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How long is it since you joined Facebook? Five years? 10? And in that time, your interests have changed, right? But does Facebook know this?
Or is the social network regularly showing you posts and pages based on the topics you showed interest a decade ago?
If your news feed is becoming cluttered with information about boy bands or toys or video games or TV shows that you grew out of years ago, you’ll know what I’m talking about. So, what can you do about it? How can you make the Facebook news feed relevant to you?
It’s all about management. The information Facebook has about you and your interests is out of date. All you need to do is manage the data for them, much as you would hide personal data from other Facebook users. The end result is a tidier, more relevant news feed. It’s a bit like blocking the politics, but for your personal interests.
Unfollow Accounts You No Longer Read
Start by opening up your friends list. Are there people here who you don’t wish to see updates from anymore? Obviously, if they’re people you don’t want a long-term connection with you should unfriend them.
But if you would like to maintain an avenue of contact without being subjected to items they share that don’t interest you, you should simply unfollow them.
Open the user’s Facebook profile page. Here, look for the Following button, and click to reveal a short menu. Select the Unfollow option at the bottom of the list.
From now on, items shared by this person will not appear in your feed. Rinse and repeat as required throughout your friends list.
Hide Items You Don’t Like
The next step is to hide posts on topics you’re not interested in. This is just as simple, but will take longer to do.
When you find an item you don’t want to see again, on a topic you’ve lost interested in, you have two options.
- You can Hide post. This is available via the down-pointing arrow at the side of the item on your Facebook feed. It will dismiss the post. A Hide post option is also available in the live feed on the right of the screen.
- Alternatively, if the culprit is repeatedly sharing material you wish to ignore, use the Hide all from option. This will work on posts from pages, and from people.
However, don’t expect instant results. Because you have so many contacts, and potentially so many topics you’re no longer interested in, it will take patient monitoring of your feed over several days.
Review Your Page and Group Likes
Similarly, you’ll need to spend time reviewing the pages and groups that you like. Those you interact with regularly will be listed on the left-hand side of the page. You’ll also have separate menu items for Pages and Groups — this is where you’ll get to the detailed lists.
In Pages, the list of Liked Pages can only be managed very slowly. Find the page you want to discard, open it, then hover the mouse over the Liked button, and click Unlike this page.
For groups, click the Groups option. The list will default to the Discover option, so click Groups in the top-left corner. Here you will find a list of the Facebook groups you’ve previously joined. End your relationship with these groups — and therefore block future off-topic interruptions in your newsfeed — by clicking the Settings cog next to each and clicking Leave group.
While you can manage the notification options (Edit Notification Settings) to reduce the clutter in your feed, this option won’t stop Facebook using the group to gauge your interest in the topic.
You can also open a group to check what it is, and click the Joined button to display the Leave group button.
Manage Your Advertiser Profile
Much of what you see in your Facebook feed is placed there by Facebook itself, not because you’re a member of a specific group, but because of an interest. These will typically be promoted posts. Using the unlike option for topical pages is just one way to top this. A more direct way of managing what promoted posts are seen is to change your advertiser profile.
Each Facebook user has a hidden profile that is compiled specifically for the use of displaying targeted adverts. By managing topics that Facebook has detected you’re interested in (data gathered from your previous activity), you can reduce the incidence of irrelevant updates.
To do this, open the Facebook Ad Preferences screen. Here you’ll find several areas for you to edit, but the most important is the Your Interests section. Split into groups (News and entertainment, People, and Hobbies and Activities, among others), this section can be edited, allowing you to discard topics you have no continuing love for.
All you need to do is mouse over the interest and click the X in the top-right corner. If you clicked in error, the + button can be clicked to quickly restore it. Keep removing items of interest until you’re done.
Engage With New Interests
Doing all of the above is useful, but for faster results, you need to engage with your new interests. Find the relevant pages, like the appropriate posts your contacts share, and comment on them. All of this helps Facebook to revise your profile. It’s essentially rewriting the digital you, the Facebook interpretation of your existence. (And if you find that unsettling, remember that Facebook has profiles for people not even on the social network…)
Once this is done, the news feed should suddenly become relevant again.
Make Facebook Work for You!
There are only so many items you can read on Facebook. The site’s own algorithms ensure that you see what Facebook thinks you want to see. When it gets it wrong, you’re likely to just go and do something else.
These five steps will help you to refocus Facebook, and start enjoying what it shares again:
- Unfollow and unfriend accounts you no longer feel connected to.
- Hide Facebook feed items you don’t like.
- Review your page likes and group memberships, “unliking” what you don’t like and leaving groups you’re no longer interested in.
- Edit your advertiser profile to shape what Facebook shows you.
- Engage with new interests, and show Facebook how much you like them.
Have you had problems finding relevant material on Facebook? Found your newsfeed full of material you no longer care about? These tricks should fix your problem. If you need help, let me know in the comments.
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