Monday, March 18, 2013

How to enjoy Facebook again

Is Facebook frustrating you, because of all the "noise" - the constant status updates from friends that you just are NOT interested in or that get your blood boiling? The game invites? The advertising your friends are promoting because they keep liking things like shoe companies? The fear over how Facebook might use your data?

If you are frustrated with Facebook, then in many ways, it's your own fault: Facebook content that you see is, the majority of the time, content you have CHOSEN to see, directly or indirectly. If you don't like what you're seeing, then you need to make some different choices. 

Rather than deleting your Facebook account, or unfriending people, here are 11 easy ways you can make Facebook fun instead of frustrating:

Take annoying friends out of your newsfeed, rather than unfriending them. 
No person you do this to will know you've done this - though they may suspect it if you don't ever comment on their status updates. It's easy to do: 
  • Go to the person's Facebook page (you can get there by clicking on the person's name, or typing it into the search field). 
  • Then, over your cursor over the "friends" button at the top of the page. A menu will appear, and there will be a check next to "show in newsfeed." 
  • Click on that to uncheck it, and you will no longer see that person's status updates in your newsfeed, EVER - but you can always go to the person's page whenever you feel like it and comment on status updates if you want to. 
OR, you can choose "settings" and choose exactly what status updates you want to get in your newsfeed, versus those you don't (like game invitations).  

Stop the game & apps invitations.
You can use the aforementioned step, under "settings," to block game invitations from the people who are annoying you with these. Also, each time you get a game or app invite, go to your Facebook home page, and on the left side of the page, click on "App Center." This allows you to both block any invitations regarding that app or game ever again, AND to block all invites from the person that sent you the invite. After doing this for just a few weeks, you will see a huge drop in the number of invites you receive - in fact, they may disappear altogether, if it's the same friends sending you these invites again and again. Your friends will never know you've blocked their game and app invites. 

Hide advertisements your friends have posted in your newsfeed
Sometimes, a Facebook user will like a store or product and not realize this like generates an ad on the newsfeed of ALL their friends. The first step in this list will take care of that for frequent offenders among your friends. Another strategy is this: if you put your mouse to the right of the ad in your newsfeed, or for any notice on your newsfeed, for that matter, an arrow pointing down will appear. Click on it and you will get a short menu. One of the choices is "hide." Choose it, and not only will the ad be hidden, you will often get a choice to block ALL ads from that particular company. Do this for a few weeks, and you will see the number of ads in your newsfeed drop significantly - but they will never disappear altogether. 

Don't like absolutely everything/anything
When you like something, you are saying to all of your Facebook friends "I want to be identified with this company/causes." And if you are liking a company or product, you are also saying, "Please put advertisements in my newsfeed." Instead, be deliberate about your "likes". What would you like to read everyday: updates from your state parks agency? updates from nonprofit organizations you like? advice on saving money? funny cartoons? inspirational sayings that reflect your values/beliefs? political updates in line with your values? Seek out the pages of organizations, media outlets and causes that you truly want to read about EVERY DAY, and like those - and only those. 

Don't be afraid to say no to a friend request
I've said "no" to invites. People have said "no" to my invitations. Because I've said no to many people, I understand completely why others have said "no" to me - just as I don't invite everyone I know to a barbecue in my backyard, I may not want you to be on my Facebook community of friends, and vice versa.  I have family members who are not Facebook friends specifically for this reason. 

Do not share anything on Facebook you wouldn't be comfortable with ANYONE seeing. 
You cannot complain about Facebook privacy settings constantly changing - the company has NO obligation to make confidential information you freely share online with your friends via its platform. Instead of whining about it, start being as savvy as you are offline about what you put in writing, what information you share with strangers, what photos you take, and what photos you share. And the reality is, unless the photo is of you doing something illegal, or doing something that might get you fired, most people, even strangers, DON'T care. 

Feel free to ask friends to take something down.
If someone shares a photo of you on Facebook and you don't want it online, call them or email them directly and ask them to take it down. If they refuse, it's time to unfriend - online and in real life. 

Take your birthday and physical address off of Facebook. 
GET IT OFF OF THERE. Your birthday and mailing address are pieces of precious information that can be used to find out just about anything about you. It's used by third party apps that Facebook to find out more about you so they can better sell you stuff - and by nefarious people and organizations that want to rip you off. An alternative is to put your birthday on your "events" on Facebook, as an annual event, and invite everyone to it. Or post the day before your birthday and say, "Holy cow, I turn xx years old tomorrow!" But get your birthday OFF Facebook! Fine to put your city and state and country there, but leave other info that can be used to find you off your "about" page. 

Take your middle name off Facebook unless it's what most people call you.
Your middle name is another piece of precious information that can be used to find out just about anything about you. It's used by third party apps that Facebook to find out more about you so they can better sell you stuff - and by nefarious people and organizations that want to rip you off. 

Don't use Facebook to log in to anything else! 
When you get that "login with Facebook?" screen, ignore it and look for the "create an account" instead. When you use Facebook to log in to a non-Facebook site, you are giving that site access to ALL INFORMATION YOU HAVE POSTED TO FACEBOOK. Don't do it! 

You might need two Facebook accounts. 
This is a big violation of Facebook's policy, and if you get caught, you will get a warning message the next time you log into Facebook saying they know and that you have to delete one of the accounts. Still, it's a strategy worth trying if you really want to use Facebook in two different ways - one with good friends and one a more public face where you friend co-workers, neighbors, colleagues, etc. To do it successfully (and I offer no guarantees that you still won't get nabbed):
  • Create two slightly different account names - one could be your real name and one could have an extra letter somewhere in your first or last name, or "Q" as the middle initial, or just your first name's initial. 
  • Create different locations for these two profiles - one listing the city where you really are, and one for a city nearby or for a city where you would love to be. 
  • Don't friend exactly the same people for these two profiles - you could have a *few* friends on both accounts, but the more friends these two accounts share, the more likely Facebook will catch you. 
  • Do NOT put your current and previous employers in both accounts - put such in ONLY the account you consider your more public account for colleagues and co-workers. 
  • Do NOT put your family connections in both accounts - if you want to show to whom you're married, who your Mom and Dad are, siblings, etc., choose one account or the other, but don't try to do it on both.
  • You will have to use two different email addresses for each of these accounts.
  • Do all you can to make these individual profile's "about me" sections as different as possible. 
Happy Facebooking!

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