Control your Facebook newsfeed, choose who sees each post

If you’re already on Facebook, it’s too late to keep Mark Zuckerberg and his cronies from knowing everything about you. But if you want some options for choosing which friends you want to hear from or share with most, I’ve found a workaround. In this post you’ll find steps for creating custom newsfeeds (so you only see updates from people you choose), and for creating custom audiences for your status updates, and Timeline posts (so you’re only sharing certain types of updates with certain groups).

While I really admire people who keep their Facebook lists pruned to a small group of close friends, or to only include people with whom they interact offline, I am too much of an extrovert to make that happen. I like operating in several wide social circles at once, both for fun and for getting support or ideas on projects.

But at the same time, it’s overwhelming to scroll through a newsfeed that includes hundreds of acquaintances. And it’s awkward sharing photos, links, or opinions with all of those people at once. In real life, people usually operate differently when they’re in different social groups. So, to me, it makes sense to do the same online. If you’re familiar with +Google, these instructions basically allow you to create +G Circles on Facebook. (Is there anyone else out there who loved +G, but couldn’t find a good use for it?) This approach is especially useful for:

  • Sharing or reading family-only updates
  • Sharing updates with certain groups of friends (without worrying about the response of your grandparents, coworkers, etc.)
  • Sharing with or reading about people in different geographic areas (my friends in California don’t need to hear about events happening in Oregon, do they?)
  • Sharing or reading personal updates between your close friends, but not your acquaintances or professional contacts
  • Updating people who are attending one large event
  • Promoting your business, blog or projects
  • Sharing links or opinions related to politics and religion (If you want to avoid a firestorm, just preach to the choir and share these with a list of people who you know agree with you)

Keep in mind that I am not an expert of any kind when it comes to coding or back-end IT stuff. I can’t guarantee that Facebook won’t suddenly revamp its settings and render these instructions useless. But I’ve been using this method since 2010 and it has worked well for me.

Create a Facebook Friend List

  1. From any FB page on the lefthand sidebar, hover your mouse over the gray title that says “FRIENDS.” Next to it, the word “MORE” will appear.
  2. Click on “MORE” This will take you to a page where you’ll see all the lists that you or FB have created for your account.
  3. If you like one of the lists that FB created for you, you can hover over the little pencil icon on its left and click “Favorite.”
  4. If you think their “Close Friends” and “Acquaintances” lists aren’t accurate, you can hide them. Hover over the little pencil icon on its left and click “Archive.”
  5. To make your own list, click on the “+Create List” button at the top. It should walk you through the steps from there.

To see a newsfeed that only has updates from a certain Friend List: Click on that list name on the lefthand sidebar. (If it’s not showing up, click “MORE” again, then click on the list you want.) This will show updates from that list only, and they’ll be in chronological order.

To share one of your status updates or Timeline posts only with specific Friend Lists:

  1. Click on the bottom-right “Friends” button in the status update box.
  2. To share with only one list, click “See all Lists,” then click the list you want.

To share a status update or Timeline post with multiple (but not all) Friend Lists:

  1. Click on the bottom-right “Friends” button in the status update box.
  2. Click “Custom.”
  3. Under “Make this visible to…” click the dropdown box, then “Specific people or lists.”
  4. A new box will appear under the dropdown box. Type in the list names you want to share with. Hit Save.

If you have any tips to add to these lists (especially tips for making the process more streamlined), please share them in the comments.

Here’s to sharing! (And choosing how we share.)

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