Facebook Boosts Privacy Controls

Click here for screenshotWhile I was an early adopter of many social networks, over the last year I've found myself using them less and less, and this has applied especially to Facebook. One of the big problems I've run into with Facebook is that, while my early use was pretty much limited to friends and family, over the last year I've had more and more business and professional contacts wanting to connect over Facebook. This had made me less likely to use Facebook freely, especially when it came to sending out personal information meant for friends but not for business contacts. My main solution to this issue had been to lock everyone who wasn't a close friend into my limited profile, giving these Facebook contacts only the most minimal view of my Facebook information. But in many ways this is a pretty blunt instrument as it doesn't allow different levels of access for different levels of professional contacts. But finally Facebook has updated their service to provide greater control over the levels of access one provides to their variety of friends and contacts. Recently it became possible within Facebook to set different privacy controls based on customer created friend lists.

Click here for screenshot
Facebook Privacy

While I was an early adopter of many social networks, over the last year I've found myself using them less and less, and this has applied especially to Facebook.

One of the big problems I've run into with Facebook is that, while my early use was pretty much limited to friends and family, over the last year I've had more and more business and professional contacts wanting to connect over Facebook. This had made me less likely to use Facebook freely, especially when it came to sending out personal information meant for friends but not for business contacts.

My main solution to this issue had been to lock everyone who wasn't a close friend into my limited profile, giving these Facebook contacts only the most minimal view of my Facebook information. But in many ways this is a pretty blunt instrument as it doesn't allow different levels of access for different levels of professional contacts.

But finally Facebook has updated their service to provide greater control over the levels of access one provides to their variety of friends and contacts. Recently it became possible within Facebook to set different privacy controls based on customer created friend lists.

Using this feature I could create lists such as Social Friends or Public Relations Contacts and then provide each list of friends with different levels of access to my profile (in this case meaning Social Friends get full access and PR contacts get very limited access).

Creating friend lists is as simple as naming a list and then adding friends to it. To control the privacy settings for the list, users click on the Privacy link in Facebook and then can control access to different areas of the profile such as photos and the Facebook Wall. Also, once the lists are created, whenever you accept a new Facebook friend you can simply drop them in the appropriate friend list.

It is of course possible for a friend to be in more than one list. Based on my tests it appears that if a friend is in two lists their access to your Facebook profile will be based on the stricter privacy policy, which I think is the correct way to go.

While I like this new feature in Facebook, it could go a little bit further. I would love to be able to create a completely unique profile for each list, even down to the core profile photo.

But for now I appreciate that Facebook has recognized that not all friends and contacts are created equal and made it possible for users to sort their Facebook friends in much the same way we sort our friends in the real world.