Facebook: Toying with My Emotions

I may be old fashioned, but I like things to work the way they seem to work and prefer ease-of-use. I know. Wait, what? “Work the way they seem to work”? Easy to use? You heard me. And this brings me to the topic: Facebook.

I seem to remember a time when one could post something to Facebook and depending on your privacy settings, it would appear in the timeline of whoever should see it. That’s expected behavior and pretty simple, right? But I’ve recently discovered that this isn’t the case and maybe has been for some time. Much of my content I’ve been posting to Facebook hasn’t been displaying in my friends’ News Feed even though I’ve “allowed” it. It’s probably been happening for a while, but these things are hard to notice. How do you know you’re not seeing what you’re not seeing? Depending on the number of friends you have, the amount of content, and the frequency/regularity that your friends post to Facebook, absence isn’t abnormal. But what’s started happening is I’ve been getting comments from my Facebook friends that they’ve missed me or wondered where I’ve been—and I post daily. But at some point, my stuff just stopped showing up for some of my friends’ News Feeds with no change in settings from me or them. This is something that Facebook made the default without much fanfare or notice.

Which quite simply, sucks.

I don’t want Facebook deciding what I or others see especially without making it clear how it’s all being decided. I want to be in control of my content, what goes out and what comes in. Here’s what they have to say about what shows up in your News Feed:

The news feed algorithm uses several factors to determine top stories, including the number of comments, who posted the story, and what type of post it is (ex: photo, video, status update, etc.).

Pretty vague but if you’re willing to give up control, this explanation might be okay for you. I’ve tried to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt and went on a sort of quest to see if I could override their algorithm that seemed to be magically deciding what I and others see. I think I’ve had some success and I’ll share here what I found in hopes of giving others control over their content. I’ll warn you, it’s a little complicated and time intensive, and after all this, I’m still not sure I completely trust that Facebook is showing me what I want to see.

  1. LISTSFor a while now I’ve organized my friends into lists. It’s time consuming at first, but these are great for grouping your peeps into potential audiences for your content. For instance, I have a list for close friends that see everything, friends who see general life updates (also good for coworkers), and family, since I may not want to offend Grandma (sorry Grandma). Still, without adjusting the next things, you still won’t see everything you might expect to see in your feed.
  2. SORT: Found at the top of your News Feed there’s a subtle item with an arrow called “Sort”. By default this is set for “Top Stories” which means Facebook uses it’s magic to decide what you see. I have changed this to “Most Recent” and I think now I see, basically everything. This will likely drive you crazy so read on for how to further shape your feed to what you want.
  3. HIDE: Now that you’re seeing everything, you will likely want to hide some people altogether or some content posted by some people. By each post in your News Feed, there’s a down arrow with a menu. If you select “Hide…” you’ll get more options to customize your feed based on this person and a link to further organize your News Feed:
  4. You can also adjust who you see and what you see from that person by going to each of your friends’ profiles, then Settings…Then select the types of things you want to see from the list…
  5. TIMELINE & TAGGING: I also suggest you review your privacy settings for your own timeline to be sure you know who’s seeing what when you post or when others tag you in their posts. This is where lists come in handy and is especially nice for you kids out there that may have friends with marginal judgement about what photos they share of you and your antics.

I still haven’t found a way to do batch editing, so as far as I know, these adjustments have to made on a person-by-person basis. Yes, a lot of work up front and  a lot of clicks, assuming you even find this stuff or bother to take the time. Thanks Facebook.

I feel better knowing that I can adjust my settings in Facebook to serve my needs, but I’m still skeptical if I’m seeing everything. Facebook has a habit of just changing things and trusting we’ll just accept whatever they shove down our throats. For me, the choices aren’t great. I like connecting and sharing with others through social networks.

One good alternative is Google+. Although you and your information are good for Google’s business, I think Google+ is much simpler and cleaner, and all your settings are easier to find and understand. I’d move over there in a heartbeat, but so many of my friends are entrenched in Facebook and that makes Google+ a pretty lonely social network. For now.

NOTE: If you’ve made it this far I’d love to hear feedback if you found this useful, already knew all this stuff, are willing to fine-tune your own settings as I have, or ditch Facebook for Google+ altogether. Also, please pass this on to others that may not know that Facebook is commandeering their information by default.