public service announcement.

This is a public.  Service.  Announcement.  With guitaarrrrrrrrrssss!
— The Clash

Despite the fact that people don’t have guns to their heads forcing them to sit on Facebook all day, I hear a lot of people complain about how annoyed they are about different aspects of it.  This is what it sounds like to me:

  • “Oh, that site I choose to spend my time on is all clogged up with Farmville requests!”
  • “Waaahh, that site I choose to be a part of is less useful to me because I don’t want my grandparents reading all my posts.”
  • “Sniffle sniffle, this annoying person updates their status 97,000 times per day and I choose to look at it EACH TIME!”

I understand that novices at the social networking game have been lured in with promises of getting back in touch with their friends from the City High School Class of 1909, and have been confronted with a flashy, fast-paced interface and a confusing world of seemingly endless privacy settings.  It makes sense that they might find this whole thing overwhelming.  The rest of you know how to use help documentation and have no excuse.  It’s for the many novices who have asked me for help on this, as well as for the rest of you who are too embarrassed to ask or too lazy to type a search into Google, that I present these tips for easier Facebook navigating.  There are lots of other ways to improve Facebook for yourself, but these are probably the ones people ask about the most.  I sincerely hope they help you make your decision to enjoy social networking, or to abandon it.

Hiding

or How to Make It So That You Don’t See Certain People

  • When looking at your homepage, scroll down to the offending person’s post.
  • Roll the mouse over it.
  • A little Hide button will appear.  Click on it.
  • Click on Hide John Doe or whatever the person’s name is.
  • Now this person’s posts won’t appear on your wall!  If you go to John Doe’s page purposefully, you can still see whatever he posted, but otherwise he won’t exist to you anymore.  Huzzah!  Now, assuming he is a really nice person IRL, you can get back to focusing on that aspect of your acquaintance.

Lists

or How to Make It So That Certain People Don’t See Your Stuff

  • At the top, right-hand corner of your homepage, click on Account.
  • Click on Edit Friends.
  • Click on Create New List at the top of the page.
  • In the box that says Enter a name, enter the name of your list (for example, “people I don’t know very well.”)
  • In the box below that, scroll around and select people to add to it.
  • Click Create List at the bottom of the box.
  • Now that the list is created, we can edit the privacy permissions for the list.  At the top, right-hand corner of your homepage, click on Account.
  • Click on Privacy Settings.
  • Click on Personal Information and Posts.
  • Here you can choose WHO can see WHAT on your profile.  For example, the the right of Photo Albums, click on Edit Settings.
  • You’ll see your different albums.  For each one, click on the little drop-down box with the arrow and select Customize.
  • In the Hide This From box, type the name of the list you’d like to hide it from, and click Save Setting.
  • You can do this for different categories of things, such as your bio, your posts, other peoples’ posts on your wall, etc. etc.  Have fun!  Keep in mind that nothing on the internet is ever truly private (read: you will still need to exercise discretion), just more difficult to find.  Now people you are acquainted with but barely know will not see ALL of your business by default, but will be able to get in touch with you if they need to.

Linking

or How to Display Signs of Life Without Ever REALLY Keeping Up Your Facebook

  • Sign up for an account at ping.fm.
  • Link all of the sites where you do post regularly (Flickr, your blog, Twitter, whatever) to ping.fm.
  • Set it so that when you update those sites, they automatically update Facebook.
  • Never log into Facebook again except to respond promptly to event invitations, answer direct messages, and kill some time at the office (in which case, you’ll be delighted to see everybody’s overly zealous updates).

You’re welcome.

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3 thoughts on “public service announcement.

  1. Haha, I hear those complaints all the time, too. I have it set to see no game updates, and any time I think, “Why do I care that so-and-so just fed her kid?” I remember, “oh yeah, HIDE!” It’s quite easy to customize what’s on one’s page…I hope you have enlightened some people.

    Love the reminder to respond to event invites. I have found that a lot of people just do not want to rsvp there. And I would understand that if they didn’t respond to evites, but really, there isn’t much difference.

  2. The thing I still can’t figure out how to do/if it can be done is to hide who I see online. I think I just have to hide my online status from them, but I wish there was a way to make it less of a two-way street.

  3. Scarlet: Yeah, sometimes it feels like beating a dead horse with the RSVP thing, but the rudeness is really astonishing. Rock shows and huge events like street festivals are one thing…it’s not going to change anything for the event planners whether you RSVP or not. Small parties where your hosts have limited space or are providing food are another thing, because if you RSVP no, they might like to invite someone else. So you not RSVP-ing is rude, disruptive, and basically says “I’m keeping my options open in case something cooler comes up at the last minute.” These people should just unfriend you if they’re not going to respond to invites, because clearly they’re not your real friends.

    James: I think I’m confused about what you need to know here. My first tip, Hiding, tells you how to hide who you see online. The second tip, Lists, tells you how to hide status updates from a list of people. But clarify for me if I don’t get it.

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