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5 Steps to Managing Privacy on Facebook

Posted By Carie Schelfhaudt, McDougal & Duval, Monday, July 11, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The social media revolution exists at the intersection of our personal and professional lives. Being socially immersed in the online world creates challenging boundary issues for workers whose jobs require them to be present in online communities, but hesitate to have their personal lives revealed with coworkers on the Internet. Blurring the lines between our working and personal lives could have negative ramifications if not treated with care. Choreographing a unique dance around the line between your work and personal lives will help to extinguish any concerns as we nudge into this new medium of communication.

Your Facebook friends are likely a carefully compiled mix of friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances. Because of this, the content you generate on Facebook may not be appropriate for all of your friend circles. For instance, you may not want to share photos from your high school reunion with the CEO of your company. If you've hesitated recently about hitting the accept button on certain friend requests, you may want to consider increasing your privacy settings.

Google+ (Google's "answer" to Facebook) has recognized privacy as a huge issue for adults in the working world and has created drag-and-drop friend circles to allow you to only share certain content within each friend circle. This feature allows you to have a diverse range of friends and simultaneously protects you from over-exposing your private life. However, what many consumers don't realize is that you can categorize your friends just as easily on Facebook. Here's how:

  1. Start by taking a good look at your current friends and those who want to be friends with you. Online and offline, we know people in different contexts and share information with them in that context, and sometimes that context alone. Have you not accepted certain friend requests? And for what reason? When you take a good hard look at your friends, you will realize the diverse mix of friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances, yet they all see the same information on your profile. Think about ways to group your friends based on the content that you are wanting or willing to share with them. If you really don't want every single one of your friends to be updated with photos of your anniversary barbeque or you think Aunt Helen will flinch if you post an edgy blog entry, creating friend lists will help you mind the gap between friend circles.
  2. Analyze the type of content you share with your online community. Do you often share pictures or videos that are appropriate for all parties? Start looking at your content from the perspective of your friends; through their eyes. Really try to understand why they friended you in the first place. Not only will your friends appreciate the gesture, but you will have the added benefit of protection from friends that you don't know as well as others.
  3. Start building simple friend lists. Choose friend lists/categories that are easy to remember. Don't get bogged down with too many lists because it will be hard to remember the privacy settings for each list. Two or three lists are usually sufficient. To access your Friend Lists from your Facebook homepage, click on "Friends," then "Manage Friend List." From here you can create a new list and add friends to that list. Once created, Friend Lists will be displayed in the left-hand navigation for adding or deleting friends. By default you will see a list of friends not currently on a list.
  4. To change the permissions for a friend list, click on "Account," then "Privacy Settings." From here you can click "Customize Settings" to see a list of the different content that is available for your friends and networks to see on Facebook. Selecting the "Customize" option from the dropdown menu for each area of sharable content will allow you to manually type in a list of friends that you would like to hide from seeing the respective content.
  5. Privacy settings change. Many times, they change with little to no notification. Be smart about the content you put on the web and be sure to check your work. Periodically view your page as others would to make sure that the security settings are still in place.

Continue the conversation online feel free to email me directly atcschelfhaudt@mcdougallduval.comwith any questions or comments.

Tags:  facebook  privacy  social media 

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