Facebook may be the de facto social network of, frankly, almost everyone, but that doesn't mean you have to use Facebook exactly the way its creators, or your Farmville-addicted friends, want you to. Here are 10 tweaks to make Facebook better.
Image by Spencer E Holtaway.
10. Stop Your Friends from Revealing Your Location
Facebook's new Places feature? Yeah, it's a lot like Foursquare, Gowalla, and other I'm-here-right-now apps. The big difference is that your Facebook friends can, by default, check you in somewhere without your knowledge. To prevent letting everyone else publish your social calendar, you can disable Facebook Places, or just disable your friends' ability to geo-tag you. (Places hasn't yet rolled out in Australia, but it's worth remembering for when it does.)
9. Access Facebook Chat Through Your Preferred Client
Feel free to set that little box in the lower-right hand corner of the Facebook page, the chat box, to "Go Offline". If you really want to have even more up-to-the-second chats with your Facebook contacts, you can do so through your own favourite client: Pidgin, Adium, iChat, Trillian, Digsby, whatever you'd like. Many clients have set up Facebook log-in on their own, but if not, you can do so with some simple XMPP configuration.
8. Back Up Your Account With SocialSafe
There's a whole lot of data, and photos, in your Facebook account, and getting them all out is no small feat. SocialSafe, which costs just $US3, lets you save all your photos, friends, photo albums, and even friends' photos that you're tagged in, along with your status updates. It doesn't grab everything in and around your account, but does get enough to liberate you from feeling chained to the service. (Free Tools To Back Up Your Online Accounts)
7. Have A Plan For Your Account After Death
It could be more than a little awkward for friends, distant relatives, and others to leave you messages on your Facebook account, then find out you passed away. Even more awkward for those around you when people go digging through your account, or when your account can't be deactivated. All pause for thought, and a motivator to set up a post-mortem plan for Facebook. There are services that offer professional account-after-death services, like Entrustet and Legacy Locker, but really, just thinking through a system where somebody you trust has the keys to your account and instructions on what you want done with it. Officially, Facebook offers a "memorialized" account for relatives that can prove their loved one is deceased, but won't hand over the keys to anyone on their own part.
6. Prevent Sites From Auto-Customising Content With Your Facebook Login
You can turn off Facebook's "Instant Personalization" service in your settings, but the reality of your Facebook login status following around the web, and occasionally allowing less scrupulous sites to glom on, is still there. Shut down access to your Facebook credentials from anyone except Facebook using Adblock Plus and custom filters.
5. Filter And Compress Your Activity Alerts
If you let Facebook dictate how it emails you about status updates, replies, "Likes" and other changes, it will overwhelm you. If you leave it to yourself to check, you can just as easily overwhelm your willpower to avoid distraction. Compress all your Facebook notifications into one or two emails per day with NutshellMail, a social media aggregator that we recommended for filtering and managing your online social life.
4. Find Out When Anyone Else Logs Into Your Account
Maybe you left yourself signed in at a friend's house. Perhaps you found out too late that you should have given your old mobile phone a better wiping clean. However it is that you're concerned about other people getting access to your account, you can wipe the slate clean and pin it down from your Facebook settings. As the Trouble Fixers blog explains, there are settings to get email or SMS notices whenever your account is accessed from a "new" device, be it a browser, phone or other gizmo, once you wipe the slate clean and register your computers and phones as authorised. (Original post)
3. Get Back The Basic Privacy You Signed Up For
If you'd wanted everything you posted to be public, you'd use Twitter. If you wanted all your co-workers to see it, you'd send it over email. You signed up for Facebook to give a select group of friends access to the more private side of your life and thoughts, and you can get back to that kind of small-circle feeling. We've previously posted guides to Facebook's simpler privacy controls, as well as getting back to what you first signed up for. Even with Facebook's latest round of comprehension improvements, it's still worth looking at what you might not know you're sharing.
2. "Quit" Facebook While Still Staying in Touch
Facebook can be more trouble than it's worth, especially for those who have anything approaching privacy concerns. Still, it's becoming the world's phonebook replacement, and some people still want to get messages and sign in for events when necessary. So go ahead and quit Facebook without actually quitting Facebook, by wiping out one account and building another with very limited access to prying eyes.
1. Strip Out Annoying Facebook "Games", Quizzes, and Other Cruft
Sure, you can click on every single one of your friends' indulgences to hide them, but there will always be another questionnaire, turn-based addiction machine, or other viral thing right around the corner. Wipe them all clean from your account with F.B. Purity (technically "Fluff Busting Purity"), a user script that installs on nearly every major browser and cleans away all those status updates you never want to see again. (Original post)
What apps, filters, browser tools or settings changes have made Facebook a nicer place to escape work for you? Share your favourite fix-ups in the comments.