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Nathan Snell

How to control your privacy on Facebook using Lists

April 3rd, 2009 by Nathan Snell

Let’s face it. On Facebook, not all people are created equal, so we might want to have some discretion for just who we want to be seeing what information about us (especially true for students seeking jobs). With this in mind, and after doing some research on just what kind of Facebook Privacy tricks there are, I put together a way of using Facebook Lists in conjunction with Privacy Controls that let’s you control just who sees what.

How to create a Facebook list

First, let me explain what you’re really doing: You’re creating a list of friends who are blocked from seeing parts of your profile. The control of what you can prevent people from seeing is fairly in depth, allowing you to be as specific as restricting friends to only being able to view a certain photo album, or a little more broad in preventing them from seeing all your status updates.

Facebook List Privacy

Step 1. Creating a new privacy list
When you first log in to Facebook, you’ll land on your stream page. If you look to at the left-hand column, you’ll see categories in your news feed like “News Feed”, “Photos”, and “Events”. Now, if you look at the bottom of that section in the image above, you’ll notice a link that says “+create”. Click that, and we’ll begin creating our first list!

The window that pops up will prompt you for the name of your new List. Let’s call our list “Business List”. Just type that into the edit box that’s available, and hit enter when you’re done.

Add Users to List

Step 2. Add people to your new privacy list
As you can see from our new Business List list, Facebook gives you a nifty little area to add or remove people from your list. To start adding people to it by simply typing in their name. Once you’ve typed in their name, either click on the checkbox to check it, or hit enter and it will automatically add them to the list. When you’re done, Just click the “Save” button.

Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Step 3. Controlling the privacy of your new list
So far we have only created a new Facebook list and added the people we want to be on that list. Now is when we can actually control what the people on that list see. To do this click “Settings” then “Privacy Settings”

Here we can see a list of all the different areas we can block people from seeing. In this example, we’re just wanting to control what our new “Business List” sees on our profile, so click “Profile”.

Here I want to make it so anyone who is on my “Business Friends” list cannot see anything from my photo album. To do this, click on the drop down box next to “Photos Tagged of You” and then on “customize…”.

Don't allow people from Business List access to your albums

The image above should look something like the new window that will pop up for you. Look down at the bottom where it says “Except These People”. That is where you want to type the name of your privacy list, in our case “Business List”. You’ll notice it auto-completing forĀ  you. In addition to lists, you can add friends in this area, too.

Once you’ve done that, click save, then save changes on the “Privacy > Profile” page you are on, and you’re done!

Editing a previously created privacy list

Of course, one of those wonderful people in your “Business Friends” list might make it to your “out-side-of-work friends” category. In this case, you’ll want to remove them from your “Business List” privacy list. Fortunately, this is very easy!

Go to your Facebook Stream again, and click the “+create” link again. It will pop up that box again. When it does, instead of typing anything, click on your existing privacy list name instead of typing in the name for a new one, and then click edit.

Have any other Facebook tips? Let us know!


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  • Dee

    Is there a way to control who sees you online? As in turning off your gren light on Facebook?

  • Intern

    Just click on chat - options and then select go offline.

  • Thanks, Nathan. This overview was really helpful with a training I gave for my company on Facebook Privacy. It was easy to understand and will be very useful going forward.

  • Debbie Elliott

    Hey Lawrence, thanks for the comment!

    That's great, I am glad you were able to use the post!

  • Debbie Elliott

    Glad we could help, Steve!

    I think this post becomes even more relevant as Facebook begins to open up their users information more.

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