FRIENDS OR "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. De-friending 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. You can choose to see only updates on major life events and pictures, for example, while ignoring updates about their comments and likes on other people's posts.
— 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."
Curating your news feed in this manner is burdensome if you have hundreds of connections. But the result is less tabloid magazine, more personal messages and cute pictures from people who are actually your friends.
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.
I created such a group with three friends — one from England, one from France and one from Los Angeles — I had spent several days with in a small town in Colombia while on vacation. The four of us use that to post silly photos of ourselves from the trip and write each other personal updates. That spares everyone else from having to hear about the next time we're going to see each other.
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. I also get notifications from Facebook whenever anyone posts to the group. You can turn those on from the "notifications" page under the wheel icon.