Facebook: can't live with it, can't live without it. Between spam, privacy issues and garbage in our news feed, Facebook can get pretty annoying, and other networks like Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn can be just as bad. As long as you're wasting all your time on social sites, why not fix them up so they work like you want them to? Here are 10 ways to do just that.
10. Dig Yourself Out From Under Your Hoard Of Notifications
Staying up to date on what your friends are doing is great...until your networks of choice start bombarding you with notifications. "Johnny commented on your status! Stacy tagged you in a photo! Billy bit you and now you're a vampire!" The best way to deal with this is to edit your notification settings directly, which you can easily do in Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. You can also turn your Facebook notifications into a daily digest, prune your phone's notifications so they don't bug you, and even make a smarter notification system for more fine-grained customisation. Of course, you could just turn them off completely, too — there's nothing wrong with that.
9. Stop Spam In Its Tracks
The other kind of spam you get on social networks — besides the notification spam — is the spam caused by malicious links and other fake stories. The easiest way to avoid them? Don't click on anything that says any variation of "You won't believe this!" or "Win a free iPad!" or anything vaguely pornographic (and spread the message to your friends while you're at it). If you're following (or being followed by) any spam accounts on Twitter, you can also use a tool like Nest Unclutterer to clean them up.
8. Clean Up All Those Unnecessary Apps
Your social networks aren't the only ones scrambling to grab your data and attention — the third-party apps connected to them are, too. Heck, Facebook even tricks you into ignoring app permissions. The best way to clean up those app permissions (and delete the apps you don't need) is to use a service like MyPermissions, which will lead you to the necessary settings for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Dropbox, Instagram and more. It'll even remind you once a month to check your permissions and clean them up, which is pretty awesome in our book.
7. Regularly Unfriend People For A Cleaner Feed
Having a ton of Facebook friends isn't necessarily a good thing. Not only can it create a lot of clutter, but it's even a characteristic of unhappy people. For a cleaner social feed, regularly unfriend and unfollow people to keep things trim. For the really bad offenders (like your horrible ex), go a step further and block them completely. Only follow people that you're actually friends with or are otherwise useful, and you'll be much better off — though we won't blame you if you want to track who unfriends you, too.
6. Divide Your Friends Into Lists
For those that you don't want to unfriend, keep them around but divide them into lists. Not only will it keep certain people from seeing all your info, but it makes your feeds smaller and more organized. You can do it on Facebook, Twitter, and on Google+, and even use other services like Facebook's Smart Lists or Formulists for Twitter to automate the process. If you want a good list to start off with, you can always follow us and our writers on Facebook and Twitter with one click.
5. Improve Your Experience With Apps And Extensions
The default experience on Facebook and Twitter isn't made for users, it's made for the companies — so why not use something better for you? Twitter clients are always better than the default site, and we've got favorites for Windows, OS X, Android, and the iPhone to try out. You can also make Facebook infinitely better with one simple browser extension, not to mention combine multiple networks with apps like Flipboard.
4. Post To Multiple Networks At Once
Maybe you try to keep a presence on all networks, or maybe you've combined them into a piecemeal social network for yourself. Either way, you probably want to post some of your updates or photos to multiple networks at the same time, and luckily, that's pretty easy to do — most of the time. Posting from one network to another doesn't always work perfectly, but it can make your life a lot easier when using Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. And if you want to include any other networks, IFTTT probably has you covered.
3. Stop Wasting Time And Get More Done
Let's be honest: no matter how much you love them, you probably spend a little too much time on social networking sites like Facebook. You can fix this problem by limiting your visits to time-wasting sites, and using tools like Facebook Nanny to help you get back to work. It's also worth looking into the worthwhile uses of these networks — for example, use LinkedIn to increase your hirability, or use Twitter for instant customer support and up-to-the minute updates on stuff that matters.
2. Avoid Politics, Personal Revelations And Other Obnoxious Updates
Keeping in touch with your friends is awesome... until they decide to start preaching their political beliefs, or start pouring their heart and soul out on their Facebook page. You guys have shared your favorite ways to deal with uncomfortable Facebook discussions before, but it ever gets to be too much, you can go all out and hide those updates altogether. Extensions like Unpolitic.me will replace those political updates with cat pictures, and Social Fixer will let you hide any kind of update you want. Our tips on hiding tech rumours and movie spoilers can also translate to just about anything, too, so you should have your bases covered on every social network.
1. Keep Your Info Truly Private
It's no secret that the biggest social annoyance is actually keeping your data (and your updates) private. Everyone's trying to track you on the web and they're constantly adding new ways to do it. Check out our always up-to-date guide on managing your Facebook privacy to figure out how to stop it, or use a site like AdjustYourPrivacy.com to keep up with your privacy settings on all your networks. Alternatively, you can ditch those privacy-invading sites for something better (or at least tone down your Facebook usage to just personal communication).