Many users of Facebook, after rushing to fill their list of friends, have inadvertently found their previously distinct worlds of family, friends, and work suddenly colliding.  Sometimes with serious consequences.  When you are connected to hundreds (sometimes thousands?) of people on the social network, it can be easy to forget who can see your boastful tales of ditching work or the photos of your late night escapades.

As a result, some people are becoming more cautious about who they “friend” on Facebook, particularly when it comes to authority figures like parents or a boss.  Fortunately, there is an easy way to add “Facebook Friends” with whom you’d rather not share everything.

First, should we consider perhaps that this increased level of visibility, that comes with a more social internet, gives us a reason to examine our words and deeds more carefully?  If there are things we wouldn’t want certain people know we’ve said or done, is it possible that those are things we shouldn’t say or do in the first place?  Nah.  Let’s just find a way around it.  Here is a way to keep select people from seeing more than what you want them to see.

Simply create a new “Friends List” with limited access to your information, and you can selectively add friends to this list when you connect with them.  To create the list, go to your friends page, click “Friends” in the left column and then the “Create New List” button on the top of the page.  In the pop-up window, enter the name of your new list (for example: “Limited”) and select any people you may already be friends with whom you’d like to add to this list.  Then click “Create List”.  Now go to your privacy settings page and click on the first item on this page, “Profile Information”.  You will see a list of the various items that you share on Facebook, such as your personal information, posts, posts, etc.

For each category that you’d like hide from select friends, click on the button to the right of it to reveal the privacy options such as “Everyone”,  ”Friends Only”, etc.  Since you want to hide this for a specific group, click “Customize”.  In the popup window, type “Limited” into the “Hide From These People” box .  When the full name of the list appears, just click on it so it shows like below.

Then just click “Save Setting”, and this information will now be hidden from anyone in your “Limited” list as well as anyone you add to this list in the future.  Repeat for any other items you would like restrict.  You can also go back to your privacy settings page and click on “Contact Information” to similarly modify settings for your various contact details such as phone numbers and email addresses. Privacy settings for your photos are set in the albums themselves.  So, just go to your photos from your profile page, and you’ll be able to modify the settings for each album.  Keep in mind that although you can hide photos that you are tagged in, you can’t hide other peoples photos of you that are not tagged. Thus, the privacy of those photos is determined by the owner’s settings.

That’s it!  Now whenever you become friends with someone new, before you click the “Send Request” or “Accept Request” button, click on “Groups” and select the “Limited” group if it is someone that you want to have minimal access.  That way, the privacy settings will be effective for them immediately when you connect.

So don’t snub your parents, they created you.  And you can be Facebook friends with your boss and coworkers if you are afraid of being left out.  Just be sure to use your privacy settings to control who sees what.

As a final word of caution, don’t rely on Facebook’s privacy settings as a foolproof safeguard of your life.  You never know where pictures and notes can wind up.  The internet is the new “permanent record”.  So, living your life as if your boss and your parents are watching may generally not be a bad idea.

For more tips on safeguarding your Facebook privacy, visit: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-steps-to-regain-control-of-your-facebook-privacy-part-1/.

What’s your policy on “friending” bosses and parents?

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