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Friending Your Parents on Facebook Without Sacrificing Privacy

Updated on June 2, 2010

So it happened. You knew it would eventually, but you didn't expect it so soon: you got the dreaded friend request on Facebook from Mom, Dad, or even Grandma Sue. You debate for hours whether or not you should accept and potentially doom your Facebook days or ignore and make every familial encounter and family dinner from now to next Thanksgiving awkward. The good news is: you don't have to worry! It's entirely possible to carefully control exactly what each and every one of your friends on Facebook sees about you. Now before we begin, I must warn you that this isn't an excuse to completely lose all common sense when posting things to Facebook. There are times when Facebook's privacy has failed. You should still exercise caution, but if you just want to hide a few iffy photos and wall posts from fragile Grandma then keep reading.

First, we have to understand Facebook's stance on privacy, and how to use the controls that they give you to protect your content. Currently, Facebook is receiving a lot of problems from users who are concerned about their privacy. There is an interesting chart of Facebook's privacy controls here which truly explains the confusion that a lot of people are experiencing. But ultimately, this article will show you, step by step, how to understand the controls that are important for protecting certain content pieces.

To begin, it will be assumed that that problematic friend request is sitting in your friend request list, just glaring at you evilly. To start, don't do anything with it yet! You have to tighten up your privacy first, then we'll come back to confirming it.

First, we are going to look at overall account security. If your wall is visible to everyone (which it very well may be because of Facebook's recent changes), then Mom is going to be able to see all your posts about "last night" (whatever that entails for you) regardless of whether or not she is your friend. So log in to Facebook, and click up the top right side on Account > Privacy Settings.

Next, we're going to click on "Personal Information and Posts" and then work with the page that comes up next. On this page, you will notice the listings such as "Bio and Quotations," etc. On the right side, there are drop down menus for each thing. Depending on your personal preference, you can set them to "Only Friends" or "Everyone," etc. Don't worry about the customized options yet. My picture below will look slightly different because I have created "lists." Don't worry, we'll work on that next.

In order to set up who can and can't see each piece of information that you put on Facebook, you will need to create "lists." A list is just like a group of people, who are your friends, who will be grouped together in privacy settings. To create a list, go to Account > Edit Friends at the top right hand corner. Once there, click on the left where it says "Friends" under the bold word: "Lists."

Once here, we're going to create a new list and call it something like "Family" or "Restricted Access" or something else that sounds cool. To do that, click "Create New List" at the top, and name it whatever you want. Just be sure to remember the name.

Once you create a list name, don't worry about selecting friends to add to it unless you have already friended some family members (or a boss) you want to add to this list.

Now, head back to the Account > Privacy Settings page, click on Personal Information and Posts and look at the right side. You can pick and chose which of these items you want the new list to see and not see. For example, let's say you don't want "Family" to see any of the status updates you make. So click on the drop down menu next to "Posts by Me" and click "edit" next to "custom."

Once there, you will notice that you have lots of options to decide who sees your status updates and wall posts. Before doing this, allow me to forewarn you that if your Mom can't see any of your updates, even the normal ones, she'll probably question you. But, there is even a way around that. So if you want to let her see some, just leave this as only friends and move on. If you don't want the people in the "Family" group to see any of your posts, then add "Family" to the "Hide this from" section and leave "visible to" as "Only friends."

When you are finished, save changes and do this for each item you want to hide from "Family." Then, you have to update your photo album settings in case there's a picture that is a little risqué. Click on "Edit Settings" next to the Photo Album line and you are taken to a new page. Here, you can do the same things for every photo and album you have uploaded by using the drop down menus to chose "Custom" and then "edit."

Now we'll move to individualized content such as individual wall posts. While items your friends post on your wall is an "all or nothing" setting, the posts you make are each individually controlled. That means you can post "I am bad" and hide it from certain people, who will only see the posts they are allowed to see. This is done on the box in which you write your status. The lock controls the privacy settings, and when clicked, offers the same drop down menu. Clicking "Custom" "edit" will bring up the familiar box, into which you can add "Family" under "Hide this from."

You'll begin to notice these options all around Facebook. Just remember to add your list to the right setting each time and you will successfully hide any unwanted content from the select group of people.

Now that you've setup the list, you can accept that friend request from grandma. Go back to the pending requests page and find her. You should notice the words "Add to list" under her name. Click it and add her to the list you created earlier. Now, you can confirm her and she will have the same settings as the list she is in.

Now you are done. Let me know in the comments if you want any other tutorials, and be sure to vote in the poll!

Who would you MOST consider hiding information from on Facebook?

See results


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    • profile image

      Rob 4 years ago

      Is there a way to hide your friends list from particular people. Or have a dumby list?

    • profile image

      Annie 5 years ago

      Hi my mom just said I could have a Facebook but she also said that I couldn't be friends with my dance teachers.... Is it possible to hide freindes from my mom?

    • profile image

      trum 5 years ago

      It is too late for me :( My mum is on fb and there is no stopping her now. Every status; liked. Every picture; commented on. It has completely ruined fb for me. I can't get the lists thing going properly, and I hate my life.

    • profile image

      drizzling thoughts 6 years ago

      nice.. is lists and groups same ? and what abt the ques by ben

    • profile image

      New user 6 years ago

      Great advice! Well done on the research! Thanks so much

    • profile image

      Ben 7 years ago

      Hej, thanks a lot!

      Please could you help me, how to hide posts of certain friend on my wall from my parents?

      You explained how to hide my own posts on my friends wall, but not the other way around.


    • xnotion profile image

      xnotion 7 years ago

      Hi John,

      You're right.. it would hide that tab. The better option is to hide individual posts by editing the privacy of each post. That is best, but you must remember to do it each time.

    • profile image

      John 7 years ago

      The problem is that when you choose to hide your wall posts from a person by default (in privacy settings), the "Wall" tab will be invisible to him/her. Then he/she knows you're hiding from him/her. They should leave the Wall tab open even if your Wall looks empty for some people...

    • xnotion profile image

      xnotion 7 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Suny51!

    • suny51 profile image

      suny51 7 years ago

      That's whole lot of research,well done.