4 Steps to Facebook Privacy

Did you know that you can select what groups of people can view different parts of your Facebook profile? By using listing and customized settings, you can help keep your professional life and personal life separate.

At a recent event, I ran into several people who expressed apprehension when it comes to getting involved in Facebook professionally. What if the wrong person sees the wrong thing? How can I keep my personal and professional life separate? While, it’s not possible to plan for every contingency, there are ways to ensure that your information is protected. Here are a steps you can take to sure you have good Facebook hygiene.

1)    Set Lists. Before we even talk about privacy settings, make lists of your different kinds of friends. For example, my lists are: Personal Friends, Family, Co-Workers, NCRA Networking, and ASAE Networking. Be sure to create at least one list for people you only want to interact with professionally.  By making these lists, you will enable yourself to create personal privacy settings. Too create a list:

  • a.    From your “Home” tab, click on the “Friends” link on the right hand menu.
  • b.    Then, click the “Edit Friends” button that appears at the top of the page.
  • c.    Click “Create List” at the top of the next page.
  • d.    Enter the name of your list and select the people who belong to that category.

2)   Use Customized Privacy Settings. Once you have created your lists, you are now ready to customize your privacy settings. Based on the lists you created, you can allow different levels of access to different groups of people. To do this:

  • a.    Click on the “Account” button in the upper right-hand corner of your Facebook homepage and scroll down to “Privacy Settings.” You will then see a basic matrix of what parts of your profile are available to the public as well as different general groups of people.
  • b.   Click on the “Customize Settings” link at the bottom of the chart.
  • c.    You will then see each element of your profile listed with a drop down menu. You may use the default settings “friends, friends of friends, etc.” Or, you may choose to allow only certain lists view this information. Click on the drop-down menu, and scroll to “custom.”
  • d.    You will then see an option to make this section of your profile visible to only certain groups. To select a specific list you created in section 1, simply type in the name of the list. Once you have done this, only the people you selected to be members of this list will see this information.
  • e.    If you only want to hide information from specific people, you can list them out individually in the “hide this from” section. However, I have found it easier to simply use listing.

3)    When someone friends you, add them to a list. When you create a new friendship on Facebook, you have the option to add them to one of your pre-created lists. Once you have this system in place, you can vet all new contacts and add them to their appropriate location.

4)    Use Common Sense. Just because you’ve created these lists, doesn’t mean that you now have a blank check to post photos of yourself doing tequila shooters without anyone knowing. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but my philosophy is never to post anything that I wouldn’t mind either my boss or grandmother seeing.

My only disclaimer with any of these steps is that Facebook has a tendency to change its layout from time to time, so the exact order of these steps may change. However, they are usually found in the same general area.


About Sara L. Wood
Sara L. Wood is the Manager of Digital Communications for a national non-profit association. Specializing in social media and digital marketing, she is a regular magazine columnist and serves as her company's resident expert in all things online. When not working for her association, Sara manages social media efforts for local non-profit groups in the Washington, DC metro area. Also a music and sports enthusiast, readers may see rogue posts on Led Zeppelin, Dream Theater, golf, and the Philadelphia Eagles. Disclaimer: This is Sara’s personal blog, and all opinions expressed are her own. Any references to her day job are purely anecdotal and are not affiliated with the Association.

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