Use Facebook Friend Groups to Specify Privacy Settings


facebook-fFacebook gives users many tools for controlling what personal information is displayed to friends and others. But if you have lots of Facebook friends, you probably don’t want to create privacy settings for each person you know. However, Facebook allows you to create groups of friends, and you can specify privacy settings for these groups.

As an example, suppose you want to make your cell phone number available to personal friends, but you don’t want business contacts to see it. Here’s how.

Step 1. Assign Your Contacts to Friend Groups

facebook-add-listFrom Facebook’s Friends menu, select the “All Friends” dropdown. To the right of each friend’s name, you’ll see an “Add to List” option. Click the down arrow and select a list, or if you’ve never created any lists, type a new list name in the text box. For the purposes of this example, I’m creating two lists — “Business” and “Personal.”

Once you’ve assigned a friend to a list, the name of the list will appear below their name. You can add people to more than one list if you wish. Repeat for each contact in your “All Friends” screen. This process goes very quickly, and you don’t need to save your changes.

Step 2. Create Privacy Settings for Your Friend Groups

facebook-privacyGo to Facebook’s Settings menu and select the Privacy Settings dropdown option. Click Profile, then click the Contact Information tab. Next to the Mobile Phone listing, click the dropdown and select “Customize.” In the popup window that appears, select the “Some Friends” button, then type the name of the list of those who should see this data in the text box marked “Type the name of a friend or friend list.”

While you’re in this screen, you’ll probably want to select “None of My Networks,” since if you select a network, anyone in that network, even if they aren’t a friend, can see your information. And note that you can block specific people or lists from seeing this specific item by typing their names into the “Except These People” box. When you’re done, you’ll need to click “Save,” then “Save Changes” on the Profile Information screen.

Step 3. Edit Your Profile

From the main Facebook menu, click Profile. Underneath your picture at the upper left of the page, click “Edit My Profile.” Click the Info tab, then scroll down and click the gray “Contact Information” bar. Next to “Mobile Phone,” add your phone number in the format shown. Click “Save Changes,” then scroll back to the top of the contact data and click the Done Editing button.

facebook-view-profileIt’s sort of annoying that one has to go through so many steps to make such a simple change, but Facebook does provide a useful tool to make sure you’ve done everything correctly. Near the top of the Settings -> Privacy Settings -> Profile page, enter a friend’s name in the box marked “See how a friend sees your profile” and your profile will be displayed as that person sees it. You’ll see what groups and networks the person belongs to, and you’ll be offered a link to re-edit your privacy settings if necessary.

Share your Facebook privacy tips below.

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