Friday Four: Four Ways to Customize Facebook and Avoid Open Graph Overload

Posted by · January 20, 2012 11:41 am

After Wednesday’s announcement that over 60 new applications are being added to Facebook’s Open Graph, Facebook users are probably wondering what those new apps–and all the actions that people will take while using them–will do to their Facebook News Feed.  If your Facebook News Feed is anything like mine, it’s already cluttered with useless information from people who you don’t keep in touch with regularly; and the addition of so many new applications will surely only add to the mess.

Sure, companies like Fab.com and Ticketmaster are doing innovative things with their Open Graph apps,  (Fab.com will be offering monthly, $10 credits to anyone who opts in to using their application and Ticketmaster is linking up with Open Graph music apps like Spotify to automatically detect when artists you listen to are playing a concert in your town.) but with Facebook adding new apps to the Open Graph library on a rolling basis, it’s clear that all of our Facebook News Feeds are about to become a lot more noisy–unless we take matters into our own hands.

After using some of the Open Graph apps that were released in September as well as Facebook Timeline for a few months, I’ve realized that there are a lot of ways to customize your Facebook News Feed and help yourself–and your Facebook friends–avoid Open Graph overload.  The problem is that Facebook users are often too lazy to do it.  Here are four quick and easy ways to make Facebook work for you:

1. Sort News Feed, Unsubscribe Altogether

Of course, the easiest way to remove a person from your Facebook feed is to unfriend them altogether.  In doing that, however, you run the risk that they will figure out that they fell from your Facebook graces and be offended.  With the unsubscribe option, you remain friends with someone but stop being notified of some or all of their updates. (This means you will have to navigate to that person’s profile in order to see their updates.)  To unsubscribe from someone’s updates, you can either go to their profile and click on the “Subscribed” button in the upper right hand corner of the page or hover over one of their status updates in your News Feed and click on the Sort arrow (e.g.- the down arrow) in the right corner of the status update.  Clicking the “Subscribed” button on the person’s profile will give you a variety of unsubscribe options from unsubscribing to all of that person’s updates to unsubscribing from just their music and video updates or just their photos.  Clicking the Sort arrow on a status update in your News Feed gives more limited unsubscribe options, but does remove that person from your News Feed immediately.

2. Leave the Conversation

For me, one of the most annoying things about Facebook is the private messaging system. At least once a week, I receive an onslaught of inbox messages that started when someone sent a message to their entire list of Facebook friends and everyone else replied to by hitting the REPLY ALL button.  Sadly, it took me years of getting spammed by some of the people I love the most before I realized that all I needed to do was opt to leave the conversation.  To  leave a Facebook conversation, simply click on the “Actions” button in the top right corner of a message and select to, you guessed it, LEAVE CONVERSATION.  Viola! You won’t receive another message about that particular topic.

3. Customize Your Updates

It’s important to remember that status updates aren’t just a one way street. Not only do you want to make sure you’re not seeing stupid status updates from your Facebook friends, but you want to make sure that you aren’t spamming your Facebook friends with your own useless updates.  For quite some time, Facebook has allowed you to customize who you share things with. When you start to make a status update, you will see a button to the left of the “Post” button that probably says “Public” right now.  If you click that button, you will see a drop down menu that allows you to choose whether you want to share a Facebook update with the Public (this means that when one of your friends comments on your status, it will show up in THEIR friends News Feed and Ticker), with just your Friends, with a group you belong to or with a custom list that can include just one other person.

4. Be Selective About App Access

Unlike some of the privacy settings for the first wave of Open Graph apps, Facebook seems to have improved privacy settings for this second wave of applications.  Now, when you select to allow an app access to your Facebook profile, you can also select who sees the actions you take while using that app.  For example, if you want to read articles via the USA Today + Me Open Graph application but you don’t want to share those updates with any of your Facebook friends, just elect to share updates with “Only me” and no one will ever see what you’re reading.

While it does take some time and effort, customizing your Facebook News Feed and avoiding Facebook Open Graph overload is possible.  And for all you frequent Facebook status updaters out there, just remember the golden Facebook rule: Share unto others as you would have them share unto you.