Facebook: can’t live with it, can’t live without it. If you’re despairing at the dross served up by the world’s biggest social network every time you log in, then we’ve got some advice for you — it doesn’t have to be that way, and you can easily tailor Facebook to suit your tastes.
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the algorithms that Facebook uses to decide what to serve up in your News Feed, but the platform also gives you plenty of tools to help you customize what you see, and we’ll guide you through some of the key options here.
Hide unwanted posts
See those three little dots in the top-right corner of every post you get in your News Feed? Click on them and you can hide “posts like this,” which means Facebook will show you less of that type of post in future — whether it’s a memory, or a brand, or a particular person.
The previous action can be used to cut down on the number of updates you hear from someone, but you can also unfollow them — so you won’t see any of their posts — while remaining friends. Head to their profile page, click the Following button, then Unfollow.
See more of your favorite people
It works the other way, too — for those people you absolutely want to hear from every time they post, head to their profile page, click the Following button at the top, then choose See first. This makes sure most of their posts get shown up at the top of your News Feed.
Create your own lists
For the ultimate in a personalized News Feed, click Friend lists from the navigation pane on the left and put together a list of your favorite people via the Create List button. You can then follow the list link (maybe bookmark it) to only see updates from a chosen few.
Hide adverts you don’t like
You don’t have to just accept the adverts that Facebook serves up for you in your News Feed — click the three dots in the top right corner of the News Feed post, then choose Hide advert from the list. Facebook takes note and shows you fewer adverts like that in future.
Tweak your advert preferences
Facebook might think it knows you, but you know better: head to your Facebook advert settings page on the web, click Your interests, and you can correct all the assumptions Facebook’s made about you. It should mean you stop seeing any irrelevant ads come up.
Stay off Facebook
Save yourself the hassle of actually loading up Facebook by heading to the email notifications page inside your Facebook settings and signing up for email updates — you can then stay away from the social network until something actually significant happens.
Stop other people from tagging you
Head to the Timeline and tagging page in your Facebook settings on the web and you can choose to review any tags added to photos or posts before they appear on the News Feed or your profile — very handy if you have friends who are a bit too keen on tagging you.
Make it harder to be found on Facebook
Maybe you don’t want a bunch of old school friends finding you on Facebook? Open up the Privacy settings page on the web, and you can make it harder for other people to find you based on your email address, your phone number, and even via general web searches.
More News Feed tweaks
We’ve covered most of the ways you can tweak your News Feed to make it more palatable, but Facebook has a dedicated settings screen for this, and you can find it by clicking on the arrow on the far right of the top toolbar, and then choosing News Feed Preferences.
Turn off notifications
You can disable Facebook notifications on mobile if you don’t want the app to be such a distraction – choose Settings then Apps & notifications on Android or Settings then Notifications on iOS. Alternatively, just uninstall the app from your mobile altogether.
Stick to Messenger on the web
You might not have realized it, but you can access the Messenger interface separately in your browser by heading to www.messenger.com — jump straight to your private chats, without having to take a detour around the latest News Feed posts along the way.