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With Microsoft® Lync™ Online communications software, you use privacy relationships to control how much of your presence information others see. Contacts are assigned one of five privacy relationships, and each relationship provides access to a different set of information. For example, Colleagues, which is the relationship all new contacts that are in your organizations are given when you add them, can see more of your information than External Contacts but less than Friends and Family. This topic describes what information each privacy relationship provides access to, how to change the privacy relationship that you have with a contact, and how to hide certain details from everyone.

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Understand presence and privacy relationships

Your presence information includes your availability status (such as available or away), presence indicator (such as green, yellow, or red), schedule, location, and personal and out-of-office notes. The following table shows which presence information attributes are available for a given privacy relationship. Contacts with whom you have a Workgroup relationship are likely to be important. Only these contacts can interrupt you when you have set your status to Do Not Disturb.

Note:  Non-buddies when in Enhanced Privacy Mode, and blocked contacts will see only your display name and email address


Presence Information

External Contacts



Friends and Family

Presence Status

Display Name

Email Address

Title *

Work Phone *

Mobile Phone *

Home Phone *

Other Phone

Company *

Office *

Work Address *

SharePoint Site *

Meeting Location #

Meeting Subject #

Free Busy

Working Hours

Location #

Notes (Out-of-Office Note)

Notes (Personal)

Last Active

Personal Photo Web Address

  • Presence information items with an asterisk (*) beside them indicates that if these attributes are defined in the company’s directory service, they are visible to all contacts in your organization, regardless of privacy relationship. They are also visible to external contacts outside your organization (if configured and recognized by your organization’s network).

  • Presence information items with a pound sign (#) beside them are enabled by default.

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Change the privacy relationship for a contact

To change the privacy relationship you have with a contact, do the following:

  • Open Lync Online, and, in your Contacts list, right-click a contact, point to Change Privacy Relationship, and then click a new privacy relationship for the contact.

Personalize Contact Information

By default, contacts are assigned the Colleagues privacy relationship when you add them to your Contacts list, which means they have access to your Work Phone number only. If you publish other phone numbers (by clicking the Options button from the Lync main window, clicking Phones, and then typing the numbers), especially a home or mobile phone number, you should ensure that privacy relationships are set to:

  • Make the number available to those contacts you want to have access to the number.

  • Make the number unavailable to those contacts you do not want to have access to the number.

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Hide your activity feed

By default, for everyone except Blocked Contacts and External Contacts, updates to your personal note will appear in their Activity Feed list. You can change this, by doing the following:

  1. In the Lync main window, click the Options button.

  2. In the Lync - Options dialog box, click Personal.

  3. Near the bottom of the right pane, under Activity Feed, clear the Show all my updates in Activity Feed check box. Changes to your status will appear only with your presence status, for example in others’ Contacts list.

Hide Activity Feed

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Hide your location

By default, Lync Online updates your location when you log on from different places. You can hide this information from others, by doing the following:

  1. In the Lync main window, click the location menu, below your name.

  2. Clear the Show Others My Location check box.

Set location for Lync

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Enable Privacy Mode

By default, everyone except Blocked Contacts can see your presence status. For additional privacy, you can do the following:

  1. In the Lync main window, click the Options button.

  2. In the Lync - Options dialog box, click Status, and then do one of the following:

  3. Click I want everyone to be able to see my presence regardless of system settings (override default settings)

  4. Click I want the system administrator to decide - currently everyone can see my presence but this could change in the future

    Privacy Status

Your organization may have enabled Privacy Mode in Lync Online. If this is the case, you can choose whether to limit visibility of your presence information to only those people you’ve added to your Contacts list:

  • I want everyone to be able to see my presence

  • I only want people in my Contacts list to see my presence

Important:  If you are running Lync Online in Privacy Mode, older versions of Microsoft Communicator will be blocked.

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