Identity and teh Internets (part 2)

(back to part 1 of this article…)

photo by Bert Kommerij

Being a curmudgeon, I don’t always like it when people write on my Facebook wall, and I don’t feel the need for every person I’ve ever met to see my childhood photos. I also like to use Facebook for social networking with disparate groups of friends, family, business associates, and random folks I’ve met. With this in mind, I’ve spent some time figuring out how to adjust Facebook’s privacy settings to better suit my tastes.

These settings are all hidden to others, so by revealing my method I am partially defeating the purpose of my own system. But in the name of knowledge-sharing (and against my tin-foil hat-wearing nature) I will do so anyway.


For those Facebook friends who may wonder what settings I’ve applied to them, I’ll say 2 things:

  1. Hardly anyone can write on my wall, so you probably can’t either.
  2. I’m basically experimenting, so these settings change every now and then, and are not very meaningful. At the moment, the people with the most access to my feed are family members.

Identity Management on Facebook

Note: This part of the article includes outdated instructions on managing your privacy settings on facebook. Please ignore.

This is a simple how-to on using the groups feature to manage who can and can’t see the different parts of your feed. Not everything can be controlled but this is the best way I know, considering the limited tools. It’s very subjective, and everyone will find their own way to do this. This is how I do it…

First some general advice:

  • Try and start as soon as possible, since it’s much easier to add a new friend to an existing group, than to add all your existing friends to new groups.
  • By default, everyone can see everything, so at the time you add new friends you’ll want to decide if they belong in a group.
  • These tools are not very robust, so there’s no easy way to know if everyone is in the right group.

Follow these steps:

On the Friends page:

  1. make 3 new lists: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3. You can change the names later if you want to have something more descriptive based on the actual settings.
  2. Use ‘Select multiple friends’ to add friends to the groups, based on which features the groups will NOT be able to see. ie. no wall, no status updates, no personal info, etc. (You may prefer to do this this step AFTER you edit the privacy settings page described below.)

On the Profile Privacy Settings page

  1. facebookcustomsettingson any category, click ‘Edit Custom Settings.’ Here you will see a screen that allows you to type in the name of any groups that shouldn’t see this feature. Adjust the settings to your liking.
  2. You can test the settings by typing a friend’s name in the field at the top of the page to see how your profile will look to them. (If they have been added to a group.)
  3. The photos section has an extra link: ‘Edit Photo Albums Privacy Settings’ where you can hide different albums from different groups.

On the News Feed and Wall settings page

This page is pretty clear, so I won’t bother explaining it.

So that’s pretty much it, until Facebook adds more, or I discover something else. You can experiment to see how you want to use it, and please add comments with suggestions for better ways to approach this. I’ll be updating this page and looking into how to best deal with Identity Management on other social networks as well.

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