Take stock of your social presence. How many friends do you have? Do you have work colleagues, family, close friends, distant acquaintances or all the above in your friends list? I'm going to assume that in-person you tend to share different degrees of personal information depending on the relationship you have with the individual that you're speaking with? Do you practice that same discretion when posting photos and status updates?
Barry Schnitt, director of policy communications at Facebook, has some tips to get you started in separating business from pleasure:
• Make a limited set of information that helps people find and connect with you available to everyone—information like "About Me" and where you work or go to school.
• For more sensitive information, like photos and videos in which you've been tagged and your phone number, we recommend a more restrictive setting.
• As always, you can block specific users, which prevents them from seeing any of your information or contacting you on Facebook. No matter what section you choose, you'll see an identical setting selector with three basic levels of privacy: Friends, Friends of Friends and Everyone.
Once you've taken the basic steps above, you can develop specific friends lists. I suggest you divide your existing contacts into friends, family and work-related as a start, and then use privacy settings to limit what each group can see. In the weeks to come, we'll talk about status updates, applications and turning social networking into a tool to help you accomplish your goals. For now, if you've taken the first step to set your privacy settings, well done. Have a virtual beer on me.