How to Edit Your Facebook Friends List So No One Can See It

© sashazamarasha - Fotolia.comData mining and friend list poaching has been a problem on Facebook for years. This can range from professional scams down to “real life” fringe friends simply wanting to market to the friends of people they come across. I first became aware of this problem when I noticed some people involved in a multi-level marketing company started friend-requesting my teenage daughters. They were people I had accepted as Facebook friends because part of my niche in the direct sales world is the segment of MLM distributors. I assumed they were interested in my social media training or had met me at an event. Instead what they were doing was friending me to get access to my “list” which they assumed would be people open to learning about a new business opportunity. This is spam and not cool.

The scammers today target your contact lists either through creating fake accounts that mimic real people’s accounts or just create a profile that is believable. Usually these accounts – real or fake – will friend-request someone and when your friend sees they have a mutual friend in you, they’re more likely to accept the request, since they trust your judgement. After all, if you’re their friend, they must be OK! Once they have access to your friends’ Facebook accounts, they will often have access to their contact information, personal information and even birth date and year, if your friends have  not set their privacy settings up to protect that information.

So the solution to this is two-fold.

Step by Step Instructions for Hiding Your Friend List

1) Only accept friend requests from either people you know or who have interacted with you in some way online or offline. Maybe they are a member of a group you are in, or commented on your fan page, or they attended an event where you were or otherwise know you. Sometimes you can’t tell just by looking at someone’s profile – message them back and ask what the connection might be. Or do what I do and simply reply that although you appreciate them reaching out to you, you are limiting your personal Facebook and would prefer to connect on your business page, and give them the link. If it is someone who has a legitimate reason for wanting to be your friend they will reply with more information or an explanation. If their only intent was to spam you, or they are a bot, they won’t.

2) Protect your list of Facebook friends so they can’t be poached. By default, on Facebook, everyone can see who everyone else is friends with. But you can edit this setting so that you are the only one who can see your list of friends. Here’s how:

1:  Visit your personal Timeline (click your name) and then click on the Friends tab under your cover photo.

2: Click the little pencil icon to the right to be able to edit this section.

How to Hide Your List of Facebook Friends

 

3: Once you click the pencil icon, choose, Edit Privacy.

How to Hide Your List of Facebook Friends

4: Click the little down arrow next to each section that you want to change from Friends to Only Me. Click Close and your changes will be saved.

How to Hide Your List of Facebook Friends

Have you had any experience with friend poaching or been a victim of data mining? Share your experience or any other solutions you’ve come up with in the comments. For more information on this issue, visit Facecrooks’ article, Fake Facebook Profiles and Pages.

For more information on marketing your business with social media, be sure to check out my book, Social Media for Direct Selling, available at online retailers or here.

{ 74 comments… add one }
  • Charlene Kingston May 28, 2013, 2:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, Karen. I didn’t know I could make my friend list private. I spend most of my time focused on business use of Facebook and not personal. I’ve changed my settings thanks to your article. I’ve also shared it on my Facebook business page.

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      May 28, 2013, 8:29 pm

      Great – it always amazes me how Facebook hides these little things from people! I am glad you saw this and thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  • Christine June 10, 2013, 10:01 pm

    Oh, I am so glad you posted this. I hadn’t heard of this before. Since I started liking pages through welikeetsy.com, I have gotten so, so many friend requests. I am having a hard enough time keeping my personal page personal….for my own sanity, I cannot friend people I don’t know. Now I am really glad I haven’t.

    Reply
  • Arla DeField - SayingNoWithoutFeelingGuilty.com June 14, 2013, 9:24 pm

    Thanks for a very clear tutorial! I privatized my friends list and shared a link to your blog so my friends can hopefully do the same!

    Reply
  • Gena June 26, 2013, 5:37 am

    Thanks, Karen! As the parent of new media users, this is aptly timed.

    Reply
  • Michelle Spear July 11, 2013, 5:25 am

    Thanks Karen! I didn’t know this, and I’m sure a lot of people don’t either. This is great information…thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Ameer July 23, 2013, 10:00 pm

    Thanks so much.. This was extremely helpful from a teenage point of view

    Reply
  • Karen Clark
    Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
    July 24, 2013, 2:08 am

    You are welcome everyone! I know what it is like to be worried about this stuff!

    Reply
  • KaziKalam September 9, 2013, 7:51 am

    Thank You

    Reply
  • chris October 9, 2013, 2:16 am

    hello. is there a way to make it so I can change who it is? I dont want to see certain people on there that I have to see every day without deleting them! 🙂
    or if not, make it so noone including me sees it

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      October 29, 2013, 9:58 pm

      Do you mean hide the people’s posts? You can go to the person in question and click on the Friends button – then UNcheck the Show in Newsfeed option. Maybe even click on Edit Settings and make sure everything there is unchecked as well. Then you will still stay friends with them but their posts will not show up. You would need to go to their timeline to see what they are up to. I hope that helps!

      Reply
  • shahid November 28, 2013, 6:17 am

    thanks its helpful

    Reply
  • Ian December 8, 2013, 5:08 pm

    I have a person I want to add to my Friends. However, I do not want him to show up in my friends list. Is it possible to add and hide him so no one (friends and non-friends) can see him?

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      December 8, 2013, 5:21 pm

      Only if you have your entire friends list hidden as explained above. You cannot hide only one friendship.

      Reply
  • Aman December 24, 2013, 10:01 am

    KAREN CLARK, Bundles of thanks . Its such an helpful instructions I got from you.
    Actually i been searching how to hide my friend list, but i couldn’t find till i came across through this site.
    Cause of i this matter i been disappear from Facebook for quite long time .
    Thanks Again….

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      December 26, 2013, 7:21 pm

      Wonderful Aman! I am so glad it was helpful and that you found what you needed. Have a great 2014!

      Reply
  • Neece December 27, 2013, 4:46 am

    I want to make it so a friend of mine cannot see when another friend like or comment on my page…is that possible? Or maybe making it so I can only see what one of my friends like or comment on my page

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      December 27, 2013, 5:18 pm

      Hi Neece – No there is no way to do what you are wanting. The only way to come close to that would be to exclude that 1 friend from even SEEing the posts. When you post something change the “audience” from Friends to Custom and within there you can hide a post from specific people. You would need to do that on any post you don’t want that person to see (and therefore they can’t like/comment on it) but that isn’t exactly what you are asking. Sorry.

      Reply
  • Scarlett January 1, 2014, 3:23 pm

    Hi! I was just wondering, if your friends list is hidden can your friends see any new friends you add, ie news feed etc?

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      January 2, 2014, 6:30 pm

      Yes they can but you can control that in the Friends Setting. Go to your profile, click the Activity Log button on your cover image, then click the little gray MORE on the left sidebar under Comments, and then click Friends. First – you might want to change “Who can see my friends list” to “Only Me” and then right next to that there’s this little guy drop down menu – uncheck all the boxes there and your “friend activity” won’t go out. I just posted about this today here https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153640428335471&set=a.10150651958600471.691120.644775470&type=1

      Reply
  • Scarlett January 5, 2014, 5:20 pm

    Brilliant! Thanks so much for your help! Its a shame that a little privacy can seem so elusive these days!!

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      January 5, 2014, 6:02 pm

      I agree Scarlett! Glad this was helpful for you!

      Reply
  • Sybille Muir January 7, 2014, 4:58 pm

    Hi thanks for the advice which worked straight away on my sons fb page, however there is no option like this on my fb page. Is that because i have fb friends already categorised to limit what they can see? Not sure why that would be the case as i want my friends list only to be visible to me. Your help would be much appreciated

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      January 7, 2014, 5:27 pm

      Wow that is strange… If they are both personal Facebook accounts it should work… I have my friends in “lists” also and it works. I am really not sure, unless it is some kind of Facebook glitch. Try again later? Sorry I can’t be of more help.

      Reply
  • Indu January 15, 2014, 1:13 am

    Hello Karen ,

    I want to make my fb profile too privacy (by search with my name and email id). So could you plz help me out and more over i m not at all getting notifications from friends regarding their activities (like posts,profile pics changes etc.. )

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      January 27, 2014, 8:17 pm

      Hi Indu – Use this link to set “Who can look me up?” to be “Friends Only” so that non-friends cannot find you. As for seeing all your friends notifications, go to their timeline and under the Friends button click for a drop down menu and select Get Notifications. That should help!

      Reply
  • Doyle Hinson February 9, 2014, 8:52 am

    Thanks for the article, Karen! I’ve done as you suggested, but put it to the test having someone else who is NOT a friend on fb search me, and my friends list does indeed show up for her to view, and vice versa. She made the same change to her settings that you outlined, and we checked back and they were saved, but the friends in her are visible to me as well. We both marked “Only Me”. I wonder what is up with this…

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      February 10, 2014, 8:15 pm

      Oh No! I hope FB hasn’t taken this ability away. Why would they?? Ugh! And to still allow you to mark it as Only Me but not actually have it be visible to Only You … Makes me wonder what else we think is private (or semi-) but isn’t. I will investigate more and post an update if I find anything out. Thanks for testing it! The original post was a year ago so it would not surprise me that there’s been a change but it’s frustrating.

      Reply
  • marko February 22, 2014, 10:35 am

    yes I make that ,but someone who is not my friend give me my friend list with all my friends !!! and now want to public something to all of my friends,how to stop that?

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      February 24, 2014, 5:22 pm

      Hmmm that is unusual. I will look into that.

      Reply
  • Uzzal Ahammed February 23, 2014, 9:57 am

    Thank you.

    Reply
  • Rae March 6, 2014, 10:25 am

    How do I Stop my friends from seeing my post without me un friending them?

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      March 6, 2014, 11:09 am

      You need to either unfriend them or add them to the Restricted Friend List – go to their profile and click on the Friends button and click Add to Another List. If you choose RESTRICTED then they can ONLY see posts you mark as Public – they will not see any posts marked as going to “friends” that way.

      Reply
  • sushilktewai April 21, 2014, 5:53 am

    Mam,
    But if We have any mutual friend,then My Friend can see them (list of mutual Friend).
    Kindly help.

    Regards

    Sushil

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      April 22, 2014, 8:02 pm

      Ahh yes if there are mutual friends they will see who the mutual friends are. There is no way to hide that which I know of. They should not be able to see your other friends though.

      Reply
  • Pablo Ortiz June 22, 2014, 6:28 am

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS INFO!!! I had a friend who would go through my friends list and request people off my list he didn’t know. After a while, it became embarrassing as they would ask me who this guy was. Now, I can manage my lists better and friend him again. Plus, put him in the restricted area too.

    Thanks again,

    Pablo

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      June 22, 2014, 3:45 pm

      You are welcome! That is exactly what was happening to me. Good luck!
      Karen

      Reply
  • MANJUNATHA BHAT August 3, 2014, 10:07 pm

    Madam, I have edit my friend list in face book and friend list visible only for me. My friends will not be able to see this. But I have one more problem and I want your suggestion. I see that in my friends “people you may know” list my friends are visible and below note that I have mutual friend with them. How to hide this please answer me madam? What are settings?

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      October 10, 2014, 10:36 am

      This is determined by that individual’s privacy settings. There is no way for you to edit it.

      Reply
  • MP October 5, 2014, 12:16 pm

    When I make these changes on my personal page does it post to friend’s timelines that I made changes? I just made the change for hiding the friend list. Whenever I make changes I always chose “me only” but am wondering if I ever chose to make something visable to friends again does it broadcast it on newsfeeds like new information or does it just happen to make it visable if they visit my personal page?

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      October 10, 2014, 10:35 am

      Nothing is broadcast when you make this change, but it would be if you change your profile picture or cover image or add a “life event” to your About section. These other things are not broadcast as stories.

      Reply
  • Buddy October 10, 2014, 8:40 am

    When I post a link to my to a group I belong to, some of my friends’ profile pics appear (those who have liked my page). Do you know if there is a way that their pics don’t show when I share my page?

    Thankw

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      October 10, 2014, 9:49 am

      Hi Buddy – That is determined by the friends’ settings themselves. Only you are seeing it – everyone will see something different based on who of THEIR friends have liked your page. Each individual can turn off the function that allows their faces to be shown in “liked by” type posts in the Ads setting https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=ads

      Reply
  • Richard November 5, 2014, 4:12 am

    Hi Karen- I enjoyed this post but have an additional question. I noticed on some of my friends FB site it does not show the total amount of friends. Is there anyway to change this so people cannot see the total amount of friends you have? Thanks-Richard

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      December 17, 2014, 10:31 am

      Yes – Go to your Friends Tab, click the pencil on the right and then Edit Privacy. Change Friend List to “Only Me” and no one will see who your friends are!

      Reply
  • Alicia Tredway December 3, 2014, 3:25 pm

    My granddaughter’s posts and continued selfies embarrass me and I’m worried that her posts are seen by my friends. Is this true and what’s my best option here?

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      December 17, 2014, 10:30 am

      Your friends would only see her posts if they are ALSO friends with her. The only exception is if she has them marked as Public (little globe icon) and THEN you liked or commented on them, a “story” would go out like Alicia liked Susie’s picture…. But only if they are marked Public. Usually things are Friends only so only people who are your friends AND her friend would see.

      Reply
  • J. del giacco March 12, 2015, 12:58 am

    I have a work friend that loves to poach my friends on Facebook she has friended at least 40 of them not only that but I have noticed that she loves to mention me in conversations with these friends and usually drama follows. I don’t want to ruin a good work relationship however it is starting to involve my personal life.

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      March 14, 2015, 9:11 pm

      I’d definitely turn off the ability to tag without approval – and maybe even consider unfriending them. 🙁

      Reply
  • Morgan May 8, 2015, 6:40 pm

    Hi Karen,

    I just came across this page and wish I had found it sooner ! I have a question that is not a big deal, it is just annoying to me. Where the number of friends a person has is shown next to the word “friends” on your profile, mine always has 1, even though I have no friends. When I do link with a friend for conversation purposes, etc. it will say “2” when I have another friend. It drives me nuts because I want to know why I have this “hidden friend”. I emailed FaceBook in the help section, but they just give me the form answers. I gave up and just figured it is a “glitch”, but hought I would ask since I am here if anyone else has had this problem ?

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      May 21, 2015, 1:06 am

      Hi Morgan! I believe that has to do with the OTHER person’s privacy settings. If they have theirs set so that no one can see their friends except them, then they would not show up in the friend count.

      Reply
  • Rex Peter June 14, 2015, 7:14 am

    Hi Karen,
    I have noticed this unusual problem on my profile page for “friends”. it shows that I have 11 friends on the top of the page but in the subsequent Friends menu below, it says “No friends to show”.
    How do I know who these 11 friends of mine are? Is this a glitch? I actually want to delete them – how do I do it? Has anyone else faced this issue?

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      October 10, 2015, 12:29 pm

      That is because THOSE 11 people have their own friend lists hidden so you can’t see them. You would need to wait till they like or comment on something to delete them if you don’t know their names to search for them.

      Reply
  • Autumn June 24, 2015, 2:58 pm

    Awesome tip! I had no idea this was possible and it’s a great security option! So glad I found this.

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      September 14, 2015, 12:30 pm

      🙂

      Reply
  • Zach July 1, 2015, 10:02 am

    Thanks so much for this! Am afraid my ex or crush will keep stalking me whenever I get a new girlfriend.

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      September 14, 2015, 12:30 pm

      You could always block them…

      Reply
  • Mike July 5, 2015, 11:11 pm

    Hi Karen, I was wondering if there was a way to hide the friends list but have people see the total amount of friends that you have? I’ve noticed its one of the other. Have total friends show and have the list be exposed, or hide the list in which case the total amount of friends one has isn’t specified. Just curious. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      October 10, 2015, 11:50 am

      Unfortunately no there is not.

      Reply
  • Vern September 2, 2015, 1:08 am

    Hi Karen, A 2 pronged facebook question.
    A friend of mine has 242 facebook friends on their page, but if you were to go through the list it only adds up to 235. Does that mean some of their friends only allow their own friends to see them ….ie if Im not friends with that person too, then I cant see them but it does make up their number..or is there a discrepancy somehow.
    Is it possible to have settings whereby you can see a 3rd person (which is not your friend) only by the fact you have a MUTUAL FRIEND means you can see them? if that makes sense. And if that’s the case, can they change that so you cant see it (and therefore does it reduce the number of friends on your mutual friends list).

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      September 14, 2015, 12:32 pm

      The ability to see someone is up to the person you are trying to see. Many people have their settings so that only people with mutual friends or even only people who have their email address can see them. Some have it so no one at all ever can see them unless they know their FB URL and view it. So there is no way to control who you can and cannot see.

      Reply
  • SHAIK NOOR September 13, 2015, 11:49 am

    Hi
    Thanks for sharing this, Karen. I didn’t know I could make my friend list private. I spend most of my time focused on business use of Facebook and not personal. I’ve changed my settings thanks to your article. I’ve also shared it on my Facebook business page.

    Thank you very much

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      September 14, 2015, 12:30 pm

      Great! I am glad it was helpful! Thanks so much for sharing, too!

      Reply
  • Rene September 21, 2015, 1:12 am

    How can 2 people b friends and friend#1 is shown on friend #2s friend list but friend #2 does not appear on friend#1s list as if he doesnt exist?My boyfriend befriended a girl and she appears on his list but he doest appear on hers.Did she hide it thinking i wouldnt know or did she keep him as friendbut block his posts from showing on her news or what?If she unfriend or blocked him she wouldnt appear on his list would she?Help,something suspicious!!

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      October 10, 2015, 11:38 am

      If he doesn’t appear on her friend list perhaps HE has set his friends to be invisible like I explained here? He would not show up on anyone’s list then as a friend unless you are mutual friends.

      Reply
  • Patricia Wanless October 24, 2015, 2:27 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been tearing my hair out lol I keep getting creeps on my FB. I do block them but I would like – nothing to show. Thank you. Tricia x

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      November 5, 2015, 5:23 pm

      Wonderful – I am glad it was helpful!

      Reply
  • YB January 22, 2016, 5:37 pm

    Is there a way to block one of my friends from seeing anything my daughter (who of course is my friend) post to me or what I post to her?

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      January 27, 2016, 5:26 pm

      If you are posting on each others’ Facebook profiles/timelines, then all of your mutual friends can see. The only way around that is to adjust your settings so that no one can post on your profile.

      To prevent your friends from posting on your Timeline:

      1. Click in the upper-right corner of any page and select Settings.
      2. In the left column, click Timeline and Tagging.
      3. Find the setting Who can post on your Timeline? and click Edit to the far right.
      4. Select Only Me from the dropdown menu.

      Reply
  • Ames March 14, 2016, 3:37 pm

    Dear Karen,

    If a Facebook friend’s friend list says “no friends to show”, does it mean their friend list is hidden from all their friends, or is it just hidden from me?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      March 14, 2016, 5:20 pm

      Hi Ames – There is no way for you to know whether they have it hidden to everyone or just you. There IS an option to show it to a “custom” list which could mean show only to certain people or to exclude it from certain people. You won’t be able to tell though.

      Reply
  • Jana March 20, 2016, 11:43 am

    Is there a way to keep people from mining your event pages for leads? or from your customer groups?

    Reply
    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      April 3, 2016, 8:32 pm

      Not if they are allowed to be there. You can only hide your personal connections. If they are members of the group or the page where the event is there’s no way to prevent them from seeing the list. 🙁

      Reply
  • Karen April 17, 2016, 5:27 pm

    Hi Karen,
    Can I block likes on my business FB page any way.
    Last night I had an opposition PM certain people she choose that lived in an area near her shop from my likes page telling them about her company with her web address attached and one of them happened to be my daughter, is there any way of stopping disrespectful people like this lady or is there any actions I can take or it is what it is.
    Thanks in advance
    Karen

    Reply

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Karen Clark

Karen Clark, Social Media Speaker.When she was an active direct sales leader, Karen Clark walked the walk as she sold, booked, and supported a team offline, while expanding her reach and service online. Now working with direct selling companies and their field representatives as a speaker and social media corporate consultant, Karen uses her 17 years' online marketing expertise to teach audiences exactly where, when, and how to establish an ethical and effective online presence with social media, while remaining true to their principles and personal business. Read more

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