May 142010

Chances are you have a Facebook page, or if not you have probably thought about creating one. Privacy is a big concern now online, that’s why i’m sure you’ve seen those new public service commercials that show a young teenage girl either walking around telling a bunch of strangers random information about herself or having random people come up saying personal things about her to her.

Privacy isn’t just a concern for teenage girls, it is one that should only be shared by everyone who does anything on the internet. I’m not saying don’t share any personal information on the internet because frankly that’s what these sites were designed for. I’m saying be selective with who you share your information with.

Not everyone i’m friends with on Facebook fits into the same group, so I don’t want them all to be able to see every bit of information I post there. That’s why last year when I started getting really into using Facebook and adding a decent amount of friends I looked into the best way to keep my information restricted to those I wanted to see it.

Now I thought I had it working exactly the way I wanted until recently when I discovered that people I added would have access to certain information that I didn’t want them to until I added them to a specific list. So I decided to re-evaluate my Facebook privacy settings and as I did so to go through the steps and list them out here so that hopefully I can help others keep their Facebook pages secure and their information private.

The first step is to go under your account and select Edit Friends.  This will bring you to a simple to use interface where you can create lists and manage your friends and pages that are members of those lists.

Facebook Edit Friends

On the left panel of this page you will see a listing of all the friend actions you can take and below all your lists of friends.

Facebook Friend Selection

At the top of this page you will also see a button to create a new list.

Facebook Create New List Button

While creating a new List you will be able to select the friends and pages that you would like to be a member of that list.  You can add members here, but it’s not as smooth of an interface as doing it within the friends list where you can go through all your friends at once.  I would suggest creating all your lists at once and then going back through all your friends and adding them to your lists.  Make sure to make all the lists you can think of as once you set up your privacy settings it will be a pain to go back and fix them.

Facebook Create List

Once you have created all your lists you will need to go through all your friends and organize them into lists.  This can be done by going to All Connections in the Edit Friends section and then to the right of each friend’s name you will either see ‘Add to List’ or the number of lists they are currently in.

Now that you have all your friends into specific lists it’s time to go through and update your privacy settings based on these lists and what information you want each group of friends to see.  To do that go to Account and then to Privacy Settings.

Facebook Account Privacy Settings

Once you reach the Privacy settings you will see a screen similar to the one below.  The only two options that we care about for this purpose is Profile Information and Contact information.  If you are interested in the other three options I highly encourage you to delve into them further, especially the Applications and Websites section and you can have information being shared about you that you may not realized.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Once you go into one of the options you see the categories that you can manage permissions for.  My biggest complain here is that Facebook lumps Wall Posts, Notes, Photos and Videos all into one category, which irks me because I would much rather them have their own ability to have privacy settings set for.

Once you click on the option to the right of the category you will be presented with a drop down list with 4 options for sharing the specific information; Everyone, Friends of Friends, Only Friends and Custom.  For our example we will look into the Custom Option as the other three are pretty self explanatory and very broad.

Facebook Privacy Settings Groups

When you select Customize you will be brought to the following Custom Privacy Settings screen.

Facebook Custom Privacy Settings

Now here is where I made my original mistake, this screen gives you the option of selecting who you would like to make the category visible too and who you would like to hide it from.  Originally I had show it to Only Friends and then hide it from specific lists of people, the problem was when people would get added to my friends list they wouldn’t get properly added to the correct list so they’d have the ability to view information about me that I did not want them to.

So my new settings include allowing the specific lists of people rather than allowing everyone and then hiding from specifics.

Facebook Customized Privacy

As you can see my six friends lists are all listed here, three are in the list of being able to view and three are in the hide from section because I want to make sure that if I add someone to one of these groups they are absolutely hidden from seeing this category even if they accidentally get added to a different group.

So this is how I’ve switched my Facebook Privacy settings around and hopefully it helps at least someone else out there do the same to keep their information secure and out of the eyes of people they don’t want it to be seen by.

If you found this article helpful please share it with someone else so that they can be informed too.

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