Facebook lists – being (slightly more) private on Social Media

There is an often tricky line to steer in the world of modern social media. It is used as a tool for reaching out in your business or (in my case) in the service of the Gospel, to make new friends and to reacquaint with old ones. The trouble is that these are often many different types of conversations, and the jokes my Son or my best friend Dave share are not necessarily what I would like Doris from S. Elsewhere’s or my Bishop to read over her morning coffee. I always say that I would not tweet anything in public that I wouldn’t share from the pulpit (if I used one), so my stance on gender equality, sexuality and social justice are neither a shock to the parish, nor I hope the world thanks to the platform of social media.

But there are times when I need support, prayer and condolence, to reach out to a number of people on my wavelength and not worry about the public face of social media and its necessarily enforced niceties. I know there are some who run two separate accounts: a public and a private twitter, a personal and a work Facebook but that won’t work for me personally, as my Tweetdeck is already full of multiple accounts and follows, and Twitter is overwhelmingly a broadcast media (yes, okay, with lots of interaction and response, but my point is that you have no real control over who sees your tweets) – people I know nothing of sometimes favourite and retweet things I posted months ago  that have been retweeted by others (the record is 400days).

But Facebook is more personal (for me at least) and so I have been working on testing the solution of using Lists in Facebook  whereby you can select to whom that post might go. Here is how you set it up


1. On Facebook, under your name, select “Edit Profile”

screenshot-www.facebook.com 2015-05-11 12-10-15

2. Scroll down to your list of friends

screenshot-www.facebook.com 2015-05-11 12-10-42

3. To create a new list (or add to an existing list) click on the dropdown by the right of their name

It is likely that your already created list is not shown, or you have not created it, therefore select “Add to another list”

screenshot-www.facebook.com 2015-05-11 12-12-45

4. If it is a New List, then select… yes, you’ve guessed it.

If the list already exists, then select it.

screenshot-www.facebook.com 2015-05-11 12-13-19

5. You can manage each list and search within it to find and remove people once it has been created

screenshot-www.facebook.com 2015-05-11 11-54-04

6. When you come to post your rant, select where the dropdown to the left of “Post” usually says “Friends” and select the name of your list

screenshot-www.facebook.com 2015-05-11 12-14-37

Experiments have shown that those posts cannot be seen by anyone not on that list. If someone is tagged in the post, then they are added to that post only, and cannot see any other posts but can see the post itself, get notified of it any any other comments. If they are removed or untagged, then they cannot see that post anymore.

When you “Share” the system warns you that it will be available beyond the list, so that users might think twice about sharing that striptease.

screenshot-www.facebook.com 2015-05-11 12-38-35

So, what use is this?

  • To filter out certain posts to either include or exclude certain friends
    • ie people who I don’t want to see the post
    • or people who I do want to share this with
  • Personal comments not for public display
  • The kind of joke that is just between a few friends.

I think is is an interesting use, and my tests this morning have been useful and interesting, but as usual, I would still be fairly cautious about what you say on public social media as many have found to their cost what a casual comment on social media can do to their careers and reputations. Play nicely is always my advice.