How to Start Liking Facebook Again: Fixes for the Biggest Complaints




How to Start Liking Facebook Again: Fixes for the Biggest Complaints
The social network doesn’t make it easy, but there are solutions to almost all users’ major issues


Want to get someone really riled up? Just ask about Facebook.

“An email every time someone posts ‘Congrats!’ after I do?!” “If I see that photo of my sister’s ex-boyfriend’s mom’s uncle’s not-very-cute new puppy in my feed one more time, I’m going to...” “Really? Everyone needs to know that I ‘like’ Velveeta cheese?”


When I asked our readers about their Facebook pet peeves—on Facebook, of course—I quickly received over 500 complaints. I’m calling it: We now whine more about the social network than the DMV and customer support lines.



Here’s the difference, though. We, Facebook’s 1.4 billion users, could stop using it at any time. But then how would we ever be able to find out what’s become of our high school gym teacher?

I’m only half joking. In the last 10 years, Facebook has, for better or for worse, become the center of the Internet for many. It’s not just the overload of information that makes the network so frustrating to use. Facebook has made it awfully hard for us to find the tools to make things better.

Turns out, in the time we spend listing reasons we hate Facebook, we can actually fix many of them. I was able to tackle most of the biggest reader issues. (Alas, no, there’s nothing I can do about the fact that your mom, your ex- or your boss are on the service.)


Complaint No. 1: I keep seeing stuff I don’t care about in my news feed… sometimes multiple times.
Facebook tracks what you do on the service (and elsewhere, in other apps and websites). Then it picks and orders posts—and yes, ads—that it thinks you’ll be most interested in. Of course, the robotic decisions are often very wrong.

The good news is that Facebook is actually giving (a little) power to the people! A new feature introduced last week allows you to prioritize posts from the most important people in your life. In the iPhone app, a revamped News Feed preferences panel even suggests people you like the best and lets you make many other tweaks all in one place. On the Web and Android, go to someone’s page, select Following, then See First and you’ll start seeing posts from them above everything else in your feed.



That doesn’t solve the problem of seeing the same thing over and over again. Facebook needs to make it clearer why you see something again (usually because someone commented or liked it) and, more important, offer a way to stop seeing repeats as a rule. You can though ensure you don’t see a particular repeat post again: Tap or click the downward “v” in its upper right corner and select “Hide post.” In the mobile apps, you select “I don’t want to see this.”

That same trick can also help with getting rid of all those posts from Aunt Bertha that you can’t stand. After you hide the post, just select “See less from Bertha [or whomever].” You can also unfollow people by going to their pages. And not to worry: You won’t offend Aunt Bertha if you unfollow her. Unlike when you unfriend, she’ll have no idea you can’t see her stuff.






Complaint No. 2: Is a feed with everything our friends are posting, in chronological order, too much to ask for?
Facebook really doesn’t want you to see the Most Recent feed, which lists everything—every post from the people and pages you follow—in the order it was posted. It’s so adamant about keeping you in its curated Top Stories feed that once you navigate away from it, it will switch you back to it the next day. It seriously stinks.

On the Web, however, there’s a great workaround. A browser plug-in called Social Fixer allows you to set the chronological Most Recent feed as your default. Even better, it lets you filter that feed into other feeds. Now, instead of seeing all the tech news websites I follow in my main feed, I see them under a separate tab. You can also banish all app posts. (Buh bye, Instagram photos I’ve already seen!)


Complaint No. 3: Like, like, like! Why can’t we dislike anything?
You won’t like this: I don’t think Facebook will ever add an official dislike button. Mark Zuckerberg seems to think it would cause more bad than good, and I agree. That said, there are ways to express disapproval, and even dismiss bad posts.

If you want to tell people publicly that you dislike something, you can post a “thumbs down” dislike sticker in a comment. On the Web, you can click the smiley face in the comment field and search for “dislike.” In mobile apps, you have to download the “Likes” sticker pack.

It’s also easy to tell Facebook that you dislike something you’re seeing. Once you click “Hide post” or “I don’t want to see this,” you can tell Facebook if you don’t like it because of the content or the person who posted it. It will start to show you less of that in your feed.



Complaint No. 4: Everything I like or comment on is public! Is there really no privacy setting for this?
No, there really isn’t. Facebook confirms that if you like or comment on a post, anyone who can see that original post will see your activity. And yes, even worse, it pushes that content into your friends’ feeds.

Here’s my best advice on this nagging issue. Whenever you plan to like or comment on something, check who can see the post. If it is public, denoted by the little globe icon, then everyone can see it. (All brand pages are public.) Also, make sure to try Facebook’s Privacy Checkup, to make sure that you’re only sharing posts with the people you want to.



Complaint No. 5: Is this thing a billboard? There are far too many ads, especially ones I’m not interested in.
You’re never going to get rid of all the ads, but you can make them a little more tolerable.

On sponsored news feed posts, click that little “v” and tell Facebook you want to hide all ads from that specific company, that you already own the item or that you want to see fewer ads like it. You can also go to www.aboutads.info/choices on your computer to stop tracking so you don’t see, say, Amazon ads on Facebook after visiting Amazon.

On the Facebook website, you can chase away individual ads on the right rail by clicking the X, or all together with a browser extension like Facebook Ad Block. While you’re at it, use Social Fixer to get rid of that trending box and clean up the rest of the cluttered panel.

Complaint No. 6: Please just stop it already with all the notifications!
Ah yes, the notification whirlpool. You comment on a post—or worse, someone tags you in a post or photo—and you get an email or smartphone notification every single time someone has comments or likes.



Facebook needs to give us a way to turn these notifications off altogether. Meanwhile, you can turn off notifications on specific posts by clicking the inverted “v.” (In the ever-changing Facebook landscape, sometimes you can just select Stop Notifications, directly on the post page.)

You’ll also want to turn off all those annoying game and app nudges by going into Settings and then Notifications, then finding “App requests and activity.” Yes, it is tedious to turn them all off, but boy is it worth it to never get another whimpering “Candy Crush Saga” alert again!

Write to Joanna Stern at joanna.stern@wsj.com

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Newest
OldestReader RecommendedNorman RetzNorman Retz 2 minutes ago
Facebook has its use, but it is primarily a time waster. To wast less time, simply limit the time spent there and don't use the smartphone app.

Warren HurtWarren Hurt 3 minutes ago
It amazing the time I have to learn meaningful things by not having a "rub-it-in-your-Facebook" account. People are not putting out their real lives.  They are caught in a Global game of keeping up with the Jones's that usually very sad.

Linked in is bad enough, the last thing I need to take up my attention is a post about what my dog-sitter had for dinner.


Doug KeklakDoug Keklak 9 minutes ago
Unfollow is literally a godsend.  It's actually one of the few things that kept me from deactivating altogether.

James EwinsJames Ewins 31 minutes ago
WHY would anyone expose their personal lives to a dangerous world?  Yes it's nice to share pictures for those who haven't the skill to send them email, but mostly those who are so insecure in their lives they wish to communicate with no discrimination of content. The problem is lack of forethought of exposure to criminals.

George DelsigpiGeorge Delsigpi 9 minutes ago
@James Ewins ....what?  Sounds like you're still living in 1999 and have no clue what facebook even does.

MICHAEL ENGELMICHAEL ENGEL 1 hour ago
Funny...I'm 71, have been using Facebook for over six years, and encountered none of the problems she claims need fixing--or fixed them myself easily by adjusting some settings.  I'm no tech wizard, but do I have to be told how to hide items on my news feed--does anyone?

John YungtonJohn Yungton 49 minutes ago

@MICHAEL ENGEL  It's like intro to Windows 101 taught and re-taught over the past 20 years, there is no 102, 103... advance classes, everything is for the beginner and seniors, including this article but it helps fill up the rag that is the WSJ.

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How to Start Liking Facebook Again: Fixes for the Biggest Complaints How to Start Liking Facebook Again: Fixes for the Biggest Complaints Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 8:58 PM Rating: 5

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