Is Facebook the Party Line of the 21st Century?

Posted by: on Apr 24th, 2014

Long ago, before there was “telecommunications”, customers subscribed to a telephone service that connected area subscribers directly into the same local phone line.  Your home and all other subscriber households within the area shared that line.  When the phone rang in your house, it rang in all the other subscriber homes.  Someone in any of those homes would be picking up the hand set to listen in on your conversation. This system was referred to as a party line.


Party Line or Private Line – You Decide


On the plus side of the party line was that everyone listening in would hear your good news – an engagement, a promotion, a graduation.  The not so good was that they also heard the not-so-good news – a death, an injury, a serious diagnosis, an unpleasant comment.  Such was the way of the party line.


Facebook has a not-too-distant connection to this party line system. Once you have established your privacy settings, what is posted on the “wall” of your Facebook page is available for any of your approved friends to see – just like listening in on a party line.  But if you want to target comments, pictures, and links to a specific group only, switch to a private line and create Facebook friends lists.


Friends’ lists help you group your friends and pages into categories meaningful to you. Check your individual friends’ lists to catch up on all that’s important with that group. You decide who is placed on any list (and who is removed from any list).


  • NOTE:  Facebook creates some generic lists for you – Close Friends, Acquaintances, Family, Work, School, Your Area, and Restricted.  Close Friends, Acquaintances, and Restricted are completely private. Members of these lists aren’t notified, they are on the private lists, and no one can find how many people are included in this list.  (No one is notified that they have been removed from any of these private lists, either!)  All other Facebook-created lists or any lists that you create are totally public until you change the settings.


Filtering the Noise


So you’ve been overwhelmed with way too many general messages and find you are missing updates from those you most care about?   Filter that noise down and stay connected with what’s important to you!  Follow these steps:


  1. Access your Facebook home page, scroll down the left sidebar to Friends.
  2. Mouse over Friends and click on ‘More’.  Your news feed screen will change and show any current lists you have.
  3. Click the Create List button to open a new dialog box.


  1. Name the new list and add members.Click the Create button and Facebook automatically switches to your news feed screen and shows updates from the people you placed on your newly created list!
    1. Type a name and Facebook will populate a list of your friends with that name.  Select the correct name and that person is added to your list.
    2. Add friends in the same manner until your list is complete.
  2.  Click the Create button and Facebook automatically switches to your news feed screen and shows updates from the people you placed on your newly created list! 


Editing your friends’ lists is easy, too –


  1. Mouse over Friends in the sidebar; click More to access your main friends lists page.
  2. Click the name of the friends list you want to edit.
  3. Click the Manage List button underneath the header picture.
  4. From Menu, choose the action – select/de-select updates, add/remove members, rename or delete the list, etc.
    1. NOTE:  you cannot delete a default Facebook list but you can delete the contents.
    2. You don’t have to unfriend the marginal group of friends:  create a friends list for them, too.


Mind your manners –


No matter who is placed on what list, privacy matters.  It matters to you; it matters to all the people who populate your lists.  So choose your privacy settings for each list thoughtfully.  And if you wouldn’t want to say (or read) something on one list, maybe that should be your personal code for all your messages and pictures.


Let Facebook friends’ lists move you out of the old party line system and into the 21st Century version of the private line.


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