How To Keep Your Crazy Friends and Family From Ruining Your Facebook Life

4490322916_f0c9d8c236_zI’ve seen a lot of talk lately about the issues that sometimes come up for people who use Facebook.  One of the downsides of a social media site used by everyone is that you end up “friending” people from very different parts of your life.  It’s like a wedding reception with an unattended microphone.  Your boss is next to your drunken uncle, who is raving about Obama to your high school sweetheart and your mother-in-law and your kid’s friend’s mom, and all of this is taking place in front of your horrified clients (not to mention the potential employer who just looked you up on the internet).  It’s a mess.  Not everyone has good judgement or common sense.

When Google+ came out, I saw a lot of people talking about how great it is to be able to sort your updates for different people.  When you type a message into Google+, you decide who can see it.  Genealogy friends?  High school friends?  In-laws?  Whatever.  Here’s the thing, though:  You can do the same thing on Facebook.  The ability to decide who does (or doesn’t) see a particular status update has been there for a long, long time.  Here’s how to use it.

How to Create Lists on Facebook

  1. Log on to Facebook.  In the top right corner, click on Account.  A drop down menu will appear.
  2. Click on Edit Friends.  You’ll see a list of your Facebook friends.
  3. Click on the + Create a List button at the top of your list.  In the first dialog box, where it says “Enter a Name,” type in a name for your list (i.e. Genealogy Friends, Family, Parents of My Kids’ Friends, People Who Have The Same Political Views As Me So It’s Okay To Talk Smack Because They Will Agree, People Who I Never Ever Want to Discuss Politics With Because It Will Get Ugly, etc.).
  4. Click on the photos of the people you want to add to your list.  Scroll down to see more of them.  If you’re not sure how to divide people up, keep in mind that you can have people on more than one list.  For example, I have some HR friends and a high school friend who are into genealogy.  Some of those people are on overlapping lists, because I might want to share more than one type of post with them.
  5. Click the blue Create List button at the bottom.  Voila!  Your list is done.  Repeat this process until you have as many lists as you need to keep your clients from mixing with your drunken uncles.

How To Use Facebook Lists To Determine Who Sees What You Post

  1. Type in your status update as you usually do, but don’t hit Share yet.
  2. Click the little padlock next to the Share button.
  3. Click on Customize.  A dialog box will appear.  This is where the magic happens.
  4. Click on the Friends Only button.
  5. Click on Specific People.  Type in the people (or groups) you want to be able to see the message.  For example, if I’m talking about genealogy, I’ll start typing “Genealogy,” and the name of that list will appear in the drop-down menu.  Select the list or name you want.  You can have a multiple lists, or a mix of people and lists.  For example, I might choose my genealogy list plus an individual friend or two who might find the item of interest (because it relates to their hometown or whatever).  If I’m sharing a picture of my kids, I might choose my Family list, my Friends list, plus a few of my individual genealogy friends who have kids the same age as mine.  You have complete control over exactly who sees each and every update you post to Facebook.  In fact, you can also hide posts from specific people or groups, in the “Hide This From” box below.  Make a list of your perpetual trouble makers, or exclude just the one drunken uncle who still wants to see Obama’s birth certificate.  Whatever you need.
  6. Review the boxes to make sure you have the right people included/excluded. Click Save Setting.
  7. Relax and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from feeling like you might actually be able to keep drama off of your Facebook page long enough to eat lunch or something.  It’s not foolproof (because nothing is, especially on the internet). But it helps.

Photo by Ed Siasoco

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