Facebook Privacy Settings

Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Social Media

I recently opened up my Facebook to find the following post from a professional colleague:

“Just swapped pants in the middle of a bar in the Valley. Oh the wonders of Tequila”

First, I was jealous that my Saturday had not been so post worthy. Secondly, I wondered if she had clients or work superiors reading the same thing.

I had pretty much assumed that anyone with a Facebook account and a job knew about the old “Friend vs Work Profile”.  I chatted about this over the water cooler and got some surprising news — even tech savvy people don’t understand exactly how to do this. People had even opted out of using Facebook for fear of what business associates may stumble upon on their page. The truth is that Facebook can be a fantastic tool for both career-oriented networking and communicating with friends.

So, here is a quick guide of how to separate work life from private life on Facebook:

1)      Establish Lists of friends:

To do this, go to the Friends tab, and select all friends. At the top of your friend list you will see a “Create List option”.  I recommend three lists:

  1. Inner Circle: Really intimate friends you don’t mind seeing your newborn child, you really drunk, or every other personal detail of your life
  2. Acquaintances: Work associates you have lunch with, friends you haven’t spoken to since second grade, or your aunt.
  3. Work Contacts: people you work with (or want to), clients, or your really conservative parents.

2)      Put each Facebook friend into one of these categories. To the right of each Facebook friend, there is a drop down menu that says “Add to a list”. Drop down the menu, and add each person to a list.

*Remember that each time you add a new friend or accept a new friend request, you should add them to the appropriate list.

3)      Set Privacy Settings for Each List. To do this, select “Privacy Settings” from the “Settings” drop down on the top upper right hand corner of your profile. Click on Profile. From here, there are ten options of Facebook actions that you can select to allow or not allow for each group.

*If you want everyone but a certain group to be allowed to view something, select “Custom” from that items drop-down. A pop-up will appear allowing you to allow everyone but a certain list. For example, I allow everyone but Work Contacts to see my tagged pictures (the group of pictures friends post of me that I prefer not to obsessively monitor)

4)      Make sure your photo albums privacy settings are appropriately set. I had one of a particularly rambunctious Fourth of July that I would rather keep to the inner circle but had posted before I set-up my lists. So, we must go back and adjust viewing permission.

To do this, go to your profile. Click on pictures of me. There should be a group of tagged photos and albums which you have posted. Click on “Album Privacy” right about your albums. From here, select which groups can (or cannot with “Custom”) view each album. Save settings and voila.

So go out, swap pants at a bar in the Valley and maintain your professionalism Monday morning.

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29 Responses to “Facebook Privacy Settings”

  1. Aaron Dodez says:

    This is actually really good information – and I for one didn’t know you could set levels for each “group” of people you know. I have a few clients as Facebook friends, and sometimes I post things and after the fact think – “Please X and Y, don’t read my update today”.

    Nice work!

  2. Kate Shaw says:

    Aaron, I hope I do not fall into person X or Y! Not only can some of our information be too much, it can be unwanted. I for sure do not always need to read extremely personal details about hundreds of friends. Just the right and appropriate information about each group will be perfect.

  3. Mary Hayes says:

    Excellent information! I was not aware of this either, but you better believe I plan to re-organize my friend lists very soon. Thanks, Drew.

  4. Barbara says:

    I refer back to my original post on being a Social Media Phantom. While I know now that you can separate, so many people don’t that their red cup shots (you know the red party cups that are filled with anything but kool-aid on weekends) are seen by co-workers, potential employers, you name it. A little bit of decorum folks…or at least limit who you share your leisure time activities with.

    Thanks Kate!

  5. Erik Freeman says:

    One of the most useful posts I’ve read in a year. Thanks Kate! Seriously.

  6. Richard says:

    Great post Kate. Personally I think people should keep their wild party pictures offline, or wait to add clients + certain co-workers after you no longer work together professionally.

  7. frank lee says:

    what a great post. i knew you were able to customize privacy settings in facebook, but never knew exactly how. thanks Kate. Now can you help me with that genius sidebar thingy in my itunes?

  8. I’m not scared of my wild party pictures.

  9. Carrie says:

    Is it possible to choose on a per-post/update basis which lists an item should be visible to? Sometimes I want things visible to family or colleagues but not friends.

  10. Kate Shaw says:

    Hey Carrie,
    I wish! It was released for a little bit, like some horribly wonderful tease. There are thoughts that it will be re-released in some future redesign but nothing solid.
    Until then, here is something else, Google Goggles, to help those later regrettable actions (albeit email, not Facebook, but everything helps):

  11. Tom Banger says:

    So when I go through these steps even thou I have created lists of friends it doesnt give me the option to select which list I want to work with?

  12. Kate Shaw says:

    Yes and no Tom. It depends on your definition of “work” for Facebook. You can choose which lists you “work” with when working with photo albums, notes, status updates, videos, wall posts, etc. You can change these settings on a all or none basis. The exception being photo albums which you can change on a per album basis.
    I have been checking out different third party tools that would allow a user to choose on a per task basis (per status update for example) and will let you know if I do find one that works.

  13. Kate Shaw says:

    Update: Facebook is finally allowing the ability to post status updates only to chosen groups of friends (lists):

    The Facebook gods have heard our wishes!

  14. resan says:

    I like this weblog its a master peace ! Glad I discovered this on google . skyltar

  15. Lisa Türkei says:

    These privacy settings are still a mess. I recently tried to change mine and it took almost 10 minutes. However Facebook has developed a lot since 2009 and is still great network.

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