How to Make Facebook Friends Private

Facebook iPad app


We share a lot of things on Facebook: what we’re doing, where we’re going, how we’re feeling, and what we’re listening to or reading. We post photos, share videos and links, and comment on posts on our own and others’ profiles. With everything we post, it’s (relatively) straightforward to figure out who we’re sharing with, but when it comes to things like your Friends list, not all of us know who can see our information. If you’re trying to figure out how to keep your friends, acquaintances, and other Facebook users from snooping through your Facebook Friends list, you’re in luck. It turns out that it’s pretty simple to change the privacy settings that control who can view your Facebook friends.

Your Facebook account defaults to making the “Friends” section of your profile visible to everyone. To adjust the privacy of your Friends list, go to your profile, and click “Friends” below your cover photo. Then, click the pencil icon at the top of the page and select “Edit Privacy” from the dropdown menu. Then you can select an audience. This is what the menu will look like by default:

Edit Privacy of Facebook Friends List


Facebook offers a variety of options for the audience you share your friends list with, ranging from making it public to keeping it visible to your eyes alone. You can choose to make your friends list “Public” so that everyone can see it; set it visible to “Friends” so that anyone who’s friends with you can see it; or set it to “Only Me” so that you’re the only one who can see it. (You can choose the same options for any of the people or lists that you follow on Facebook.)

Editing Privacy of Facebook Friends List



Using lists to organize who can see your Friends list

Alternately, you can choose to share your Friends list with the members of any of the smart lists that organize your Friends, or you can choose to set it to a “Custom” privacy setting, which adds the option of sharing your Friends list with specific people or lists of Friends. With custom privacy settings, you can also choose users whom you specifically don’t want to share your Friends list with — which is an especially useful setting if you want to hide it from a nosy acquaintance or ex.

Custom Privacy Settings for Facebook Friends List


You can both create your own lists of Friends and take advantage of smart lists that Facebook creates for you. Smart lists create themselves and automatically stay up-to-date based on the profile information that you and your Friends have in common, such as work, school, family, or city. As Facebook explains, if you list Stanford as a school that you’ve attended, and your friends Eric and Jane also list Stanford, then you might see a smart list called “Stanford University” with Eric and Jane on it.

Facebook enables you to create lists for “Close Friends” and “Acquaintances,” as well as a “Restricted” list of friends who will only be able to see the information that you make Public or the posts that you tag them in. You can add Friends to these lists and create your own custom lists, which can help you to manage the privacy of your information, such as who can see your Friends list.

Making your friends list private from Facebook’s app

To make your friends list private from Facebook’s iOS app, go to your profile, tap “Friends” below your profile picture, and tap the audience next to “Friends” to adjust who can see the Friends section of your profile.

To adjust who can see your Friends list from Facebook’s Android app, go to your profile, tap “Friends” below your profile picture, and tap the audience next to “Friends” to change who can see your list of friends.

Even if you set your Facebook Friends list to “Only Me,” it won’t ever be totally private. Facebook notes that since other people have the same choices available to them when they decide whether they want to share their Friends list or make it private, people may be able to see mutual friends when they go to your profile. Your Friends control who sees their friendships on their profiles, so if people can see your friendship on another profile, they’ll also be able to see it in the News Feed, search, and other places on Facebook.

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