As much as we all like to say we’re definitely definitely going to delete Facebook this time, somehow we are all still on it – still liking those baby photos and wedding announcements, still posting that one picture from Saturday night that we look great in even though everyone else looks terrible.
But are you getting the most out of Facebook? Could you be posting more things to fewer people and having a nicer time as a result? We went digging around in the annals of the social network to bring you these ten tips that Zuck would never tell you about (because he just won’t reply to your fanmail, dammit).
1. Hide all your updates from that one judgy aunt
If you aren’t already intimately acquainted with Facebook’s privacy settings, you’re a fool. They are a wonder and a joy born of thousands of people’s job-losing internet-shaming woes, and you should be taking full advantage of them all. It’s the best way to stop that one annoying relative who misunderstands all your cool Internet Speak and posts stickers of robots falling over on every status update.
Just hit the button next to ‘Post’ (it shows your current settings, so on my profile it says ‘Friends’ but yours might say ‘Public’ or ‘Custom’) on your status update and go to Custom. Here you can specify exactly who you do and don’t want to see what you’re saying. To save time, you can also create lists of annoying people to hide things from on the regular.
2. Look at your profile as if you’re the aunt you’ve hidden all your photos from
Now walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and have a look at your profile as if you are your judgy aunt, your BFF or a passing stranger. Go to your profile page and tap the button with three dots on it on your cover photo, then choose ‘View As’. It’ll default to how your profile looks to anyone you’re not friends with, but you can then type in the name of any of your friends to see how those custom statuses are working out.
3. Clear out your apps
Click ‘Apps’ in the menu on the left-hand side of your Facebook homepage and check out what Facebook apps you have installed. I guarantee there’ll be at least two that you have no memory of ever interacting with, and a host of other apps you no longer use but still have access to your profile and data. Have a clear out. For the full list of apps you have connected to your account, you’ll need to hit ‘App Settings’.
4. Export your friends’ birthdays
This isn’t exactly a hidden feature given that it is quite clearly stated on Facebook, but have you taken the three seconds it requires to export your friends’ birthdays to your iCal/Google Calendar or Outlook? Unfortunately you can’t customise the export to only include the friends you are actually friends with, but once you’ve connected the two calendars they will stay up to date when you add new friends – or if any of your pals change their birthdays, I guess? Could happen.
5. Get cosy with browser plug-ins
There’s a whole ecosystem of plug-ins designed to make your Facebook experience more pleasurable. Social Fixer is the Splinter to your Leonardo (or whichever Turtle you identify with most closely) and it lets you completely customise your account – Lifehacker has done an exhaustive guide here. I particularly like how granular you can get about what stories you see in your newsfeed and what you mute. Goodbye spoilers, farewell X Factor chat, they think seeing football stories in your newsfeed is over and it is now.
If you’re a particularly secretive type, install Facebook Unseen which lets you read Facebook messages without your correspondent ever knowing you’ve read them. Sneaky. Whatever browser you use, it’s worth having a dig through the plug-in and apps stores to see what else is on offer.
6. Use the Graph Search to your advantage
Facebook’s search function has been vastly underappreciated in its lifetime. Just accept the fact that you are a low-level stalker and get pretty specific about things. For example, if I was going to start a new job at Future Publishing, I would use this search to know who to avoid getting stuck talking to at the pub on Fridays.
Other uses include "people who like The LAD Bible" so you know who to unfriend, "friends of friends who live in London and like Bob’s Burgers" so you can casually engineer a group hang – which all sounds quite creepy in theory, but in practice I’m sure it will only be a bit creepy at first and then fine after that, just like most of your social interactions.
7. Use secret groups to plot world domination
Facebook Groups are another underappreciated element of the ‘book. Zuck and co actually use them internally for all their work-sharing so you can bet they’ve put a fair amount of effort into making them as useful as possible. Secret groups are the best. You can start a club, plan a holiday or discuss Taylor Swift ad nauseum without anyone but your squad being any the wiser. Lesser-known features in both public and secret groups include running polls and sharing files from your computer or Dropbox.
8. Save Interesting Internet Content to read later
Hey, you’re a busy person. There are deals to be done and drinks to be drunk and important opinions to be shared with strangers you disagree with. You just signed in quickly to hate-check someone annoying’s profile and check if that person you’ve been chirpsing at work has added any new photos. You simply cannot be expected to keep up with every relevant thinkpiece shared by your friends and various news organisations on Facebook. We know. Time, we realise, is money.
Facebook realised it too when it added the option for you to save links, events, videos, places, books, music and pretty much anything else you may have stumbled across on the big blue network for catching up with later. Anything save-able will have a save option in its dropdown options – you can find them all in Saved Items in your favourites bar on the left.
9. Download all your data
One day, the internet might go down. And how will you recall all the things that have ever happened in your life if you can’t access Facebook? Luckily, you can download all your Facebook data and store it (securely, we’d advise) offline. Just go to Settings, then Download A Copy Of Your Facebook Data and follow the instructions.
If you type ::putnam:: in a Facebook message, you get a little emoticon of some guy who once worked at Facebook. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Enjoy!