Now, Facebook Lets Users Hide Friends From People Who Are Not Logged In

facebook friends profileAs part of Facebook’s privacy changes yesterday, the company made users’ friends publicly available. While there was an option to hide your friends completely from any users who was logged in, that option did not also allow users to remove their friend lists from being publicly available.

Now, based on heavy media scrutiny and what appear to be a a lot of user complaints, Facebook is changing the functionality of the hide feature to also hide friends from people who are not logged in.

The feature otherwise works the same as before. Go to your profile page, click on the blue pencil icon at the top of your friends box list, and de-select the checkbox that says “show my friends on my profile.”

There are larger questions here about Facebook’s decision yesterday. While the privacy changes were a relatively aggressive move to make users’ data more publicly accessible, the main method for doing that was through having each user go through “wizard,” or interface where they could choose to leave their settings as is or choose to make them available to everyone.

Another other part of Facebook’s changes — to make some profile information unavoidably public, including friends lists — came across as misleading. While logged-out viewers see excerpts of users friends, anybody could theoretically refresh that page and eventually see all of a person’s friends. That possibility has been removed for users who choose to hide friends.

So why did Facebook show friends lists in public? The company hasn’t said, but one reason might be to make it easier for new users to see friends they have in common with someone they find through a search result. Another reason might be to increase the search engine rankings of users by cross-linking user profiles.

However, there is still a caveat. Friends lists are still accessible, and here’s how: if one of your friends adds an application, they are providing that application with data showing that they are friends with you, as well as friends with everyone else on their list.

More from the Facebook blog:

UPDATE on Thursday, Dec. 10: In response to your feedback, we’ve improved the Friend List visibility option described below. Now when you uncheck the “Show my friends on my profile” option in the Friends box on your profile, your Friend List won’t appear on your profile regardless of whether people are viewing it while logged into Facebook or logged out. This information is still publicly available, however, and can be accessed by applications. Thanks again for your comments and suggestions.

We’ve also posted a third tutorial about the new privacy controls here. This video explains how to use the privacy control in the Publisher, the box where you publish status content such as updates, photos, videos and links.

Facebook Marketing

Mediabistro Event

Facebook Marketing

Starting January 13, work with the group marketing manager of social media at Microsoft/BingAds to grow your business on Facebook! In this course, you’ll learn how to set up your company page, understand Facebook best practices, and execute a monthly content strategy. Register now!


Leave a Reply

68 Responses to “Now, Facebook Lets Users Hide Friends From People Who Are Not Logged In”

  1. Otto says:

    Still broken. The friends list is still public information. Applications have full access to it, for anybody, without any form of permission whatsoever.

    Furthermore, it’s just “hidden”. You can still see the complete friends list of anybody you want:

    Facebook just has no idea WTF “privacy” means, do they?

  2. David says:

    I had it set to show my friends list to my friends only, and hide it from everyone else. How do I do that now?

  3. Francesca says:

    But what it I want to hide my list of friends to one person only??
    Brfore I could, now I cantì anymore! It’s annoying.

  4. Eric Eldon says:


    We’ve tested out hiding our own friends, and we have not been able to access the lists while logged out. We also were not able to hack in using the URL you linked to, above.

    Applications are required to get permission from a user before they can access the users lists of friends.

    Can you double-check all this on your end?


  5. diesel mcfadden says:

    I’m an app developer. This is ALL about letting the apps have access to the friend list, but more importantly, profile info (gender, networks, group interests, pages) so we ALL (or more importantly, facebook) can construct a complete map for purposes of targeting. They need that in order to make the public posts useful for search, for advertising, for weighting.

    Adding a checkbox making friends’ list invisible in the profile means very little. It’s only to make Facebook look like they responded, when really, the thing they really want passes through. The thing we all really want is to be able to assume availability of a COMPLETE map (no holes) of people, their interests and their friends.

    and fwiw, this also means that when using facebook connect to login into a site, it’s impossible to block having friends know that you’re a member of that site.

  6. John Galt says:

    Facebook is just going to keep taking the piss out of users. The inability to keep friends lists private has long been an issue. FOr example, the “suggested friends” keeps pimping your friends out, no matter what your privacy settings, and now of course, it is infinitely worse.

    Facebook, Privacy menas PRIVATE!

  7. ANM says:

    Friend lists can be viewed by users using the facebook iphone app. I.e. if i have unselected show friends on my profile, my friend lists are hidden if my friends check my profile on a browser (internet explorer, firefox) but if my friends check my profile using the facebook iphone app, my friends will show up.

  8. Irida says:

    The new privacy settings are not good. Before I could hide my friend list from showing up in a public search, now I CAN’T, and this is brutal. It matters little to me if I can hide my friend lists to my friends who already have access to my account. What I want is privacy from strangers. Facebook fix this!

  9. Jay Cuthrell says:

    Facebook has a ton of inertia. That said, it is sad to see bright software developers and product managers at Facebook get this so wrong.

    Facebook was once billed as “a place for friends”.


    There should be a big toggle bit/switch that says “Friends Only” and it should do what the label implies. Anything less is an affront.

  10. Warren says:

    It’s a good thing that Facebook has modified Privacy settings. However, the fact that these settings only apply if using a web browser MUST be addressed. It’s all fair game if you are using something such as the Facebook iPhone app. This is NOT good!

  11. The Race Towards A Relevant Real-Time | Skeptic Geek says:

    [...] changed its privacy strategy but later retracted making Friend Lists [...]

  12. Tamara says:

    Please fix facebook so that we had hide our friends list from strangers. I don’t mind if my facebook friends see my friends but to protect my friends privacy I would rather not have strangers be able to contact them without their permission and currently the only way I can do this is to hide all friends which seems a bit rude.

  13. Facebook Applications says:

    Well this new friend’s hiding option is good now we can set as we want that who can see our friends and who cannot.

  14. Cathy says:

    As of 12/14/2009, when you click the Friends pencil on your profile and uncheck “Show Friend List to everyone
    Note: Your Friend List is always visible to Friends,” your friend list is no longer visible to you or non-friends who search for you but is visible to your friends who view your profile. Weird…

  15. holly says:

    nope. as of today, with the everyone box UNchecked, my friends list isn’t visible to my friends, the standard six pictures of friends are gone, and on the privacy settings search page (once you click past the “Worried about search engines? Your information is safe.
    There have been misleading rumors recently about Facebook indexing all your information on Google. This is not true. Facebook created public search listings in 2007 to enable people to search for your name and see a link to your Facebook profile. They will still only see a basic set of information.” message, oh the irony… you’ll notice that if you click on the “preview my profile” button at the very top right it’ll show very limited information, ie. nothing (except for all of my pages, which has NO fix, this annoys me like you have no idea. how hard can it be to create an option to not have your pages show on your public search? it’s asinine). other than the pages thing i was willing to live with it. howEVER, that was just the profile shown to people that search for you within facebook. the public search preview is hidden in a little wee “view your profile *here*” link, at which point i discovered that not only do those stupid pages show up, so do “some of” my friends, with an option to see ALL of my friends. this is with the “everyone” option UNchecked. this is so not on. i think i’m just going to take my profile offline.

  16. Bo Gilbert says:

    facebook removed a lot of options with their “new” privacy policy… making it harder to be private than it was before.

    There are a lot of reasons people choose to hide their friends list from certain groups of friends. Why was this option taken away?

    The screen grab in this post above is no longer like it shows either… “Friends list is always visible to Friends” very annoying.

  17. Akhtar says:

    Hello there!!
    Any facebook personnel listening us???

    I completely agree to what Francesca and Bo Gilbert has said, and what many of others like us would like to say…

    I want to hide my Friend’s List from “some of my Friends”. (These some of my Friends are my Colleagues, not really Friends).

    Previously I could do it, but it is impossible now, as it says: “Friends list is always visible to Friends”. I completely agree with Bo Gilbert, that it is really annoying.

    Please fix this problem…

    and one more thing… I was completely satisfied with the previous style of privacy settings.
    I don not like the “reasons” for changing this style.

    Any facebook personnel listening us???

  18. Gary says:

    Please get this sorted. I have asked several of my friends to view my profile and they can see my friends list even though I unchecked Show Friends to Everyone. Before this new update even my friends could not see my friends list. Which I what I wanted.
    I am either probably going to have to set another account up, so I can control which friends see my friends list.

  19. Link Post for December 15th through December 16th says:

    [...] Now, Facebook Lets Users Hide Friends From People Who Are Not Logged In – [...]

  20. Steve says:

    After the “NEW” privacy changes, I was able to HIDE my friends list from my friends. Now, ALL my friends can see ALL my friends. What the hell??

    Facebook fix this crap!

  21. george says:

    i want to hide my friend list, please help
    i notice others are able to hide their list, but I just cant hide it.. its pissing me off help

  22. pfffffffff says:

    shit !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    i don’t want to display my friends list to my friends

    i want to hide my friends list to EVERYBODY!!

    how to do this ????

  23. SearchCap: The Day In Search, December 11, 2009 | Online Marketing Strategy says:

    [...] Now, Facebook Lets Users Hide Friends From People Who Are Not Logged In, Inside Facebook [...]

  24. James Hardman says:

    The problem is not fixed by the unchecking box option. If a non friend has a mutual friend with you, they can view your entire friends list still. They simply click ‘view all’ on the on the mutual friends box on your public profile and then ‘everyone’. This is a real concern and contradicts FB’s reactionary so called ‘fix’. If they have accepted that you must be able to hide friends from non friends, how can they ignore this flaw.

  25. Christian says:

    Don’t know who the f*** is responsible for the crap they did by limiting everyone’s right to decided for themselves, but I just canceled my account and went to another community, not as big yet, but I am pretty sure, many more will do very soon… We’ll see who will be laughing at the end…

  26. sohbet says:

    Nice sharing thanks

  27. Ripan Chowdhury says:

    now on profile, when click on blu pencil icon on friends list

    it shows: 1 check box: Show Friend List to everyone

    “Note: Your Friend List is always visible to you and your friends”

    That clearly means all my friends can see the friend list . BUT I DONT WANT TO SHOW…….

    Pls help.

  28. FaceBlock says:

    hi, im pretty sure that like a month ago, i didnt show up on my friends ‘friend lists’ for anyone. In the last couple of weeks Ive had people come up to me and say that they can see me in those friends lists. Whats changed this? and how can I go back to stealth mode? Its so terrible now, first people couldnt find me (which is what I wanted for most) and now I have people telling me they saw me and so I should add them to my friend list. wtf

  29. ugh says:

    this just stinks
    not only is my friends list viewable to all my “friends” even when i tell it not to be
    and it used to not be
    but now even when you set posts by friends to
    Posts by Friends
    Control who can see posts by your friends on your profile

    my friends can STILL SEE everything anyone is saying
    it is such a royal pain in the butt
    to have to go make up several individual lists
    to control what each group can see

    this just stinks!!!!

  30. Nyla Alisia says:

    I do not want ANYONE to have access to my friends list but me. Too much is shared on Facebook. I so not want it to post to the world every time I pee or leave a comment or add a friend, or reply to something or cheat on my diet! It is a good networking took if it was set up for that, but every morning I have to go on and delete pillow fights and all kinds of crap I have never even agreed to have on my page. I am about ready to loose my mind! THIS is supposed to be the adult site? I am trying to use this as a professional networking site and getting hit with a Scooby-Doo pillow, night be fun bedroom games for some, it’s just not for me! One thing I can say about Myspace, It is organized, easy to use and so customizable, and I have NEVER had to take off a comment that says, “We took a poll, is Nyla a virgin or not?” What the heck? If you turn off one function you loose others… it needs a lot of work!

  31. Brian Smith says:

    There are a 1001 reasons we don’t want our friends or family to see our “Friends” list. Facebook has selfish reasons why they did what they did… It’s all about the ratings to them and screw all the people that are negatively impacted by them benefiting by having your friends being visible.

    I think I’m going to deactivate all three of my accounts. I have one for work, family and play with several games going on them, but I hate the new settings and won’t stick around if they don’t change them. I’ll go back to MySpace.

    Get with it Facebook!

  32. kk says:

    PLEASE READ THIS: on ‘my profile’
    2.on the left you will ‘friends’ and just beside this there is a pencil icon.CLICK on that icon have 2 options there.1->show 6 friends and 2->show friend list.UNCHECK THE SECOND OPTION



  33. Vl says:

    The unchecked box in “show friends list” is still not working. What the hell is going on Facebook?

  34. Akhtar says:


    hey, kk… whats the point????

    This is what we are discussing about… we dont want to show our friends list to even our friends… its simple… dont you udnerstand…

    Facebook is already becoming fxxx-ing crazy, and people like you think, that we are fools…

    We simply want to have a COMPLETE control of our friend’s list, and sometimes we want to hide it even from our own friends… Is that clear, now????

  35. ?? says:

    hi, has anybody found out how to hide your friends list from everybody, including your own friends?

  36. britsbabe says:

    KK… this does not work. There is only really one option and the other option is to ‘show friends’ where you can just add the friends you want to have everyone see on your friends list. Unchecking ‘show friends list to everyone’ does NOT WORK! I hate, hate, hate FB for changing the privacy option to hide friends from friends as I’m now getting requests from people I DON’T EVEN KNOW! FB have screwed up bigtime!

  37. Hate FB says:

    Deleted my account for this reason back in Dec. I was recently told you can one again control friend lists. Then somehow today, I got an e-mail saying someone had reactivated my account (NO ONE has my pw…so I can only guess it was FB themselves). So I decided to check if anything has changed. NOPE! Deleted the account AGAIN. This is ridiculous.

  38. FB user says:

    Thanks fro the topic

    The question is how to hide friends to friends, so only me can see my friend list?

    Thank you

  39. chiu says:

    I decide to deactive my account today as “hide friends to friends” do work.

  40. chiu says:

    I decided to deactivate my account today as “hide friends to friends” do not work.

  41. James says:

    There is a fine print that says

    [ ] Show Friend List to Everyone
    Note: Your Friend List is always visible to you and your friends.

    So there doesn’t seem to have the ability to block your friends from seeing your friends list. This is crap and I am going to cancel my account.

  42. 22 says:

    Im also going to cancel my account

  43. Andy says:

    I will deactivate my account also. For privacy reasons I want the “hide friends to friends” to be ON again. I believe thousands of people want the same….

  44. Angry says:

    I did the same.

    I think if there is a big enough stink on this, then Facebook might actually do something about it, but the place to complain is YOUR OWN FRIENDS, so that THEY deactivate THEIR accounts too… it need only be temporary, then they can specify the reason as “because my friend cannot hide his/her friends list from his/her friends”.

    If everyone does it, you’ll be amazed how quickly things will change, but since the only people complaining are those in the help forums (which Facebook never reads anyway) and those on third party sites like this one, the chances of something being done is pretty slim. =)

    Facebook has millions of users, and only a few hundred of them are complaining about this privacy issue. I would bet that the people who need to know (Facebook developers), have no idea about threads like this.

  45. Logic says:

    Whoever Facebooks useability designer is failed useability class miserably. Its unbelievable how often they change their privacy settings and how illogical and fragmented they are in functionality. Let alone being able to find them without exhaustive google searching for help. Its very simple facebook! Make ONE PAGE and list ALL ELEMENTS OF THE PROFILE on it. Put ONE CHECKBOX next to each element with a “SHOW/HIDE” functionality. DONE. And LEAVE IT. Dont change it every 2 months! Even this article is outdates as the friends checkbox now says something completely different than the capture above!

  46. Pissed off Pixy says:

    I know it might be a stupid thing to some people. but for me, I am in a very competitive business. I work very hard and very long hours networking and building up my list of contacts, cultivating friendships and so on for my competitors, though friends in the business, can come onto my page and in 10 min click and obtain all the people I have worked so hard with. It is frustrating and I can find no solution. So I either delete my business friends because they are also my competition and are milking my hard work, which only leads to bad feelings…. or, let them stay and reap the rewards! I guess that is why Myspace is called MY space. I have control of all my settings there. There are things I like about facebook, but it is not worth what is is costing me in the long run!

  47. Jerry says:

    2.on the left you will ‘friends’ and just beside this there is a pencil icon.CLICK on that icon have 2 options there.1->show 6 friends and 2->show friend list.UNCHECK THE SECOND OPTION



  48. BoycottFB says:

    The fact that they now force you to show your list to all your different group of friends is totally outrageous! How could they take away privacy just like that without any notice!
    This is class action worthy. I’m sure it caused a lot problems to a lot of people (some for obvious business reasons). What where they thinking? What a bunch of idiots! Features that remove privacy should always be opt-in, but guess what, you can’t even opt-out… Obviously they don’t care about privacy, what will they do next?

  49. Rich says:

    privacy means privacy regardless of the reasons. FB has made a mistake with this approch. I am totally disappointed in their choice of options, which can cause more problems then it is worth to keep the account open.

  50. dynami says:

    thanks for the advice…totally saved me!!!

  51. Marc says:

    how about when i can see my friends page, I can see on the left side of page their friends. When I click on their “see all” friends, it takes me right back to my homepage. It does this on a few of my friends pages, but not all of them. How does this get fixed?

  52. kellie says:

    i am having the same problem as Marc. please someone tell me how to fix this.

  53. Lisa says:

    Same problem here but, it is just between me and one friend. When I click on her ‘see all’ friends link, it takes me to homepage. The same happens to her when she clicks on my ‘see all’ friends link.

    This problem seems to be only between us and not with any of my other friends.

    Please help us figure this out. It’s nice to see I’m not the only one but, ‘What gives?’

  54. ab says:

    I’m having the same problem with two of my friends lately. Each time I try to see their friend lists, I get bumped back to my News Feed. This is only an issue with these 2.

    What is going on?

  55. James says:

    I noticed a different problem.

    When I go to my friends profile I can only see his “Mutual Friends” but NOT his friends. However, when on the “Mutual Friends” popup window it allows me to search for his friends even though they are not visible…

    Anyone else know why this is occurring or having the same problem?


  56. Rolo says:

    You shold update this again. On May 2010 Facebook gave back the tool to hide friends.

    Go to:

    - Account
    - Privacy Settings
    - Friends, tabs and connections

    For ‘Friends’ you have three choices: Everyone, Friends of Friends, Friends or Custom

    To hide all your friends select “custom” and then in “Make this visible to” “These People” select “Only me”

  57. J. Jonah Hexas Texas says:

    Rolo, I go to Account>Privacy Settings but there is no ‘Friends,tabs and connections’ section there at all. Please explain in greater detail how to block Friends from seeing my Friends list. If I cannot figure this out today, I am deleting my account. This is bullcr*p! I need a wall of privacy between my professional colleagues and my actual friends! This is a MUST HAVE, NOT AN OPTION!

  58. Teresa says:

    Hi everyone, i have googled this, no post has helped but i found my way around. Here’s what you do.

    ACCOUNT TAB (at top right) > PRIVACY SETTINGS>
    At the top theres ‘BASIC DIRECTORY SECTTINGS’ – under it has words and says ‘view settings’ CLICK >
    You can now choose down the list.
    “See my friend list” – change as wish.

    Hope this helps.

  59. Robin says:

    Thanks so much!! I knew I had seen it somewhere but forgot where it was ; )

  60. Michele says:

    I don’t want a public search on google to pull up my wall page. That should just be for friends. I’ve checked off just friends but a public search for me immedialy shows by wall page.

  61. dex says:

    its not a big deal people, searching lists is how i find aquantices, or friends of friends,or etc.. its really helpful to see longlost friends etc

  62. tofa says:

    hi .. plz i really need u 2 reply bk as soon as possible .. my bf he protect his friendz on fb so i cant see his friends .. is their is any way i can see his friends ?? :( plz help me .. thou he is a contact

  63. rama says:

    plls reply.. if i hide news feed of my fren.. then can she view my news feeds.. or my news feeds will also b hidden from her?.. and will she know that i hav hidden her?..

  64. Josh Constine says:

    @Rama: Hiding a user from your news feed means that you will no longer see that user’s posts in your news feed. It has no effect on what your friend will see in their news feed.

  65. Agnieszka says:

    Hey, well my problem is that the new layout on facebook does not let me go on to ‘edit’ friends and untick the box as when I click on the ‘edit pen’ next to my friends list it automatically goes onto another page showing my family list and the edit button is not there anymore. I really need help!

  66. jojojo says:

    i type a name into the search on fb it will say underneath a certain number of mutual friends yet i click the profile and it is less are they are to hide these mutual friends???

  67. Amjad says:

    u can hide friends its very easy. go to “privacy settings” then connecting on facebook then “see ur friend list” change it the way u like .. its done..

  68. Hide friends | Purepassionbyk says:

    [...] Now, Facebook Lets Users Hide Friends From People Who Are Not …Dec 10, 2009 … As part of Facebook’s privacy changes yesterday, the company made users’ friends publicly available. While there was an option to hide your … [...]

Get the latest news in your inbox
interested in advertising with inside facebook?

Social Media Jobs
of the Day

Business Technology Editor

Washington, DC

Assistant Editor

8 Inc.
New York, NY

Editorial Manager

Air Age Media
Wilton, CT

Featured Company

Join leading companies like this one and recruit from the nation's top media job seekers on the Mediabistro Job Board. Every job post comes with our satisfaction guarantee. Learn More

Our Sponsors

Mediabistro A division of Prometheus Global Media home | site map | advertising/sponsorships | careers | contact us | help courses | browse jobs | freelancers | content | member benefits | reprints & permissions terms of use | privacy policy Copyright © 2014 Mediabistro Inc. call (212) 389-2000 or email us