If it feels like it is next to impossible to keep up with all of the changes Facebook seems to implement on a weekly basis, you are definitely not alone. What’s public? What’s private? How do I know who is seeing what I post? Staying on top of all the changes can be an overwhelming task indeed.

One of the many recent tweaks which hasn’t received much coverage is the ability to control who sees your list of friends. Most people don’t seem to mind if the world can see who they’re connected to on Facebook. Then again, is it that they don’t mind or that they didn’t know that they had a choice about it?

Display Your A-List Friends on Your Profile

On each person’s profile page, a sampling of their friends’ photos are displayed. Each time you visit that profile (or if you have the time to refresh the page over and over), you’ll likely see a different set of friends. Did you know that you can choose which friends of yours are displayed when someone visits your profile? What if you wanted to impress everyone by showing off that you’re connected to that famous author who wrote that book, that socialite who keeps getting into trouble and a couple of 20-something CEOs who just sold their companies and are now billionaires? Or, perhaps your priorities are slightly different and all you’d like to do is to be sure that no one visits your page only to see your mom’s photo waiting to greet them?

Here’s how to do this:

  1. Navigate to your own profile page. (When logged into Facebook, look over to the right at the top of the page. Click on Profile.)
  2. Find your ‘Friends’ section. (On the left side of the page, about half way down.)
  3. Click on the small pencil to the right of the word ‘Friends’
  4. This will bring up a box where you can edit your settings. You can choose to display 6, 9 or 12 friends. Below this, you can enter specific names of friends you would like to have displayed permanently. If you choose to display 6 friends, you may specifically name up to 6 friends to display (it can also be fewer than 6).
  5. Click outside the box. Your settings are saved. Take a look at your profile. You should now see your A-listers’ faces adorning your profile.

Manage Who Can View All Your Friends

Have you ever received a Facebook friend request that left you wondering “Who the heck is Joe Friendalicious and why does he want to be my Facebook friend?” When you view Joe’s profile, you notice that you are both friends with Samantha, leading you to suspect that he might have simply sent friend requests to all of Samantha’s friends. This scenario is only one of many which may lead some people to choose to hide their list of friends from prying eyes.

Not long ago, Facebook removed the ability to hide one’s friends, explaining that allowing users to keep this information private presented an obstacle to the overriding benefit of public sharing – to help users discover friends and news they otherwise might not have seen. Not surprisingly, people were none too happy with this change. After the enormous missteps Facebook has taken lately with respect to privacy and control over our own content and a tidal wave of bad press, they’ve modified the settings and the ability to manage who can see our Friends has returned.

To customize this setting, click on the same pencil in the ‘Friends’ box as described above. This time, click on ‘Change Visibility Settings’ which will bring up a page with numerous options. Included on this page, you will find ‘See my friend list’ as show here:

Clicking on this setting will display the options, as shown. If you’d like to specifically choose which of your friends may or may not see your list, select ‘Customize.’ This will bring up the following box:

As with other privacy settings on Facebook, here you may specifically name people to either include or exclude. This can be a rather cumbersome task if you’ve got more than a handful of Facebook friends. I’m a big fan of using Friends Lists on Facebook to organize and categorize my connections. This significantly simplifies the process for those of us with a relatively large network. Rather than name the individuals who I will permit to see my Facebook friends, I simply add the name of the list.

For example, several of my relatives are connected to me on Facebook. I’ve added them all to a Friends List I cleverly call ‘Family.’ I don’t mind at all if my family members would like to eat up their spare time by viewing all of my friends. (I’m not sure why they’d want to do this, but if they’re dying to know who I know, let it be a mystery no more.) So, rather than enter each of their names into the field above, I simply enter the name of the list that already includes all of their names – Family.

I recognize this can get dicey as the lingo is mighty confusing. The field that contains all of my friends is called a list. The feature I use to organize all of my Facebook friends is called a Friends List, yet they are two completely different things. No worries, though. Let me know in the comments if this tips has worked for you or if you’ve got any questions or suggestions.

Image courtesy of DoctorWho.