Most people are happy to use Facebook without worrying about its more sophisticated capabilities. Others might want to take it to the next level and use it to communicate with more than one audience. For instance, a teacher might have personal messages posted but may also want to use Facebook to reach students. This is done using custom lists and privacy settings. For a long time, I didn’t realize these features existed. And as a teacher, I worried about mixing my personal life with my faculty role. Fortunately, Facebook provides a reasonable solution and once set up, managing more than one audience becomes easy. Facebook permits profile owners to assign groups of friends to specific lists. For me, this means a Personal Friend List and a Student List. Privacy settings can be applied separately to each list so only certain material is visible to each group. For instance, I may not want my students to access photos and posts related to my family. Likewise, my personal friends really don’t want to see a student study guide. So how does this work? First, a list must be available. To create a new list, or add someone to an existing list, the profile owner can visit his or her group of Facebook friends on the profile page. Mouse over the name of the friend to be added to a specific list. When the dialog box appears, click on the ‘Friends’ button and a box with all available lists will appear (see Figure 1).
You may have to click on an item that says ‘show all lists’ to see lists you previously created. If you haven’t created the desired list previously, it is possible to do so from this same dialog box. Click on the list or lists for this particular friend. A check will appear next to the lists you have assigned. Once a friend is added to a list, content can be screened from their view more easily. How do you do this? In order to post information restricted to specific people, first create a post, load a video or add a photo as you normally would. Then, use the drop down box associated with the content to select the list of friends as an audience. As an example, Figure 2 shows how a post about a power outage will be made visible only to my family members. My students will not be aware of this posting. After posting the content, the settings can be modified to include more viewers.
Figures 3 and 4 show how this can be done using a drop down menu then adding lists or specific friends to a particular post. This is a very powerful capability in Facebook that makes it possible to use one account for multiple purposes. And for teachers, this can be very helpful! Using one list for students and another list for everyone else makes juggling the two worlds just a bit easier!