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Making Facebook a warmer, smaller space

Learning to control what Facebook shows, hides and shares can make the online service a more personable place.
BY TALI ARBEL Published: January 1, 2013
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Facebook alerts me when somebody else has attached my name to a post or picture, and I need to approve it before others can see it. The settings for this are found under the same “timeline and tagging” page. Turn on reviews for posts you've been tagged in.

Friends of ‘friends'?

My news feed — the stream of friends' links, photos and life comments — was too cluttered with information about people I didn't know anymore. Defriending people seems rude and aggressive to me (although it may be a good idea down the road as decades of friends pile up).

Without severely paring down your friend list, here's how to get Facebook to show you only what you want to see:

Determine who shows up more on your news feed. When you're on your timeline page, click on “friends” at the top, near your profile picture, to see a list of all of your friends. Each person has a “friends” button next to his or her picture. To see more of that person's posts, choose “close friends.” To see less, click “acquaintances.” Friends won't know that you've sorted them this way. You can also do this by hovering over the name of the person posting on your timeline. A box will pop up with the person's profile picture and the same “friends” button.

To tweak what kind of updates you get from each friend, click “settings” under the same “friends” button.

If specific posts in your news feed annoy you, you can hide them. Hover over the top right corner of the post, click on the box that pops up, and choose “hide ...” That will remove the post from your news feed, although you will still get future updates from that person.

You can also cut off all updates from a friend. After hiding a specific post in your timeline by that person, click “change what updates you get from ...” Under the drop-down menu that comes up, click “unsubscribe.” You can also ignore a person's Facebook activity by unchecking “show in news feed,” under the same menu that lets you sort friends into “close friends” and “acquaintances.”

Smaller circles

One of the great benefits of Facebook is that it helps you keep in touch with a handful of people who have a shared interest. Hundreds of Facebook friends don't need to see the intimate interactions I have with a few closer friends. So I created private spheres for smaller circles — smaller than the lists Facebook automatically generates based on your school information, hometown and employer.

To set up a group, go to your news feed by clicking on “home” up top. Then click “create group,” which is on the left of the page, in the “groups” section. I typed in the three friends to add and chose to make the group “secret,” which means only members of the group can see that it even exists.