Creating Facebook friend lists: Step-by-step guide

FRESNO, Calif.

Chanel Ruiz-Mendez works as the development director for a valley non-profit, owns a side business with her husband, and manages a growing list of Facebook friends. She has nearly 700 friends but not all of them are given equal access to her status updates and photos. "I like to set a line between my personal and my professional, so those are the kind of folks where I go into the settings and say, 'Everybody can see the status, check-ins, except this particular person,'" said Ruiz-Mendez.

Facebook also allows you to hide what you share from entire groups of people, everything from your relationship status to photo albums. Katie Johnson, the Social Media Director at Fresno State, gives several presentations a year to staff and students, showing them how to fine tune their privacy settings. That includes creating friend lists. "I have a list called family. So my family gets to see the most about me... I also have a list called acquaintances. So there may be people I've met professionally, but maybe don't want them to see my tagged photos, or other information like who I'm dating, or my religion or something like that," said Johnson.

To make a list, first go to account settings. Then, click 'edit friends.' Next, create a list and give it a name. Now, select the friends for your list. It can be a time consuming process if you already have a lot of friends. "If you're someone that has 300-400 friends, it's going to take you an hour or two to go through and categorize your friends and really set up your privacy strategy," said Johnson.

Once you set up your lists, the next step is to customize your privacy settings. To do it, click on "privacy settings" in the upper right corner. You may be familiar with the standard settings: everyone, friends of friends, friends only. You'll want to click on 'customize.' Now, use the drop down boxes to customize everything you and your friends share. "If you go to custom, you can make this visible to the name of a specific person, or you can type the name of your list," said Johnson.

You can also hide things from specific people or groups, including photos that your friends tag you in. "Only my family and close friends can see my tagged photos. There are photos where I'm at a wedding, and I have a glass of wine in my hand, and I don't want students seeing that, and I definitely don't want my professional network seeing that," said Johnson.

You can also use those drop down boxes to edit settings for photo albums you've already added to Facebook and anything else you'd like to customize as you post it. Just look for the little 'lock' box next to anything in your privacy settings, status updates, or photo albums. You can also assign people to lists as you confirm their friend requests. Or, you can just ignore them. "If I wasn't friends with them in high school, I'm not sure I'd be friends with them now," said Ruiz-Mendez.

Still, Katie Johnson said the golden rule remains the same: If you don't want it out there, don't put it in cyberspace. "There's ways of getting around these privacy settings, so you should always be aware that anything you put out there could possibly get into the hands of someone you might not want to see," said Johnson. That's good advice, regardless of your friend count.

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How to make a Facebook friend list:

  1. Go to account settings
  2. Click on "Edit Friends"
  3. Create a list, and give it name
  4. Select the friends for your list

How to customize your list's privacy settings:

  1. Click on "Account" then "Privacy Settings" in the upper right corner of Facebook
  2. Click "Customize"
  3. Use the drop down boxes to decide who sees what information (posts, photos, etc)
  4. Click "Customize" again on drop-down
  5. To hide information from a group, type the list name in the "Hide this from" field
  6. Click "Save Setting"
  7. Repeat for other information

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