Facebook Blocks Members' Friend Lists -- For Some


Whoever said Facebook isn't responsive to privacy issues obviously hasn't been blocked from viewing a fellow members' Friend List.

In response to a firestorm of complaints regarding issues surrounding privacy settings, Facebook improved the Friend List visibility option, essentially making it slightly more challenging for members to view friends' personal and professional contacts, whether or not they're in the network.

Essentially, the Friend List block option prevents anyone, regardless of whether they're logged into Facebook or not, from viewing the user's list of friends. For one, there is no longer a link to a list of friends on user's profiles. Facebook has also included an option for members who want to block everyone from viewing their contact lists, friends or no.

"Many of you have mentioned that you want a way to hide your list of friends. In response to your feedback, we've removed the 'View Friends' link from search results, making your friends list less visible on the site," said Facebook's Ana Muller in a company blog post.

However, Facebook users will be required to manually and deliberately uncheck the box marked 'Show my friends on my profile' option, in the "Friends" box on their user profile if they want to implement these restrictions.

Meanwhile, the information is still publicly available and can also be accessed by third-party applications -- just not within Facebook itself.

Facebook's recent restrictions on its Friends List access, coupled with revamped privacy settings, primes the social networking site to compete in the professional space with sites such as LinkedIn, which is geared toward professional networking. By limiting access to Friend Lists, Facebook acknowledged that some users -- especially those in the professional arena -- might be a tad reluctant to expose professional or personal connections to potential or current employers.

But Facebook also has some backpeddling to do. Facebook was on the receiving end of a maelstrom of criticism this week after it revamped its privacy settings, which ostensibly gave users more control over who sees what on their network. While Facebook touted the changes as ones that greatly enhanced privacy, the changes also more easily enabled some user content to be accessed on the Web by search engine giant Google and Microsoft's Bing, eliciting strong concerns from privacy rights organizations and advocacy groups.