Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Facebook friend lists—what you need to know if your coworkers are your Facebook friends

Back in college, social media was just a fun place to virtually hang out with your friends. Ah, to be back in the days when The Facebook was only open to .edu addresses and we were so cool for having a profile. Our parents weren't on it. Neither were our bosses. These days your grandma can probably see what you're doing on Facebook, and in the workplace social media can get you hired or fired.

While in some workplaces it is uncommon to add coworkers on Facebook, in others it is part of the company culture to do so. I happen to work at the latter, where our CEO is often the first to friend you, and our HR director next. And they will hound you when you don't accept (all in good fun, of course). They're perfectly nice people, but I'm pretty sure they don't want to hear me gushing over my nephew's latest cute words or my husband's latest culinary masterpiece.

Enter: Facebook friend lists

Facebook friend lists allow you to segment your friends and apply global or selected privacy settings to those categories of friends. So you could group your family into one, and make sure they can't see your college photos. Or keep your coworkers from seeing what your brother posts on your wall. Once you get these lists set up, it's easy to keep them maintained--every time you accept a friend request there is an option to "add to list." Friends can be on more than one list.

Setting up a friend list
Choose "Friends" from the left navigation, and "Edit Friends" from that page.

Select "Create a List." You'll also see options to edit the lists your friends appear on from their listing.

Name your new list and scroll through to select friends or type in names to add them to the list. Click "Create List" to finish.

Using lists for privacy: Case-by-case
We'll get to global privacy settings next, but what if you have specific posts you want to keep from a certain person or group of people? You can do that right from your status message or shared photo/link. The options are by the lock icon in the share section of your profile.

You can choose to make it visible to limited people, or hide from select friends. For the hiding options, you can type in names of individual friends or lists. You can make this the default setting from here, or do it in your overall privacy settings. Make sure to "Save Setting" before you post.

Using lists for privacy: Global settings
To apply sitewide privacy controls using lists, select "Privacy Settings" from the top right menu.

To use lists, choose "Customize settings."

You will see a list of actions or areas of information, each with a drop down menu to the right. Select "Customize" to see the same customization menu as above (in the case-by-case section).

You can also select custom settings for each photo album you've created. At the bottom of the "Things I share" section in the above screen, there is a text link that says "Edit privacy settings for existing photo albums and videos." It will show you the screen below with the option to customize viewing permissions by album.

Well there you have it—a quick rundown of Facebook lists. As you can see from my screens above, I keep my Facebook pretty locked down, with many sections visible only to me. I don't put a ton of controls on lists otherwise, instead opting for case-by-case filtering or just simply making sure I don't overshare on Facebook in the first place.

Are you friends with your boss or coworkers on Facebook? How do you manage what is seen or not seen? Have you "liked" The New Professional on Facebook yet?


  1. well, i do have some co workers(icluding my boss0 on my facebook friends list...and i use the case by case privacy listing for maintaining my private life private!!!

  2. Great post, Angeline! I think the key is not over-sharing in the first place... everyone should have that rule! I think this will help a lot of people keep their private life "private", and their public life "public". Useful info, thanks for the post.

  3. Very good post! The days when Facebook was just your college friends are long gone, and I think that a lot of people are unsure about how to maintain a little privacy with their internet lives. Plus, the whole privacy settings thing used to be so unwieldy. At least FB is doing a better job now.

  4. I am not on facebook for a lot of reasons but I think this is great of your to put up. I know lots of people especially ones new to Facebook appreciate the tutorial.

  5. Great post, I'm going to share it with a few friends who never update their Facebook because they don't want everyone to see what they are doing. I might know tons about Facebook settings from work, but so many people don't have the time to figure all of this out themselves. I'm not friends on Facebook with any of my current coworkers or my boss, but I was in past jobs and used lists to target my updates so they didn't have to see countless updates about school but would see interesting and relevant articles I wanted to share on Facebook.

  6. It's a great post I am going to come back to so I can put people on lists and have a better control of what they can or cannot see.

  7. Oh, this is genius post. I'm not Facebook friends with my boss/coworkers, and I want to keep it that way. But in case I get a boss like yours, now I'll be ready!

    North Meets South

  8. OMG, this post is great! I didn't know it was possible to customize FB this much, thanks.

  9. Thats a really cool tutorial on how not to get caught out on facebook. I tend to favour twitter nowadays as less people like your boss and grandparents use it.

  10. Great post and advice! I just ran into this issue last week when my new boss friend requested me. I spent half an hour figuring out the best and most secure way to lock her out of certain things before hitting accept!

  11. Holy awesome. I'm sharing this with all of my grad school friends!

  12. @shooting star - good call!

    @ashley - so true! It's amazing what kinds of stuff people will post.

    @cubicle chic - I agree--it's so much easier to keep things segmented.

    @destrehan's daughter - I remember reading that on your blog! While I do tease my friends a bit who aren't on Facebook, I think it's nice that y'all stick to your guns and don't do something you don't want to.

    @keisha - you bring up a good point--there are sometimes things you do want to share, which is why lists come in handy so much. I like lists because you can have lists for all segments of friends.

    @lorena - glad I could help!

    @erica - good for you! it's definitely a slippery slope once you start friending coworkers (and there's not turning back while you still work there).

    @bajan beauty - you're welcome!

    @arash - Funny--both my boss and my dad are on Twitter. :)

    @amy - Yikes...always awkward in the beginning! Good call on checking before you accepted, though!

    @bibliomomia - thanks for passing it on! I think it's something everyone should know, too.

  13. Just saw this today, and it is fabulous advice Angeline! I'm going to re-tweet it for sure!

  14. Thank you for breaking it down and demystifying it for me. I always knew it was there, but it seemed too much to bother with. Now it seems a little less daunting. Thanks again.

  15. @ Danielle - You're welcome! It really isn't that hard, but it is a bit complicated if you're going through it on your own without knowing what to expect. Took me a few tries, too. :)


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