How to prevent over-sharing on Facebook

Ever stop and wonder before posting whether or not this is something that should be posted on Facebook or not?  Do you want to make sure those party pictures don’t end up in the wrong hands?  Or your ‘Calling in sick to go boating on Lake Lanier’ status doesn’t land on your boss’ feed?  Or you NEED more Mafia members / Farmville neighbors but are nervous about befriending people without really knowing them?

Facebook has security settings that allow you to prevent this, and it’s implemented through their ‘lists’.  Lists are awesome because they have a lot of uses.  You can use them to filter the statuses that you see.  For instance, I have a ‘Mafia’ list that has all the friends that are playing Mafia Wars in it.  When I’m ready to help them with their game, or see their status I click on ‘Mafia’ as you can see in the picture below.  But they don’t clutter up and keep me from seeing the important statuses from my local friends, or family.

I can also use that list to screen my information so these semi-strangers on the internet can’t get my cellphone number, address, or other information that might be useful to nefarious intentions. 

Here’s how:

In order to make a new list you click on the ‘more’ at the bottom of the list of feeds on the left hand side of your Facebook page:

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Then choose ‘Create New List’

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The ‘Create New List’ dialog box will come up.  Enter the name you want for the list where it says ‘Enter a Name’, then start typing the name of your friend that you want to include in the list in the ‘Start Typing a Name’ box.  When you see the friend appear, click on it and it will appear highlighted with a check next to his name, like ‘A Christmas Story’ does in my example.    You can choose as many as you want, keep typing and selecting.  The number of friends you have selected for that list will appear in parenthesis next to ‘Selected’, and clicking on that word ‘Selected’ will show you all users that will be associated with that list.

Note that when you’re in this ‘more’ mode that the three lines to the right of the list names allow you to rearrange them if you click and drag.  Once you have your lists created, click ‘more’ and click and drag the list names around to put the more important ones on top.  This also allows you to look at just Status Updates (Facebook’s ‘old view but was the new view that people were willing to boycott Facebook over’ view ) or the News Feed (Facebook ‘really old view, but is now the new view that people complained about when it changed from the old view, to the really old view, and they thought they were complaining over a new’ view).

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When you’re finished click the ‘Create List’ button.

Once your list is created, hold your mouse over ‘Settings’ in the upper right portion of the Facebook homepage, and then click on ‘Privacy Settings’.

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Then choose ‘Profile’ from the Privacy screen:

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You will now see the Profile screen.  In order to make sure certain lists cannot see an item you click the drop-down list next to that item, select ‘Customize’ and enter the name of the list you want blocked from that feature under the ‘Except These People’ field:

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Once you click Okay, be sure to click ‘Save Changes’ at the bottom of the Privacy screen.  Once you do that, no members of the Mafia or Games lists can see my personal information.

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