Jack Yan
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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006.



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10.12.2011

RIP Facebook lists: you can no longer select them in privacy settings

P.P.PS.: As of December 21, 9.29 GMT, Facebook has fixed the bug.—JY

P.PS.: Scroll down, as I traced the source of the bug two days after the original post. At the time of this post-postscript (December 21, 2.46 GMT), Facebook still had not fixed things.—JY

Facebook privacy is broken.
   After discovering last week that Facebook will no longer let me select Limited Profile in any privacy setting, I created a new list today, putting in people who weren’t in the old Limited Profile list—totalling around 690. It was (slightly) easier than finding 1,871 parties to re-create the Limited Profile list, and since Facebook’s “merge lists” feature does not exist (but allegedly still available, according to the French Q&A), I had no choice.
   For a few hours today, at least I could have some semblance of privacy on Facebook close to what I enjoyed.
   Until Facebook decided to render my new list inaccessible as well.
   That’s right: although the new list exists, just as Limited Profile exists, it cannot be selected in any privacy setting. No more using it for status updates, photo albums or anything else. Lists on Facebook, it seems, only survive for a few hours before they make them unusable.
   In other words, if I create a new photo album, and I want certain privacy settings on it, I have to spend a few hours to create a new list again, then restrict or include those people. I can’t use either my new list or Limited Profile to customize the privacy.
   True to form, no one at Facebook is answering messages, via any bug reports, the Lists’ Team Facebook page, the Get Satisfaction complaint, the Facebook blog, or anywhere else.
   Since my last post on this matter, I have discovered some people with deleted Limited Profile lists on their Facebook. There is even a two-year-old group on Facebook dealing with restoring Limited Profile, so this has been going on for a while. But since my surname is not Zuckerberg, there’s fat chance of anyone rushing to my aid.
   I can’t be the only person who uses lists in privacy settings on Facebook.

PS.: I may have found the bug, and it is a legacy issue in Facebook.
   For those who can remember back a few years, Facebook used to group privacy settings for pages and friends in the same section. In other words, you could restrict pages in much the same way as you could restrict friends, and add them to a class—such as Limited Profile.
   I continued to add pages to friends’ classes as I always did—mainly because it was allowed. If you go to any Facebook friends’ list today, you will find that you can select pages to add (below). And that is Facebook’s mistake.

Facebook fan pages
Above: Facebook says you can add fan pages to a friends’ list. Don’t do it: it will render that list unusable in any privacy setting.

   The new list functioned fine when no pages were added to it. But when I added my first—a page run by a friend of mine—it stopped being accessible.
   Rule: if you want your friends’ lists to function, do not add any pages to it. If you have old lists with pages in them, don’t touch them. Any that existed before Thursday will still work. Any list modified since Thursday will not work.
   How many people work there at Facebook again? Why is it always Joe Schmo who has to find this stuff out?—JY

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Filed under: internet, technology, USA—Jack Yan @ 05.12

7 Responses to ‘RIP Facebook lists: you can no longer select them in privacy settings’

  1. jaklumen says:

    I’m sorry you’re having such troubles, Jack.

    It does seem to me that commentators are more and more right that privacy is not much the default anymore, and that we must specifically request it. It also seems that advertising is king and they are also right that the primary customers of social networking are advertisers purchasing rights to pitch their goods and services to us as users– therefore, user concerns are secondary. More troubling, such commentators have said that users are increasingly apathetic to their loss of privacy.

    What rather burns me up is that Mark Zuckerberg essentially said it before they did. Doesn’t make it right, I think.

    I think a simple “the customer is always right” won’t work here, as you are probably aware that “the customer is sometimes wrong”. It’s more “be sure the customer gets what they have asked for.” I hope Madison Avenue and Wall Street will get a clear message that even if privacy concerns are expressed by a minority, they would disregard it at their peril…

    …even if Facebook is about as private as a noisy neighborhood pub, that most of the Internet chooses to go to.

  2. Jack Yan says:

    What annoys me, J., is that Facebook has also left troubleshooting to us regular folks. This was a major privacy problem, yet, as you noticed, no one cared. Here I am, shouting, ‘You have no brakes on the car!’ but Facebook prefers to keep on cruisin’.

  3. jaklumen says:

    I think until a client with a lot of money invested in Facebook complains, the Zuckerbergs aren’t going to do a thing.

  4. […] « RIP Facebook lists: you can no longer select them in privacy settings | […]

  5. […] is wrong. And Facebook doesn’t know, or doesn’t care. I’m pasting the solution, as I did when I discovered Facebook blocked me from selecting Limited Profile two weeks ago, in case anyone else comes across this problem.    In this and the previous case, I have […]

  6. Dorian says:

    Thank you so much for letting us know not to add pages to the list. Did that by mistake. Took the page out of the list and vuala.

  7. Jack Yan says:

    Dorian, I am so glad I could help. Facebook really should fix this—it lets us add them, so it should either stop us from doing so, or tell us that the rules have changed.

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