Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Managing the privacy settings on Facebook

Facebook has grown to be a ubiquitous network, crossing the boundaries between work and personal. For me, this has only occurred recently. I've tried to keep Facebook as a friends network, people with whom I have close ties or with whom I could imagine having close ties. There's a lot of crossover between work and personal in my life, but also many cases with a clear distinction.

Recently, I've started to get more and more friend requests from people I don't know very well, people I hardly know at all, or people who are firmly in the domain of work. How to manage this? It turns out the Facebook now has pretty good privacy management tools. Key is to group your contacts by "list". Here's how:

1. Select "Friends" from the drop-down menu at the top of your Facebook screen.

2. Select "Create a New List" and name it something like "Work". This will become the list of names to which content restrictions are applied.

3. You'll see a drop down box to the right of each of your friends' names. Click this and you should see the option to select the new list you made, tagging friends as members of that list for whom you want to apply common restrictions.

4. Go up to your menu at the top of your Facebook screen, and towards the right select "Settings/Privacy Settings".

5. Select "Profile".

6. There are ten options, each with their own drop-down list. For the options that you do not want this new "Work" list to have access, select "Customize" and at the bottom of the dialog box, where it says "Except these People" type in the name of your list.

7. Make sure you click "Save" at the bottom when you've finished all your customization.

Voila! You have now restricted access to those on your work list to particular places in your Facebook. Good options might be "Videos" and "Photos Tagged of You". You might also want to restrict their access to your "Wall Posts".

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