Can I create custom permissions for spaces that are only visible to certain users?

In a scenario where Confluence is being used by a mix of staff and by external users (with various spaces set up for just staff, a mix of both, or just externals), staff will want other staff to see their room and number, but might not want external users to see that information.

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Hello Helen - 

You will want to get familiar with this doc (and sub sections) - https://confluence.atlassian.com/display/DOC/Giving+People+Access+to+Content 

You might also want to look at this plugin given your scenario with external users 

http://www.appfusions.com/display/PPARTS/Home

I need to know if it's possible (by developing or by plugin) to make certain fields on the profile page restricted to certain users only, i.e. add a level of granularity beyond page, i.e. set permissions by space, by page, and by section on page (in this case, the profile page)

PS ... so other/external people can see my profile page and they can see my name, description, etc, but can't see my location or my phone number (but a fellow member of staff can)

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Changing your title from "custom profiles" to "permissions" vs profiles, which is the context that you are really referring to (and aligns with how documented). "Rooms" in Confluence are referred to as "spaces"

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Hi Ellen - thanks for the response, although I think changing my original question title has made it different from the question I was asking - see response to your answer.

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