Friday, October 16, 2009

Managing Your Facebook Experience

More and more, people are beginning to realize the benefit of using Facebook as a networking tool beyond just family and friends.  Today, so many genealogists are hopping on the Facebook bandwagon to connect with other genealogists.  But at the same time, people also want to use Facebook to be, well, social with family and friends.  So how can you effectively utilize Facebook for both personal and networking purposes?  The answer is quite simple:  filters.

When Facebook redesigned the look and feel of the site in March 2009, more user-control over various elements came with it.  The ability to granularly decide who sees what was finally possible. 

So how can you take advantage of this?  To start, you must first have your friends arranged into lists.  Then, to control the content those lists see, you need to change the privacy setting for each Facebook application.  Likewise, you can filter whose statuses you see on your main page.

Friend Lists

I have six different lists as follows:  Following, Friends, Family, Professional, Genealogy, and Writing.  Three of these categorize my friends by type, while two are reserved for friends that share special interests; the “Following” list I will explain later.  You might start out with three (friends, family, and genealogy) as you can always add more lists later.  Also note that a person can appear in multiple lists.

To create a Friend List:

  1. Click on the Friends button in the left-hand navigation menu.
  2. Click the Create New List button.
  3. Enter a name for the list.
  4. Choose the friends to include in that list.

Tip:  When adding a friend or accepting a request, place them in the appropriate lists at that time.

Application Privacy Settings

Privacy settings for applications differ from that of your overall account.  Essentially, you can dictate per application who can see what.  For example, let’s say you use Notes to share personal information that perhaps you wouldn’t want your genealogy contacts to see.  In this case, you would set the Notes settings to allow only those from the friends and family lists to view your notes.

To change application settings:

  1. Go to the Account drop-down menu at the top of the page (right-hand side).
  2. Choose Application Settings.
  3. Choose Edit Settings for the application you wish to change the setting for.
  4. Under the Profile tab, change Privacy to the appropriate setting (e.g. Everyone, Only Friends, etc.).  You can choose Customize if you want to exclude certain people or friend list(s).

Filter Who You See

When you have a lot of Facebook friends, it can be cumbersome to keep up on everything.  This is where the friend lists become even more invaluable.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a list called Following.  In that list, I place the people that I really want to keep track of.  It’s a mixture of family, friends, and genealogy contacts.  Instead of the default News Feed, I choose Friends from the left-hand navigation menu, then choose the list Following.  I can check out the statuses of other friends by clicking on another list in the menu.

Tip:  You can also filter out certain applications.  If you don’t want to see who’s Superpokin’ who, hover over the top-right corner of the status and chose the appropriate action from the Hide menu that appears.

There you have it.  A way to keep your personal and networking life separate on Facebook and to see only what you want to see when you want to see it.

Note:  This post was updated on 23 April 2010 due to interface changes FB made a few months ago.



Thomas MacEntee said...

Great post Julie and very helpful to genealogy folks new to Facebook - it can be overwhelming when you first join as to how things work and what others can and cannot see.

GrannyPam said...

I have been using this feature to, but most often I use the "blocking" capabilities to be sure that I don't see every crazy quiz my crazy "friends" post. And to make sure I don't have to find out what Barbie doll they are.

Janet Iles said...

Thanks for sharing this useful information.

Amy (We Tree) said...

Excellent post. Some of the genealogists I talk with don't like Facebook because they feel overwhelmed by everything coming at them. I try to show them (my mom included) how to hide, filter and pare down all that information into manageable pieces. Your post fits nicely into that so I'll keep it saved for reference.

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