I really like Facebook. I have reconnected with old friends, and stay in touch with current ones. My local comic book shop has a group on Facebook, and one of my friends sends out invitations for various store events. Facebook is a good time.
However, there came a point where I had several sets of friends. Some of my friends are very close to me and with whom I have no barriers or filters. I don’t mind if they see any of my data on Facebook. There’s a larger subset of friends I don’t see as much, or “super-acquaintances” whom I like I lot but aren’t fully integrated into my life. Then there’s a smaller set of people whom I don’t want to know everything about me. Most of those people are from work (I now work in a really corporate, stodgy environment), but there are some friends-of-friends or way old timers that I didn’t really want having my phone number or whatever.
I had no idea how to keep these people separate, so I just omitted a lot of information, like this blog address, or my AIM screen name, etc. That is, until I read the EXTREMELY excellent 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know article by Nick O’Neill. The first thing I did was set up a Friends List on Facebook for all of my co-workers, and then I shut off their access to most of my profile.
Here’s how you can make a friends list of your own, and how to secure parts of your profile from that list.
Step 1: Make the friends list
- Sign into Facebook.
- Click on the Friends link in the top navigation.
- Click the “Make a New List” button on the left hand side of the screen:
- Give your list a name (mine is called “Work,” I typed in “Gibberish” just as an example):
- Add people to the list by typing in their name. You’ll build a list of them like this:
Step 2: Restrict access to the list
- Go to your Privacy Settings, found in the Settings menu in the top navigation:
- Click the Profile option:
- Restrict access to your profile, area by area. Select Customize from the dropdown menu under each area.
- The top options allow coarse-grain access to each area. I have all of mine set to “Only Friends” to begin with, so anonymous people can’t see my profile. Furthermore, I added the “Work” friend list to the “Except These People” list. This is the important part that keeps people in your friend list from seeing your phone number, Web site address, etc.:
- Click “Okay.”
- Continue with your Contact Information, found on a tab to the right of the “Basic” tab.
Step 3: Test your settings
It took me awhile to get everything the way that I wanted it, so this functionality is both AWESOME and EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Look for the phrase “See how a friend sees your profile” and type in the name of someone on your new friend list. I entered the name of a particularly annoying co-worker who kept asking to be my friend because I am friends with the rest of his team. I don’t really care about him or his ice-skating children; I just added him to get the invites to stop.
I restrict access to the following parts of my profile from my co-workers:
- My status updates.
- Photos and videos that include me, with two album exceptions. Note that you cannot hide your profile pictures.
- Posts by my friends on my wall.
- My phone number, blog address, and AIM name.
- My relationship status.
- My religious and political beliefs.
You can further restrict things, but I felt that this was enough for now.
I am very happy to have found the friend list capability on Facebook. The Facebook privacy article by Nick O’Neill was instrumental in this, and a little trial and error went a long way. I hope my notes and screen shots are helpful if you decide to make a friend list of your own.