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7 Essential Facebook Tips

Managing a Facebook account can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be stressful. Do you really want your mom and colleagues at work to see those racy posts from your old college roommate? And wouldn’t it be great if you could post updates for just some of your friends and not all of them? And what about all those apps that you no longer use but which still have access to all your data?

Despite a well-earned reputation for openness and over-sharing, Facebook now has lots of tools that can help you control your account – and we’re not just talking about privacy settings. Here are a few tips and tricks that will help put you back in charge and make your Facebook experience more enjoyable.

How to hide certain posts

If you have a friend whose posts are a little edgy or just downright annoying, then it’s easy to hide those posts in your News Feed. Just mouse over the area to the right of any post from that person and a small arrow will appear. You have the option of hiding a single post or clicking on Unsubscribe to hide all their posts. You also have the option of just unsubscribing from that person's photos, so you only see text and not images.

If you unsubscribe but later want to restore that person, go to your Profile page and click on Friends. If you mouse over the person's name, a small window will open showing your mutual friends. Click on Subscribe to restore their posts to your News Feed.

How to delete Friends

Maybe your friend’s posts are just too obnoxious, or you can’t remember who they are, or their picture looks a little creepy. Whatever the reason, it’s time for them to go.

There are two ways to do this. The first way is to click on that little arrow to the right of any of their posts. Scroll down and click on Unsubscribe. When you unsubscribe, you will get a confirmation message in your News Feed which will also give you the option of unfriending that person. Click on the Unfriend option and that will open a confirmation box. Click on Remove from Friends and they are gone!

The other way to unfriend is to go to your Profile page and click on Friends. This will bring up a complete list of your friends. Mouse over the name of the person that you want to unfriend and then mouse over the Friends box. Scroll down and click on the Unfriend option at the bottom of the list. Again, you will receive a confirmation box. Click on Remove from Friends. This second method of unfriending is useful if you are carrying out a review of all your friends or you just want to thin the ranks a little.

Remember that friends aren’t notified when they are removed from your account. Although they may eventually notice that they no longer get your updates, it's not very likely when everyone on Facebook has 200+ friends!

How to send individual status updates

There may be times when you only want to share an update with certain people. If that’s the case, then restricting access to a post is easy. After you type your status update, click the drop-down arrow next to Friends, which is usually the default setting for who normally gets your posts. Choose Custom, then click on the menu under Make this visible to. Choose Specific People and start typing the names of the people you want to share the post with.

Alternatively, you can use the Hide this from box to specify the people to exclude from the update. Keep in mind that once your update is sent, it might be shared or ‘Liked’ by the friends you have sent it to, in which case it might still get a wider distribution than you planned.

How to remove a tag from a photo

With the common practice of ‘tagging’ – adding an individual’s name to a Facebook picture – it’s becoming harder to just ignore an embarrassing photo posted by someone else and hope people you know don’t see it. The good news is that Facebook has made it very easy to remove tags. Just click on the photo to enlarge it and click Remove Tag, which appears under the photo next to your name. Only the ‘owner’ of a photo and the person tagged in the photo can remove a tag.

Remember, this doesn’t remove the photo, only the tag. If you want to remove the photo, you will have to ask the owner to remove it from his or her page.

How to organize your news feed

You may notice that updates from the same group of friends appear more frequently or that more recent posts are buried further down the page. That’s because Facebook normally puts what they call Highlighted Stories first. A Highlighted Story is one that Facebook thinks you will be most interested in. They are distinguished by a blue highlight in the top left corner of the post.

Facebook takes a number of factors into account in determining what is a Highlighted Story. These include how often you interact with the friend who posted the story, the number of times the story has been commented on or liked, and various other factors. If you want to change the way your News Feed is presented, you can click on Sort at the top of the Feed. The only other available option is to select Recent Stories First.

How to review your Facebook apps

Facebook apps can be responsible for some of the worst privacy abuses on Facebook. They can track your own data and interests, as well as those of your friends. Neither you nor Facebook have any control over what happens to this data.

If you want to review what apps have access to your Facebook account and what data they are allowed to see, click on the arrow next to Home and choose Privacy Settings. Scroll down to Ads, Apps and Websites and click Edit Settings. Click on Edit Settings next to Apps you use and you will see a list of the apps that have access to your account. Click on Edit next to each app and you will see what permissions they have.

A good rule of thumb: If you don’t recognize the app or you can’t remember why you downloaded it, then click on Remove app and it will be deleted from your account. For all others, stick to the required approvals only and remove everything else.

How to restrict who can see your photos

One of the best things about Facebook is the ability to instantly share photos and videos. But sometimes it would be nice to be a little more selective, particularly when it comes to those holiday photos or pictures of the kids. Go to your Profile page and click on Photos. You will see a list of all the albums, and individual photos and videos that you have ever posted. Click on the little arrow or other symbol below the album or photo and you will see the same menu of options that you get when you post an update. (See above.) Choose Custom and you will have the ability to hide or include specific individuals.

Remember, restricting access to a photo or video doesn’t ensure privacy. If you don’t want certain people to see an image, then think very carefully about whether you should post it at all.

Do you have other essential tips for Facebook? Share them with The Online Mom!

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