — is whatever you chose for your last post. If you post something only to your friends, your next post will default to that same setting. If you want it to be public, you need to change it back.

Visibility of existing posts

You can check what the visibility of any post.

Globe icon indicating a public post on Facebook
Globe icon indicating a public post on Facebook (click for larger image).

In the example above, the post is public, indicated by the globe icon. The most common other icons are the silhouette of two people (indicating that the post is shared with a restricted audience), or a gear icon (which indicates a more complex sharing rule).

If it’s your post, you can change the visibility by clicking that icon.

Changing the visibility of a Facebook post
Changing the visibility of a Facebook post.

You can change the visibility of a post you’ve made pretty much any time.

You cannot change the visibility of the posts of others — and that’s where things get interesting.

Sharing someone else’s post

Sharing someone else’s post does not change who can see it. That’s actually an important part of privacy on Facebook; if you made a post shared only to your friends, you don’t want anyone else outside of the circle to have access to it.1

Here’s a post made by a friend of mine. She set it to be seen only by her friends.

A Facebook post to friends only
A Facebook post to friends only.

I can share this post if I like, but here’s the catch: even if I share the post, my share will still be restricted to only her friends. In other words, the only people who will see my share of her post are the friends we have in common.

That’s probably not what I intended, since her friends already saw it2. I wanted to share this with my friends.

I cannot. That would share the post outside of the limits specified by the original poster. The only options are to live with that or ask the original poster to make her post public, at which point my share of that post will take on the visibility that I specify.

Sharing into a group

The most common failure I see is this:

  • A friend makes a post and it appears on your timeline.
  • You share that post to a Facebook group you belong to.
  • You didn’t notice that the friend set visibility to “friends only”.
  • The post appears in the Facebook group, but with an “unavailable” error for everyone who isn’t a friend of your friend.
"Content isn't available right now" error
“Content isn’t available right now” error (click for larger image).

You have two options:

  1. Remove your share of the post. It didn’t work.
  2. Ask the original poster to make the post public, at which point the error will go away.

Content or attachment unavailable

An “unavailable” message can also happen when an original post is deleted. You share a post from a friend, for example, and that friend later deletes the post.

But by far the most common cause is that the original poster placed limitations on who was allowed to see it, and your sharing of that post tried to expose it to a larger audience.

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Podcast audio


Video Narration

Footnotes & References

1: That’s not to say they still couldn’t screen-capture it or copy it some other way, though.

2: Ignoring Facebook’s capricious algorithm that may not show people everything.

28 comments on “Why Does My Facebook Post Show as “Unavailable” to Some People?”

  1. Thank you for this article. I’ve been using Facebook for a number of years and did not realize why sometimes posts are not available for me to see, or some that I share cannot be seen by my friends. Much appreciate this information!

  2. A similar scenario is sometimes, when I’ve wanted to share someone’s post, there no Share button because the original poster has restricted the post to only friends.

  3. Another variation that Leo missed. Photos in a post are treated differently. Example: I take a photo and put the photo in a post with some comments about the photo. I make the post for friends only. I then share the post with my neighbourhood Facebook group. Some people will see the comments and the photo; the rest only see the comments and a message about content unavailable. The difference is that those who see both are friends; those who only see comments are not. The photo will always remain the original privacy settings, even if it’s your own photo that you are sharing. It seems shared comments, if your own, are treated like you posting the comments directly to the group.

    • Actually as I understand it this is really the same thing. A photo is a “post” all to itself, and has privacy/visibility settings. Even when you share that photo — your own photo — it still retains the photo’s privacy. You’d need to go back to the photo, not your share, to change the visibility.

  4. Another reason for seeing the “Content isn’t available right now” error is if you are in Europe. Many websites are blocked for Europeans. If Europeans want to see a blocked Facebook post, they can use a VPN service that hides their location.

  5. I’m pretty sure there’s a new FB bug where these types of “updated their status” posts are simply just always hidden. I can see their “who they shared it with” (“Friends”), and I’m in their friends list, and they JUST posted it two hours ago, and it says content not available. When I asked the person about it, they said the same thing has been happening to them for other peoples’ posts like that too. I think something is wrong with FB at the moment and whenever you share a sort of “is at the so-and-so diner with so-and-so and so-and-so” they’re just literally always hidden, right now. That’s my guess, at least.

  6. i have played with my privacy settings for an hour, Iam posting items from marketplace to my timeline and my girlfriend can see some but not all, they are all the same and settings haven’t changed, i even deleted the post and tried again, i do not understand?? help me

  7. I am having this “content not available” issue, but I am a friend of the one posting the picture, I’ve been tagged in it & everyone else can see it. So any ideas what is going on? This is the second time this has happened. Jcclan

    • Something about the security/visibility settings on that post prevent it from being seen by you — that’s all I can say. Just because you’re a friend of the poster doesn’t mean that you automatically get to see everything. They can define the audience for each post as they see fit.

      • She has not changed any of her settings. It only happens with her pictures and nothing else. I found that she has posted several pictures lately that have the same message. She says she hadn’t touched the settings.

          • Even at that, which I don’t see what picture you mean, she has not changed any settings. One day I could see her pictures the next I couldn’t. No one else is having trouble seeing them, just me. And just her personal pictures that she post. I can see all comments & all the shared posts. Also, I just went back on her page. I can see her videos, but I can’t see any of her pictures even from further back when I could see them. So there are ones that I could see that I can no longer see.

          • The picture I mean is the very first picture in the article at the very top of this page. Unfortunately I have no other explanation for what’s happening. Sorry.

          • I have the same issue. I tagged my wife in a post and changed the privacy back and forth from public to friends only and she doesnt see the post, not even when viewing my profile. She sees other posts of mine but not this one.
            The engagement is much less on this post that it should be so it appears that some people see it while others don’t.
            When see clicks on a direct link to the post it says the content is unavailable.
            The only thing I can think of is that we were both outside of the country (US) when I originally posted it.
            Not really looking for an answer here. I’ve given up on this one and chalk it up to a temporary glitch.

          • It’s also possible that Facebook is shadow-banning the post for some reason. (Letting it post, but not showing it to people.) If that happens I’m sure it’s for a complex variety of reasons that Facebook would never really enumerate.

  8. This is a slightly related but maybe off-topic question. Why when some people make a post on their timeline does it say “Jane Doe ‘updated her status'” and on other posts they’ve made it doesn’t say this? I’ve been playing on my wall for an hour trying to make a post that says “updated his status” beside my name with no luck.

  9. Hello,

    I am posting from a Blog to a FB page and group, and I’m receiving the Content isn’t available right now” error. It’s my post, to a page and group that I’m the admin. So I don’t understand why all of my recent posts all of a sudden show up with this error?

  10. When friends make posts on Instagram and share it to Facebook I can see the written post but not the pictures. It says content isn’t available right now. I have tried facebooks solution to fix and it didn’t help.

    • I am getting the same. I am unable to see my sons One year anniversary pics that my DIL shared form instagram to facebook. There HAS to be an explanation for this… I have been dealing with this for about a year on things and it has NOTHING to do with the settings of pics or pages!

      • Did you read the article? I run into this ALL THE TIME with Instagram posts shared to Facebook. EVERY TIME all I need to do is go to the post on Facebook and change the visibility to public.

  11. Here’s my scenario. My boyfriend posts a photo of himself. I cannot see it. He asks why I haven’t liked it yet and this is where I find out Facebook chooses what I cant see. He has it set to public, even tags me in it and in the comments. Nothing. It gets over 150 likes but I cant see it. I’m not on any restricted list nor am I blocked. This happens randomly and I’m not sure how often, because it’s always a public post or a friend asking why I haven’t liked it yet.


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