Use lists to protect your privacy on Facebook

Use lists to protect your privacy on Facebook

Don’t want to post a status update to all of your Facebook friends? Find out how to filter your posts quickly and easily

It’s all too easy to amass an army of Facebook ‘friends’. There are your closest buddies, your oldest mates, and a gaggle of work colleagues to boot. But before you know it, you’ve accepted friend requests from acquaintances you barely know, not to mention your boss and – shock, horror – your parents. The question is, do you want everyone on your burgeoning Friends list to see every single status you post? Does your boss really need to see that picture of you at the Christmas party, and does your mum have to hear about every detail of your private life?

If you’d rather share your more intimate ramblings with a few carefully selected mates, it’s possible to do so by changing some of the settings on your account. You can filter who sees your content, making sure the wrong information doesn’t end up in front of the wrong eyes. You can either filter every single status you post or select suitable audiences for individual messages as you go. Here’s how.

1. Locate your privacy settings

Before you can set your privacy settings, you need to know where they are and it’s not as obvious as you might think. Log into Facebook and find your name in the top right-hand corner of the screen. Click on the downward arrow beside the Home menu and scroll down to ‘Privacy Settings’.

2. Statuses explained

By default, your status is set to be visible to all of your friends but you can easily change that. Choosing ‘Public’ means that anyone will be able to see your updates, whether you’re ‘friends’ with them, or not. Custom gives you more control; you can limit your status updates to a particular list or even specific people.

3. Create friend lists 

Before you can filter posts, you need to set up lists of people. Start by clicking ‘Home’, then choose ‘Friends’ in the left-hand menu (click ‘More’, if it’s not immediately visible) to go to your Friends page. Click on ‘Create List’, give the new list a name in the pop-up window, and you’re ready to begin adding names.

4. Add friends to lists 

When you start typing names, Facebook will suggest Friends from your main list. Select them from the drop-down list and repeat the process until you have added everyone you need. When you’ve finished, click ‘Create’ and you’ll be taken to a wall filled with Friends from the list you’ve just created. You can add new people to the list any time: return to the list by clicking its name on the left-hand menu and then start typing names into the ‘Add Friends To This List’ box in the top right.

5. Post to specific lists 

From now on, every time you want to write a status or share a file – such as a video or photo – you can opt to only send it to your list: click the ‘Friends’ button in the Status field and scroll down to the list. Select it and click ‘Post’. This status will only appear in the feeds of those you’ve added to the list. This will now become the default setting until you change it again.

6. Exclude specific lists from post 

What if you couldn’t say ‘no’ to your boss’s Facebook Friend invite but you don’t want them to see you moaning about work? Simply set up a list of the people you’d like to block from seeing any status updates and go back to your Privacy Settings, as outlined in step two. Click ‘Custom’ and add this new list to the ‘Hide This From’ option. You can also make sure that friends of friends who you tag in photos can’t see your post too. Just uncheck ‘Friends of those tagged’ before you click on ‘Save Changes’. 

* Main image courtesy of