For many, the Facebook News Feed is the modern-day equivalent of socializing next to the water cooler. Whether it’s to argue politics, laugh over memes, or share pictures of lunch, Facebook is the place where everyone naturally gravitates to, for better or for worse.
But the more “friends” you accumulate, the noisier the News Feed gets. And in all that noise, it becomes extremely difficult to separate what is worth reading, and what is just another “It’s all Obama’s fault!” graphic.
Here are some ways you can tweak that News Feed to your advantage.
Unfollow Annoying Friends (Without Making Them Realize It)
The first thing you should do, is the thing you should force yourself to do on a regular basis. Constantly review and prune your list of “friends”.
Because if you have any more than say 100 “friends”, then they are likely not really friends at all. I mean, who can honestly claim they have more than 100 real friends? Apart from narcissists and politicians of course.
But hey, I get it. People are such tender sensitive wilting flowers these days, who get offended and upset easily. And if that person is a colleague, or boss, or relative, then you really need to keep them in your good books.
Unfriending them is not going to help you in that department. So you need to do it on the sly. It’s even worse if that person is spouting off extreme political and religious views, or generally being obnoxious. And follow my golden rule – never have family as your Facebook friends. Especially if you are sharing news that you don’t want sent straight back to your mother. I speak from experience.
The trick is NOT to unfriend them, but instead to seriously curtail the number of posts you are going to see from them (and restrict what they see from you). You can do the first part of this by unfollowing them entirely. Just head to their profile, click on “Following” and choose the “Unfollow XYZ” option.
If you don’t want to go quite that far, the other option is when you see a post from them, drop down the list on the right, where you will see this (names have been blurred out to protect the innocent).
You have several options here to be anti-social. Pick door number one – Hide post. See fewer posts like this. It will then take the post away and give you this message.
Again, option number one, which will tell Facebook to give you less from that person.
Now you can make sure they don’t see very much from you in return.
Drop down the Friends menu and you will see the option Add to another list…
The Restricted option will then show up. Putting that obnoxious person in the Restricted column will mean they will only see your Public updates. Anything which is not set to Public will be hidden from them.
Silence Never-Ending Threads
I’m sure you’ve been in more than one of these. You start commenting in a thread, which subsequently goes on forever and ever, and ever… pretty soon, what people are talking about bears no relation to the original post.
Suddenly people are bickering, at least one person is compared to Hitler, and it all goes downhill from there. Meanwhile you’re sitting at your desk praying to whatever God you believe in to rescue you from this mess. Thankfully, there is an easy way to silence the mob.
On the right hand side of the notification box, when you mouse over it, is a small cross which says “Turn Off”. If you click that, it will turn off all future notifications for that status update. But in the future, if you decide to rejoin the conversation, you can click that cross, and turn the notifications back on again.
One curious thing though is that the “Turn Off” option doesn’t appear on all of the post notifications right away. So if the option is yet to appear, you may have to put up with a discussion on what animal Donald Trump’s hair is made of, for just a while longer.
Adjust News Feed To “Most Recent”
One of the really annoying things about Facebook is when they decide what you should and should not read. So “Top Stories” get top placement, while other smaller posts get pushed down into oblivion. I mean, when you look at your News Feed, you want to be able to see the current projected date of the apocalypse, and not what people thought it would be 15 hours ago.
So you need to see the Most Recent posts instead of Top Stories. There are two ways you can go about this. First, go to your menu on the top left hand side, and drop down the menu that says News Feed. You will then get two options — Top Stories, and Most Recent. Choose the latter.
The second option is to use this URL — https://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_chr . This will always ensure that you are looking at your most recent stories. To ensure you are always using this URL, make a browser shortcut and put it in your Bookmarks Bar for easy access. Or type it in a few times into your browser, and next time your browser auto-completes the Facebook URL, up it pops.
Report Offensive Posts
Sometimes you will see posts in your News Feed which will quite frankly offend you, or make you feel sick looking at it. Facebook may have decided to place a sponsored post in your News Feed, or one of your “friends” has decided to post something which they find “mega-cool”, but in reality, your lunch and your body are about to part company at any minute.
If that’s the case, you can report the post as “offensive”, which is quite easy to do. Now look at this photo of a potato which may or may not remind you of certain body parts. I am SHOCKED! SCANDALIZED! What will I tell the children? Time to teach that Facebook buddy a lesson.
Click on Report Post and you will then be asked your reasons.
Unfortunately there’s no “it reminds me of women’s boobies” option, so pick one of the options provided. Then the post will be “reported” to Facebook. Whether they follow up on these complaints, and how long it takes, is anybody’s guess.
Pin Important Friends / Companies At The Top
An interesting and extremely useful feature is when you can tell Facebook to watch a friend or page’s news feed. Then every time a new post comes out by that person or page, it is “pinned” to the top of your News Feed with a small blue star. This ensures that their new post is the first thing you see when you go to your News Feed.
In the Liked button, when you click Follow, you will see two options appear. One is See First and the other is Default. The Default one is always ticked, so click See First to have that page’s new posts appear at the top of your News Feed with that blue star.
Get Notified When a Friend Posts
In among all the sponsored posts, and boring family drivel about Uncle Billy winning the local pie eating contest, you may be waiting for a particular person to post something. If you don’t get notified the moment it hits the News Feed, you may miss it. But Facebook has you covered there as well.
Go to the person’s Facebook profile (or mouse over their name to have a box pop up). Click on Get Notifications. A small tick will appear. Congratulations. You’ve done it. That was difficult, wasn’t it?
It also works with posts too, if you see a post which you are not commenting on, but you still want to follow the conversation. What I like to call “Lurker Mode”.
I end with perhaps the most useful feature to tame your wild News Feed page — lists. Yep, sorry. I know you were probably expecting something much more exciting. But hear me out for a minute before you head off to YouTube for your extended session of watching a dog on a skateboard.
Facebook lists is where you categorize each of your friends into a particular list, the names of which you create. For example, you may decide to have a Family list or a Work Colleagues list. Or a “People I Have To Tolerate” list. You get the idea.
Facebook already gives you three default lists — Close Friends, Acquaintances, and Restricted (as we discussed before). After that, it invites you to create your own lists.
Once you have people separated into groups, the lists will appear in the left hand column of the News Feed page. Then it is simply a case of clicking on a list, and all of the posts for those people will appear. Once you’ve seen those posts, click the next list, rinse and repeat.
How Do YOU Roll With Your News Feed?
We’ve come up with seven advanced options to tweak your news feed, but maybe we missed out an obvious one? If so, don’t hesitate to educate us in the comments below.