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Like social networking sites as a whole, Facebook can be a force for good, even though it seems to have been doing everything in its power to turn its userbase off, as of late. The problem is Facebook can also be a force for evil, but it’s more about how we, the people, use Facebook, than it is about how Facebook uses us. Essentially, if you stay on top of your account, maintaining your profile and not letting the data it leaks get out of hand, you can control Facebook rather than letting Facebook control you.
This isn’t actually that hard to do. As well as keeping up to date on the various changes made to site policy and regularly checking your privacy settings to ensure they are still doing what you want them to do, you should be cleaning up your Facebook on a regular basis. And what better time to do so than the new year.
Whether you call it a fresh start or a spring clean, the result is the same: a sparkling fresh Facebook organized enough for anyone to cope with. What follows are the main areas to focus on in order to clean up Facebook, and the methods to employ to achieve that goal.
First up is your profile, the landing page for acquaintances old or new who clicks on your name. You may not have visited your profile in a long time, and that’s the first thing to rectify. Click on your name and see how the world sees you on Facebook. Then set to work making sure everything is up to date and as you wish it to be.
First, make sure your profile and cover photos are exactly as you’d want them to be. Is your profile photo recent and showing you in the best light possible? If a stranger was to see one photo of you, would you want it to be that particular one? Is your cover photo recent or at least relevant? Does it sum you and your personality up in a pleasing manner?
Next up is the masses of information Facebook would like you to provide it with. Click on your profile and then click Update Info underneath your cover photo. You’ll be presented with a list of information and questions, and it’s simply a case of ensuring everything is up to date. You can of course leave it all blank, and this is one instance in which less could actually be more.
Last but not least are your favorites, which can be found under Likes. These are the music, movies, books etc. that you’ve stated you like. Have they changed recently? Would you rather not provide that information any more? Either way, just click on any to be taken to the Facebook page of that favorite, where you can simply click Unlike to have it removed from your wall of Likes.
Facebook has become something of a killer app for photos, with millions of people sharing billions of photos with family and friends. The problem is it’s easy to forget the amount of photos you have uploaded, and, more importantly, the nature of them all. As life moves on the photos we want to see and share changes, so it’s a good idea to regularly make sure all of the photos you have on Facebook are relevant.
Click on Photos and you can view them in a number of different ways. Go through and prune any you’d rather were no longer on Facebook, even if you have to download them first to ensure they’re not lost forever. Look for those which show you in a bad light, or which feature someone you no longer wish to be associated with. Always consider how you’d feel about a stranger viewing your collection of photos for the first time.
Facebook doesn’t make it very easy to see all of the pages you have subscribed to or liked, but there is a way. Click on your profile, then click Likes, then click Show Other Pages. You’ll then get a long list of pages that you can use to decide which you still want to interact with. If there are any that you are no longer interested in just click through to them individually, click the Settings button and finally click Unlike.
After clearing the boards in this way you may want to find new pages to like, and strangely enough Facebook makes this process much easier. Simply click on Like Pages in the left-hand sidebar, and you’ll be presented with a list of recommendations. Click on any that interest you and you may find a gem that is kept in great shape.
It’s very easy to be gently persuaded into joining groups on Facebook. If a friend sets one up then you may feel obliged to do so, as an obvious example. But every now and then you need to have a purge in order to save your sanity. Now is the time to do just that, and it’s surprisingly easy to manage the groups you’re a member of.
All of the groups you’re in will be displayed in the left-hand sidebar. If you no longer want to be a member of any of them then click on the Settings button and finally click Leave Group. A word of warning, however. Once you leave a group it will continue on without you, unless you were the sole administrator. So only leave if you’re happy to miss any future postings to that group.
Apps are commonplace on Facebook, and that means you’ve likely added a great deal of them over the years. You’ve also likely forgotten about some of them, and if you no longer wish to use them it would be a good idea to remove them completely or at least limit their access to your account. Luckily apps have their own dedicated section on Facebook. Just click the Settings button, Account Settings, and then Apps.
You’ll then get presented with a list of the apps you use. First, scan the list and see if there are any you’d like to delete altogether. If so then simply click the small ‘x’ to remove them from your Facebook. Alternatively you can click Edit and change what the app does and what actions it notifies you of.
Friends are the very essence of Facebook. If you have none then you may as well delete your account altogether, have too many and any chance of meaningful relationships and conversations occurring is gone. How many Facebook friends is too many? That’s for you to decide, but Dunbar’s number stands at 150, which is how many people an individual can theoretically maintain personal relationships with.
Friendships manifest in many different ways, and it’s for you to decide what level of friendship you want to retain with people on Facebook. The strictest would be sticking with family members, the loosest would be adding anyone who asks, even strangers. Whatever method you subscribe to, having an occasional purge is heartily recommended.
An alternative to actually deleting friends is organizing them into lists. You can then choose which groups of friends will receive each of your updates, and it makes the whole act of keeping up with everybody from blood relations through to random acquaintances a whole lot easier.
As noted at the start of this article, social networking only works for an individual if they’re willing to put the time and effort into maintaining their presence on each of the different sites. This is especially true if a site is free to use, as you’re then the commodity and everything you do on that network is data waiting to be used or sold.
Cleaning up your Facebook regularly is the only way to ensure you’re staying in control and able to keep a tight grip on this one aspect of your online life. The good news is it’s never too late to give your Facebook a nice dusting down, working through its many elements one by one. Follow these steps now, but also bookmark the article in order to repeat the process every few months.
Image Credit: Lena