Recently, I’ve been exploring the tools Facebook provides for posting notes and links to only a subset of the people I’m connected with on the service. In particular, I wanted to do a better job of keeping personal and political activities separate – not an easy thing in this crazy, mashed up world.
Although I make no secret of my political activities, it’s not necessarily the first thing I want to broadcast about myself to professional contacts. It’s much easier to maintain a fairly clean separation on LinkedIn, which is all business. But although I am more active about seeking out professional contacts through LinkedIn, some of them have sought me out on Facebook. And there are also a lot of old friends and former colleagues I stay in touch with on Facebook who may or may not care for my politics (I think of myself as a moderate, reasonable guy, but it’s all about your frame of reference).
Also, when I try to promote a local fundraiser or other political event through Facebook, contacts in other parts of the country don’t necessarily need to see those headlines. So just as a courtesy, I’d like to filter the links and messages I publish.
I knew there was supposed to be a way to do it, but it took me a while to figure out how — even as a supposedly tech-savvy guy. So I thought others might find this useful. This could apply just as well to postings on another topic that only a subset of your FB friends care about.
For some time now, I’ve been trying to tag new contacts as belonging to one or more of a few categories — personal, professional or Lyman Hall (those high school folks from Connecticut). You can do this when you add a new contact, like this:
I can either choose an existing group or type in the name of a new group I want to create. These groups are just labels for types of Facebook friends within my larger contact list.
I haven’t done this as consistently as I might have, and wasn’t doing it at all when I first joined Facebook. So I also had to go back and do it retroactively by choosing the “Edit Friends” off the Account menu —
— and then categorizing individual contacts.
Now, when posting a status update or link, I can click on the lock icon to get options for restricting the item’s distribution. I then select “Customize” off the list.
Within the customize options you want to restrict to “Specific People”
At this point, I could type in a list of people’s names. But what I’m going to do instead is use the group keyword for my political friends.
Notice that I could make this my default setting. But no, there are plenty of other links I share that are not political. And sometimes I may want to share a political point even with those who might not agree with me (I just want to be able to pick my battles).
Once I click “Save Settings,” I am returned to my home screen, where I can post this my message by clicking the “Share” button. But now, instead of being shared with everyone, the item should only be displayed to the people on my “political” list.