Facebook Spring Cleaning

I came to Facebook as an early adopter, so have witnessed the various phases of acceptance it has gone through from “it is just like MySpace without custom pages” to “my grandma just friended me on Facebook”. While I find it to be an amazing tool for communication and global connection there are aspects that drive me crazy (Farmville) and have reduced my overall interest in the site.

I have found that editing these items from being viewable allows me to better enjoy all the other features I find essential. I was inspired after watching last week’s South Park episode (“You have zero friends”) about Facebook’s most annoying features to put together a few ways to clean up the application to find what you need and avoid the rest of the mess.

Hiding items in your feed

I’m often surprised how many acquaintances have yet to notice this feature. This is the easiest way to clean up all the unwanted apps and excessive posts by certain users. Simply click “Hide” on an item you don’t want to see. Facebook will ask you whether you want to hide that person or page, once you confirm it, you won’t see anything from them again. If you want to bring some of the hidden items back, click on Edit Options and you’ll see a list of all the people and Pages you’ve hidden.

You can also edit the settings of specific apps that your friends are using that keep popping up on your wall. For example, if you’re not interested in Farmville, you probably don’t want to see how your friends’ crops are doing.  Click on Account – Application Settings, and choose Show – Authorized from the drop down menu.

Friend lists

Last week’s South Park episode beautifully illustrated one of the biggest challenges of Facebook: you don’t communicate the same way to everyone you know. A newsworthy event among your friends might be something you would not ever mention to your grandmother or business colleagues. This is where lists come in handy which will let you filter your news feed and the chat box. The process can be a little tedious, but trust me it can make a huge difference.

The whole point of the exercise of creating lists is to filter the information that certain groups receive. I find Facebook to be a great tool for a small business and make “friends” with business contacts I barely know to subtly alert them about news for my company. Since these are not close personal friends I prefer they do not see some of my personal activities for reasons of privacy and safety. So I have adjusted settings on a list for these types of connections that allows them to only see certain types of posts to my profile.

Lists are displayed under Friends in the Facebook homepage; click on it to see all the lists you’ve created. To edit lists, click on Account – Edit Friends. From there, you can add or remove friends from your lists, delete lists or create new ones. To use lists, simply go to your homepage, and click on a list; you’ll only see news items created by the people you’ve added to that list.

Cleaning up the Facebook interface can allow you to more easily view the information and news items you are interested in and to avoid some of the nuisances. Also, creating lists of friends with filters can ensure that your “friends” are all seeing appropriate information about you and your activities. This spring, spend a few minutes spring cleaning your Facebook account to be more targeted and efficient.


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