How to hide your Facebook friends list

In response to complaints, the social network now offers a way to keep friends lists from appearing on publicly viewable profiles. Here are steps for making that happen.

Facebook last Wednesday announced new privacy settings that give users some additional control over what information they share, while taking away the ability to hide a few pieces of information from the general public.

One particular piece of publicly available information--users' friends lists--caused a bit of an uproar from a number of sectors, including business people who don't necessarily want to expose their professional networks to the public and their competitors. It is also a concern to some parents who might not want their kids--or a list of their kids' friends--to be widely available.

Facebook quickly backtracked . A day later, the company announced on its blog that users can now uncheck the "Show my friends on my profile" option in the Friends box on their profile so that your friend list won't appear on your publicly viewable profile.

Unfortunately, they weren't very clear on exactly how you make the change. You won't find this checkbox in your Facebook privacy settings. Instead you have to follow these steps:

1. Click on Profile on the blue bar a the top of the screen:

2. Scroll down to the beginning of your Friends list and click on the pencil to the right of the word Friends:

3. Uncheck the box that says "Show Friend list to everyone":

You can't hide your friends from your friends and applications
Unchecking that box will hide your friends list when a non-Facebook friend views your public profile, but it will not hide your Facebook friends list from your friends when they look at your profile. Also, this information will be available to applications and application developers.

In addition, this procedure does not hide other publicly available information including your name, profile picture, gender, current city, networks you belong to, and pages you're a fan of.

Double-check your privacy settings
Most Facebook users have by now gone through the mandatory privacy settings wizard, but you can revisit your settings at any time by hovering over settings in the tool bar on the top of the screen and selecting privacy settings. If you don't do this, a fair amount of your information might be available to the public including the names of your kids and other family members (with links to their Facebook accounts), your relationship status, and where you work.

To find out how your Facebook profile looks to the public, click on Profile Information in privacy settings and then on Preview My Profile...on the upper right section of that page.

About the author

Larry Magid is a technology journalist and an Internet safety advocate. He's been writing and speaking about Internet safety since he wrote Internet safety guide "Child Safety on the Information Highway" in 1994. He is co-director of ConnectSafely.org, founder of SafeKids.com and SafeTeens.com, and a board member of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Larry's technology analysis and commentary can be heard on CBS News and CBS affiliates, and read on CBSNews.com. He also writes a personal-tech column for the San Jose Mercury News. You can e-mail Larry.

 

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