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Controlling Your Posts with Facebook’s New Friends Lists

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If you have a large number of Facebook friends, you can organize them—by type or interest or whatever—into multiple friends lists. You can then view posts only by members of a specific friends list, or send your posts only to a given friends list. In this article, Facebook for Grown-Ups author Michael Miller shows you how to create and manage your own friends lists—and get the most from them.
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Anybody who’s anybody on Facebook has a lot of friends. Some of these friends are real friends, some are more like acquaintances, some are people you work with or went to school with, and some are just people who asked to be friended and you took pity on them.

In any case, once you amass your first couple of dozen or hundred friends, you discover that it’s difficult to keep track of this many people. You end up reading posts from so-called friends that you really don’t care about, and send your own status updates to people who you probably don’t want to keep up to date on things.

Facebook recognized this problem and initiated a new feature called friends lists. (Actually, Google+ recognized this problem by creating their own Circles of friends, and Facebook copied that.) A friends list is just that—a list of friends that functions as a subset of your master list of Facebook friends. You can use friends lists to better manage your existing Facebook friends—as well as the status updates you post to your friends’ news feeds.

Understanding Facebook’s New Friends Lists

One of the big advantages of Facebook is that with 800 million members, pretty much everyone you want to keep in contact with is there. That’s also a problem, as you end sharing pretty much everything with everyone.

This unfettered public sharing might be fine for some people in some circumstances. For most of us, however, we end up reading way too many posts from people we don’t much care about, and sharing way too much information with people we shouldn’t be sharing with at all. (We also end up sending embarrassing posts to folks who we don’t want reading them, such as bosses or spouses.)

It would be better if there was a way to filter the information flowing to and from your personal Facebook account. That is, if you could opt to display status updates only from your close friends or family members, or to send certain status updates only to a selected list of your closest confidantes.

You didn’t used to be able to do this, but Facebook recently launched what they call friends lists. These are custom lists of friends, subsets of your overall list of Facebook friends.

A friends list isn’t something that your friends have to join or even know about; it’s a one-way thing, not a two-way participation. A friends list is merely a way to send posts, photos, chats, and other files to selected friends only, instead of your entire friends list. It’s also a great way to simplify your news feed, by viewing only posts from specific lists of friends.

You can create friends lists based on any criteria you want. Facebook creates a few smart lists for you—for close friends, acquaintances, and family members. But you can create your own lists for neighbors, co-workers, classmates, even members of your sewing class or kids’ soccer team.

Once you’ve organized your friends into these smaller lists, it’s easy enough to post status updates to members of a particular list only. It’s also much easier to filter your news feed to read posts only from members of a list.

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