After you’ve been using Facebook for a while, it can start to get awfully cluttered. I don’t just mean Facebook Inc. increasingly shoving ads, sponsored stories and ‘suggested Pages’ into our newsfeeds, I mean the things your actual friends are putting out there.
Sure you accepted their friend request and that definitely seemed like a good idea at the time, but do you really need to see all their pictures of that baby, cute though she is? What about those people who it would have been awkward to not accept the request from but you don’t think of as ‘friends’ especially, in terms of wanting to share all your status updates with – maybe your boss or certain relatives are in this category. And how about all those people you barely even know, but just have some vague connection to or did at one time… You don’t want to share the same things with them as you do with closer family and friends, unfriending might be seen as rude, and occasionally you might share something you want them all to see – so how do you manage?
Luckily Facebook has a solution for us: You can organise your friends into lists. Then when you want to share something like a status update or photo, you decide who you want to share it with.
Facebook creates a few default lists for you all ready to use:
Close Friends are those you want to share most intimately with, and also want to see the most from –(in fact when you add someone to your Close Friends list Facebook starts pinging you alerts every time they make a move on the site which can be very irritating…. From your news feed select Friends in the left column, click Close Friends to view the list, click Notifications top right and you can turn them off!). If you share a status update with this list only it tags the update as Restricted Post, so those receiving it are aware you haven’t shared it with your full list – incidentally this is one of very few indicators Facebook gives off that someone has put YOU in a list, the process is actually extremely discreet.
You have another default list too, Acquaintances – handy for those people you sort-of know but may not want to share your every waking moment with, or for those annoying folks who create profiles using a fake or business name maybe. Those with whom you may not want to share personal things with such as photos of your kids. When you are posting a status update, it’s easy to select in the Audience Selector to share with ‘Friends except Acquaintances’ – just click on the little Friends icon in the dropdown next to the ‘Post’ button (because you DO have your default set for ‘Friends’, right?), and choose this option from the list Facebook presents you with.
You will see far fewer posts from your acquaintances by default. Facebook wont bother sharing with you things they share that Facebook doesn’t deem ‘important’ – in practice this means you often won’t see something an acquaintance shares, unless other people start liking and commenting on it.
If you really don’t know or like someone but can’t avoid accepting their friend add, you also have a list called Restricted. This gives you a very arms-length relationship in terms of what they see from you: If you go to the status update box and hover over the icon for sharing with friends, you will see the pop-up indicating that this actually means ‘share with all friends except those in my Restricted list’ – so essentially folks you slip into this one will only ever see stuff you choose to share with Public rather than Friends. So your creepy new boss or annoying cousin will probably just think you don’t use Facebook very much – they will never know you have them in this list.
The other default lists that Facebook creates for you are smart lists, based on the Education, Work and Current City data from your About section (assuming you have completed these). So, you can choose to share stuff only with people you work with, or live near, if you choose. The ‘smart’ element of this list is that Facebook manages it for you entirely, it populates based on other people’s ‘About’ data automatically. These can be quite useful for sharing info about local events for example, that would be of no interest to your wider circle of friends in different areas.
You can even tweak these smart lists a bit to make them more useful and relevant to you – go to your Friends list via the left navigation menu, select ‘more’, then click on the name of the list you want to edit. Click ‘manage list’ at the top right corner, then look for the options available to edit the list settings. For example, if you are in a list connected to your school or university, you might want to select a relevant age range, so you only have people you actually might remember in there. Or for location-based lists you can vary the radius quite considerably – save the changes on your way out of the list management screen to make them stick.
Next week we will look at a few more tricks with lists and organising your Facebook friends even further.
Published in Costa Blanca News, May 17th 2013