How Facebook lists change Facebook etiquette

There have been a lot of changes to Facebook lately and with changes come etiquette changes. I’m not a social media expert, but I do consult on social media etiquette which requires I stay on top of social media changes.

For those of you on Facebook, you may have noticed some recent modifications. Here’s a rundown on some of them.

Smart lists
Facebook has created lists that are based on your friend’s profile information. If your friend stated they went to the same school as you did then a list is created for say “University of Washington” and all of your friends who stated they went to the UW will be put into that list. Others that fall into that category include the city you live in, where you work, and “Family”. All of those will be populated by Facebook based on your friend’s profile info. You can add or delete people from that list anytime.

Other lists
Facebook also created list categories that include, “Close friends”, “Acquaintances” and “Restricted”. You can populate those with appropriate friends yourself. Simply click on the list and to the right you will see a box that says “Add friends to this list”. Start typing their name and click on it and voila, they are now put into that list.

A word about the “Restricted”, list; according to Facebook’s Help Center, “this list is for people you’ve added as a friend but just don’t want to share with, like your boss. When you add someone to your Restricted list, they will only be able to see your Public content or posts of yours that you tag them in.” Your friends are not notified or see what lists they are put in.

How to use lists
Now, before I explain how this effects Facebook etiquette, I want to mention how you can use these lists. When you post an update, you can choose who gets to see the post with the audience selector dropdown menu at the bottom of the update box. You can pick a list so the update is only visible to the friends in that list. If you select “friends”, this will make the update visible to all of your friends. If you want everyone on Facebook to be able to see your post, select “public”. Your last option is to choose “Customize” which allows you to tailor who sees the update.

Say you want only your college buddies and your workplace friends to see the update. Just click on “Custom” and type in those two lists under “Make this visible to”. You can also exclude some people. If you want all of your friends except for your workplace friends to see the update, again, click on “Custom” and under “Hide this from” type in the workplace list. Cool huh?!

Revised Facebook etiquette
Now how does this influence Facebook etiquette? Well, I have always said that it is not a good idea to friend your boss, client or coworkers, because you have to be sure you’re very careful about what you post, and even if you are squeaky clean about what you post your friends may not and they might tag you in an unprofessional or career harmful update.

In the past, I’ve advised my clients that when a boss, client and most coworkers send a friend request to ignore it and instead invite these folks to connect on LinkedIn. But, with lists, I think it’s OK to friend these potentially risky people as long as you put them in the “restricted” list and are diligent about sharing only the cleanest posts publicly, which those in the “restricted” list will see.

One other thing I advise you to do is to change your privacy settings so that you can exclude your “restricted” list from seeing what you’re tagged on. Here are the instructions on how to do that.

The world of social media is changing the way we interact with people, both good and bad. If we use social media we open ourselves up to the whole world. However, with the changes Facebook has made and soon the new Google Plus, we are able to maintain more privacy yet still invite people into our worlds, just at more of a distant.

What do you think of the new Facebook lists? Are you going to use them? Do they make you feel more comfortable friending those riskier people in your life like your boss or clients? Will you customize who can see your posts?

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Therese on July 21, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I have a question and the restriction lists and acquaintance lists. I recently posted a photo publicly and friends liked and commented. But one of my friends sent me a text about it that kind of offended me. Impulsively I added him to these lists and changed the status of the photo to friends only. After a few hours I changed this back, not wanting to imsult or offend him and just not wanting ot be silly or childish. My question is, since he had already seen it publicly and liked it, would be then still get a notification if someone else commented and then wonder why he could not longer see the photo or any other photos I’d shared. I hope he didn’t notice but do you think I’m safe, and a little paranoid? Thank you in advance!

  2. ArdenClise on August 12, 2014 at 11:49 am

    @Therese I believe, but don’t quote me, that if he is not listed as a close friend and you changed the status of the photo to close friends then he would no longer get notifications. But, I’m not positive. There is probably information on that in Facebook. Go to “Help” and click on “Privacy” and you should see something that addresses your questions.

    Good luck.

  3. Go2toppanel on July 23, 2023 at 3:09 am

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