Your boss (ex-girlfriend…kid-from-the-neighborhood) just “Friended” you. Now what?

So…you got a friend request from your boss (or an ex-girlfriend, or a 9-year old niece (who is too young to be on Facebook))

Ignore it, right? Wrong!

  • If you Ignore your boss …it may impact your job
  • If you Ignore your ex…you’ll look like you have something to hide
  • If you Ignore your niece…your family will wonder why you are being cold to a little girl

So what do you do? You can actually avoid the awkwardness of denying the invite (or “Ignore” in the passive-aggressive parlance of FB). Here’s how

  1. Categorize your friends into groups (I use Green, Yellow, Red…and TooYoungForFacebook)
  2. Set permissions at the group level so that Red people have one experience when visiting your page…and Green people another.

For example:

  • People in the Green group can see everything that I make public to Facebook
  • People in the Red group can see virtually nothing about me
  • Yellow? As you can imagine, that is “inbetween”
  • TooYoungForFacebook can see everything…except my status updates

Here are the steps:

1. Categorize your friends into groups

  • => Account => Edit Friends
  • Click on Create a List
  • A box will pop up which asks you to name the list…and then add people to it
  • Click on Create New List

2. Set the permissions

  • => Account=> Privacy Settings
  • Customize Settings
  • For each entry on that page, click on Edit Settings…and then select Custom
  • From there, the key is the Hide this from tool.(When you start to type the name of a group…Facebook auto-completes it for you)

For example: My Religious and political views can be seen by Friends (not Friends of Friends) plus my network. However, if you are Red or Yellow…you can’t see it

Yes…this one-time set-up takes a while…and if you have hundreds of friends, it may be too late for you to do this. But, once it’s in place…it’s actually very liberating.

In closing

  • When you accept a new friend request, Facebook will automatically ask you what group you want to put them in, so that’s cool.
  • You may need to  periodically “sweep through” your groups to be sure that members are appropriately classified (relationships change over time, right?)
  • You need to be a steward of your own data: There is nothing in Facebook which prevents people from being in two groups (or no groups) .
  • Finally: there is a very cool feature on that page (Choose Your Privacy Settings => Customize settings): the ability to Preview My Profile. It enables you to Preview how your profile appears to a specific person.
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