Customizing Your Facebook Status Update Audience

Let's face it; We all use Facebook. Heck, that's probably where you saw the link that brought you here. One of the greatest benefits of Facebook is that it allows us to remain socially connected to family and friends who may be many miles away. However, this ability also comes with responsibility. Most of us understand that posting can be a delicate balance between sharing and oversharing.

A recent message from a friend got thinking about a feature of Facebook that has been around for some time, but many people may not use or even know about.  It's something that I find incredibly useful and important to the way I use Facebook. That feature is the ability to custom-tailor the audience for individual status updates.

Managing Friend Lists

While it is possible to filter updates from individual friends, lists of friends provide the best way to quickly target posts to just the people that you want to see them. Start by expanding your list of Friends. From your main newsfeed page, look at the bottom of your profile for a "FRIENDS" heading. If you don't see it, click the option for "MORE▼".

With the FRIENDS section displayed, hover over it with your mouse to get the MORE link and click it. This will take you to the Friends Lists page. From here you will notice that Facebook has already created some lists for you based on your connections with your friends. For instance, you'll see lists based on your education and employment history. This is a good starting point. I use these lists as the basis for my organization. It's important to review the lists and add or remove friends from them as needed.

Modifying a List

To edit a list, click on its name. This will open the news feed page dedicated to the list you selected. From here, you'll only see updates related to the members of the list (a pretty useful feature in itself). This page also gives you a button to manage the list. Click the Manage List button to get started. To add or remove members of the list, click "Edit List" to get a popup window showing the list's members.

Removing Members

To remove a list member, hover over his or her picture and click the X that appears in the upper-right corner.

Adding Members

To add someone to the list, click the "On This List" drop-down box and select Friends. From here you can easily add and remove friends from the list by clicking their profile pictures.

Create a List

To create a new list, return to the FRIENDS screen and click the [+ Create List] button.

From the new popup window give your list a name, select the members you want to add and click [Create].

Delete a List

To delete a list, click the blue pencil icon to the left of the list name and select Delete.

Now that we have our friends organized into lists we can get to the business of how these lists help us target our status updates.

Targeting a Status to a Specified List

  • Type the status update that you want to send to a limited group of friends.
  • In the bottom-right corner of the update box, look for the drop-down list that shows the scope of the update. (It will currently display whatever your default is set to; Friends, Public, etc.)
  • Click the drop-down. Click the "See all lists..." option.
  • Click the name of the target list.
  • The status update box will now show the newly selected scope of the update.

Excluding a Specified List from a Status

Maybe you have a status update that you want to be visible to all of your Facebook friends except your family.

  • Type the status update.
  • In the bottom-right corner of the update box, look for the drop-down list that shows the scope of the update. (It will currently display whatever your default is set to; Friends, Public, etc.)
  • Cilck the drop-down. Click the Custom option.
  • From the Custom Privacy popup, add lists to be excluded in the "Don't share this with" box.
  • Click the [Save Changes] button.

That's all there is to it. With these options you'll be able to finely control who sees the updates that you post.