How To: Lock Down Social Features in SharePoint 2010

by Richard Harbridge on February 20, 2012

After having provided these instructions to a few clients as part of broader SharePoint projects/strategies I thought I could share a short how to article that outlines everything you should need to know for locking down or deactivating SharePoint’s social features effectively. Hopefully after you lock them down you will roll them out in time so that your organization can realize the business benefit they provide in a more controlled/planned manner.

What follows are the tasks that could be executed after a SharePoint environment has been provisioned and validated. These tasks are specifically designed to remove, hide, or disable many of the social features from SharePoint 2010. Effectively if you follow all of these features you will have a ‘non socially enabled’ SharePoint 2010 implementation.

Authors Note: Please note that SharePoint 2010’s social features are extremely valuable and add considerable context and collaboration capabilities in a variety of settings. I would never recommend removing them/deactivating social features in SharePoint 2010 due to lack of understanding. However there are times when the features are fully understood and other applications/solutions are in play, or where the organization plans on rolling each feature out slowly along with training and communication to support it. In these latter cases it can be important to lock these features down or deactivate them; I am hoping this guide helps many people with those situations.

If you aren’t sure whether you should be locking these features down, or how to plan and roll out Social in your enterprise please feel free to contact me at or read Eight Key Considerations When Implementing SharePoint 2010 Social Capabilities.

Adjust User Profile Service Application Permissions

What follows are the steps that will be executed in order to ensure that certain social features are not available to users until the organization is ready to roll them out.

  1. Go to Central Administration > Application Management > Manage service applications > User profile service application
  2. From the ribbon, Click “Manage User Permissions” under People
  3. In the “Permissions for User Profile Service Application” pop up, select a user group, e.g. All authenticated Users.
  4. Uncheck the Create Personal Site and Use Social Features checkboxes.
  5. Click OK.

De-activate Farm Level Feature: Social Tags and Note Board Ribbon Controls

In order to ensure that Social Tags and Note Board Ribbon Controls are not available to users we will disable this farm level feature.

  1. Go to Central Administration > System Settings > Manage farm features
  2. De-activate Social Tags and Note Board Ribbon Controls.

Update MySite Host Navigation

Additional steps must be taken to remove the default links to different sections of a person’s profile page. To reset these settings it will be necessary to re-create these links.

  1. Navigate to the MySite Host root Site Settings page.
  2. Select Quick Launch
  3. Remove The Following Links:
    1. Description: “Content” & URL: “/personcontent.aspx”
    2. Description: “Tags and Notes” & URL: “/_layouts/thoughts.aspx”
    3. Description: “Colleagues” & URL: “/_layouts/MyContactLinks.aspx”
    4. Description: “Memberships” & URL: “/_layouts/MyMemberships.aspx”
    5. Optional: Any additional Libraries/Lists references.

Authors Note: Remember that by default the MySites have no way back to your Intranet or Portal. Make sure you have updated the MasterPage or navigation settings as needed to allow users to seamlessly move from the MySites/Profile pages to other key SharePoint systems.

Modify User Profile Properties

There are specific user profile properties that will be adjusted from SharePoint’s default settings.

  1. Go to Central Administration > Application Management > Manage service applications > User profile service application
  2. Select Manage User Properties
  3. Update Properties According To Excel Sheet (SharePoint User Profile Properties Listing)
    1. The Excel Sheet will highlight ‘changes’ in red. So when planning profile properties identify the changes you want/need and then keep a record of the changes in the Excel sheet itself in case you ever need to re-provision or re-create the environment.
    2. This is also extremely helpful when planning new property additions, or when working with external parties that need this data.

Change Default Page of MySite

Since your organization may not be using the Feeds or Activity features of SharePoint 2010 in phase 1 it makes sense to change the default page for MySite/Profiles to reference the profile page instead.

To change the default home page of the MySite Host Site Collection open the site collection in SharePoint Designer (you need to be a site collection owner of the my site host). After the site collection has been opened click on all files on the left hand side.

In the right main area you should see a bunch of items. One of these items will be default.aspx which is the current default page. There is also a person.aspx which is our desired default page. Select person.aspx and then in the ribbon click “set as home page”.

Modify Display of Status Message

Since the status message will give an error (due to it being disabled in the user properties) we need to load SharePoint Designer and edit the person.aspx page that we set as the default page.

To do this go back to SharePoint Designer and click the hyperlink for person.aspx this time and it will open in edit mode. Since we want to change settings set in the site definition we need to edit in Advanced Mode. To do this select Advanced Mode from the ribbon so that the page loads in advanced editing mode.


Once that is done the page will refresh and all of the code is now editable. Find the following div tag (surrounding StatusNotesControl) and hide it (using style=”display:none”) or comment it out.


Save your changes.

Close SharePoint Designer and go to your user profile. The Status Message control is not displayed.

To Remove Add As Colleague Button

The following can be added to the MySite Masterpage or appropriate CSS file to hide the ‘Add As Colleague’ button.

<style> .ms-my-addcolleague { DISPLAY: none }</style>

To Hide Social Webparts

There are a 3 social webparts that should be hidden by editing the person.aspx page in SharePoint.

  1. Navigate to a user profile.
  2. Click Site Actions > Edit Page.
  3. Click on the Ask Me About Webpart Header
  4. In The Ribbon Select Web Part Properties
  5. Expand Layout Section
  6. Check Hidden
  7. Click OK
  8. Click on the Recent Activities Webpart Header
  9. In The Ribbon Select Web Part Properties
  10. Expand Layout Section
  11. Check Hidden
  12. Click OK
  13. Click on the Note Board Webpart Header
  14. In The Ribbon Select Web Part Properties
  15. Expand Layout Section
  16. Check Hidden
  17. Click OK

Authors Note: “Due to the visual whitespace found on the page after hiding these controls I recommend adjusting the ‘My Organization Chart’ webpart’s layout setting so that it was displaying in the middle left zone and not the middle right zone.”

Hope this helps,
Richard Harbridge

{ 2 trackbacks }

My links of the week (weekly) « lateral thinking
February 25, 2012 at 8:47 pm
Tidbits from Richard Harbridge’s “Everything you need to know about SharePoint Social Capabilities” deck | Jeremy Thake's musings
September 15, 2013 at 2:19 pm

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Peter Pallierer May 21, 2012 at 5:41 am

Very good article – Most of the social Features are great but without a working governance is’s not a good idea to deploy them to the end user.
Unfortunately the link to the Excel file does not exist. Can you send it ?


2 Richard Harbridge May 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Apologies for that. The excel list is now attached. To use it simply make changes and the cells will be highlighted appropriately. 🙂


3 Diana McDonald August 3, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Excellent article. This is exactly what I am trying to do for our corporate site until we get all the governance issues taken care of.

Your instructions are very clear, but I am having one issue. I have edited the personcontent.aspx page to hide the Add as Colleage button. I can see in the design window of SPD that the button is not visible, the page is checked in and the site is closed, but the change is not applied to the site. I have checked all my permissions. I am administrator and owner of “My Site” and I also enabled all the SPD settings in “My Site” site settings. I also have the cached site data setting in SPD unchecked.

I can’t figure out why the change is not taking effect. Any ideas?


4 Richard Harbridge August 6, 2012 at 9:35 am

You say the page is checked in, but is it published? Sometimes it can be something small like that. 🙂


5 Diana McDonald August 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I thought you were going to say that.
I can’t figure out how to “Publish” . I don’t see an icon, there is no option on right click, and at checkin there is no option to publish a major version and checkin at the same time.

I am using the latest version of SharePoint Designer and SharePoint Standard. Sometimes the most obvious answer is the most difficult to see.


6 Richard Harbridge August 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Try navigating to the masterpage gallery. Under Site Settings > Site Collection Settings/Root > Master Page Gallery > Select Masterpage and select Approve, or Publish.


7 Diana McDonald August 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm

The mysite.master page does not have any version history, meaning SharePoint does not recognize that anyhting has been modified. The approve/reject and publish buttons are all greayed out. The personcontent.aspx page that has the change is not listed.

Maybe I missed something in your instructions above.

I have disabled the Permissions for User Profile Service Application and hidden the 3 social webparts. I did not change the default page (we don’t care about this) and I have not seen any issue with the status message (yet). The only thing I can’t seem to get is the one I wanted most to remove, the Add as a Colleague button.

I have to admit that I am a newby with SharePoint Designer. I have been working with Sharepoint 2003, 2007 for a while and now 2010. I did just complete a class, and your directions are so clear. Seems like the SharePoint Designer is disconnected at least to the mysite. I open SPD using the link in site settings so that I know I have the correct page. I don’t yet understand the relationship between the master pages and the other pages (person.aspx and personcontent.aspx, etc.)

I really appreciate your help.

8 Diana McDonald August 6, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I figured it out!!
I was editing the personcontent.aspx page instead of person.aspx.

I have been reading many sites on this subject and somewhere I picked up on the personcontent page. Both the person.aspx and personcontent.aspx appear the same in design view.

I decided to remove the status message as you suggested and noticed that just below the statusNotes tag, there was an AddtoColleague tag. I hid both tags and Voila!

Thank you so very much 🙂


9 Richard Harbridge August 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Apologies, hopefully I can find more time later this week to give more exact instructions or help troubleshoot the issue. For now hopefully this will help: – It pretty clearly outlines everything you need to know on top of the minor CSS change I was recommending.


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