How To: A Better Facebook Experience.
Note: The tips suggest here can be used in the app and on the website. The steps we show are for the website only.
Over the years the Facebook experience has significantly changed from being a social media thing for American college students in 2004 to close to a billion users worldwide in 2021. According to a recent Pew Research poll 69% of US Adults use Facebook and 36% of Americans say Facebook is their go-to for news. With that said, 59% distrust Facebook when it comes to political and election news. Broken down roughly three-quarters of U.S. adults say it is very (37%) or somewhat (36%) likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints that they find objectionable. Just 25% believe this is not likely the case. Admittedly I'm in the 25%. Why? The answer is simple most people don't really know how to "Facebook" and the stats show 74% of American Facebook users are unaware the social media giant maintains lists of their interests and traits and uses that information to marketing back to them. To make a long story short if you like, share, follow, comment on anything Facebook will assume you will like similar content and will happily serve it up in your newsfeed. While 51% of American users find this disturbing most continue to suffer through it and a small percentage will jump ship. Before you do the latter let's see how we can fix it. Here are a few tips: Facebook is Tailored to Only You
Let's do a quick experiment. You and the person sitting next to you pull out your phones and go to Facebook. Compare newsfeeds. You will quickly discover they look very different. While you both may have the same friends, each one will appear in a different order or not at all. Pages you both like will also follow the same method. This is based on a complex algorithm whose goal is to keep you engaged. While this can be a good thing, at times it can also be a path to mediocrity and missed opportunities.
The Power of "Like"
According to Business Philosopher Jim Rohn, "We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with" in the world of marketing and social media there is much truth to that. But it goes deeper each time you accept or make a friend request, like a comment, comment on a post, or click on anything, you are telling Facebook your interests. This valuable information develops an idea of who you are, what you like and ultimately what you are likely to buy. With this in mind, follow that piece of advice your mom gave you long ago "choose you friends wisely". Like things you don't mind seeing frequently, comment on posts that will produce productive conversations, friend people who "bring" something to the table. Be extremely picky.
No doubt you have created a monster over the many years of using Facebook. It seems each time you log on you have this feeling of dread. Facebook is not the fun social media experience you once had. Much like a yard, that needs to be mowed in order to enjoy it, you need to cut out a few things. The easiest thing is to visit your friends tab and start deleting.
The average Facebook user has 225 "friends", if you have more than that you are just adding people to be adding them. No doubt, when you added people there was a reason; some are relatives, others are from high school, and yes some were potential mates who have long married someone else and forgotten that romantic candlelit dinner you shared in 2010.
When you look at your friend list, 25% of those people are most likely going to be from high
school. Although a percentage were close, a majority of them were not. They didn't talk you then they sure as hell are not talking to you now, so why are you allowing them to clutter your newsfeed with pictures of their kids? Unfriend them. Trust me they will not notice you are gone. Follow this mindset for other people by asking yourself, "Does this person serve a need?" Keep in mind, past coworkers could possibly be helpful if you are looking for employment in the future. And relatives, like your annoying uncle who is always complaining about the government or a political party, you may need his kidney. The best solution is to "unfollow" them. You are still friends but you won't see what they are posting in your newsfeed . "Favorite" the people who you really value. You can also add people to a Friend List and make that a priority.
Rip Pages Out of the Book
According to Facebook you can follow up to 5,000 pages. How someone could do that is beyond comprehension. These pages range from little Susie's lemonade stand to the Whitehouse. There are many aspects to consider when deleting the pages you don't need. Regardless of who you voted for, The Whitehouse is one you should keep. Susie is now married with 3 snotty nose kids of her own, her page should be deleted.
Staying on your friends list go to the "more" drop down menu and find "Following" click on it and you will quickly discover the pages you are following. You will need to click on each one and manually delete it by pressing the "following button". If you have found them to be posting lots of annoying ads on your newsfeed feel free to "Block" them.
These pages will be forever out of your life until you change your mind (this can be found in your profile settings & privacy tab).
If you are unsure if deleting a certain page is for you, visit the page and see when it was updated last. If the last post is older than a year its likely the page is not being used anymore. At this point you can see if a new one was created (business owners often forget to update the moderators before they lose the employee who was maintaining the page. In their haste they will start a new page and have no idea how to merge the old and new one.
Oftentimes different pages will have the same articles. A good example is Redbook and Cosmopolitan. If a company owns more than one news outlet you will quickly discover "crossposting". This trick is often used as a way to make a page appear to have more content than it actually does. It can also be used as a way to test the waters on determining future content. Another trick is "A/B testing", creating the same content but packaging it differently. "A" would be a photo with the link in the comment block while "B" will be a direct link from the website. Both are posted hours apart. While its logical to see how different people react to each post it can be quite annoying for the followers of a page.
Facebook's Stupid Default
After you have favorited things you will quickly discover it's not enough, the people and pages with the most likes, follows, and comments will be at the top of your newsfeed. This explains why your post about grandma's 80th birthday gets a few likes days after the event. One way to see the most recent is looking at the menu to the left of your newsfeed and clicking on "Most Recent". Sadly this does not lock your newsfeed in place.
Better Information, Better Experiences
While initially coined in the 1970's, the concept of "The Daily Me" by MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, has come to the forefront of social media. While there is much benefit to customizing ones online experience there is a downside, the creation of echo chambers. When one "likes and follows' only things they agree with there is a high chance of being exposed to misinformation this is especially true to politics, religion, history, science, and society as a whole. You also miss out on other possibilities. While you may believe you know much about a certain topic when challenged you may quickly learn you are unaware of other factors. Yes it's safe to be in one's bubble but it can have negative consequences. A good rule of thumb: if the information you consume requires you to "hate your neighbor" or "dismiss others voice" it shouldn't be your total source of information. Here are some Facebook Pages that will help you broaden your worldview.
Atlas Obscura Travel, Culture, History National Geographic Culture, Travel, Science, World Politics, Technology, History Wired Magazine Science, World Politics, Technology, Government Policy The Associated Press News
The Center for Public Integrity Journalism News
The Poynter Institute Journalism News
Freedom House Worldwide Freedom of Speech Index
The Nation Magazine Left of Center Politics
National Review Right of Center Politics
Cato Institute Libertarian Think Tank
The Brookings Institution Liberal Think Tank
The Heritage Foundation Conservative Think Tank
Sources: https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-algorithm/ https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/06/01/facts-about-americans-and-facebook/ https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/08/19/most-americans-think-social-media-sites-censor-political-viewpoints/ https://www.businessinsider.com/jim-rohn-youre-the-average-of-the-five-people-you-spend-the-most-time-with-2012-7 https://bakadesuyo.com/2012/07/whats-the-average-number-of-friends-a-faceboo-92869/#:~:text=The%20average%20Facebook%20user%20has,turned%20up%20some%20interesting%20insights. https://www.facebook.com/help/116603848424794 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A/B_testing