Here’s a better way to use the Facebook News Feed

I’ve noticed a few things about the way the News Feed works (or doesn’t work):

  • I really like the way the News Feed tries to show me content I might be interested in, rather than every last post. At least, I really like that for Facebook pages.
  • I’d prefer to see every update from my friends, in chronological order.
  • Mixing the two of these together doesn’t really work. There’s too much for a single News Feed.

You can partially solve this in a couple of ways:

  1. “Unlike” all pages, and follow those sites some other way – such as on Twitter, or via an email newsletter. However, your friends’ updates will still be filtered. If you change “Top Stories” to “Most Recent” via the dropdown next to the News Feed link, it seems to keep changing itself back.
  2. Set up lists for different groups of friends. To be honest, this can quickly get messy, as you now have to check lots of lists. It’s a pain.

I’ve come up with another way to do this. It can be quite time consuming if you have a lot of friends, but I think it’s worth a try.

A better way to use the Facebook News Feed?

The basic steps are as follows – more details on each of these is below:

  1. Create a list called “All friends”, and add all your friends to it
  2. Unfollow all your friends. This takes them off your News Feed
  3. Leave all Facebook pages alone – unless you want to unlike any of them. Remove any you don’t like
  4. When adding new friends in future, you’ll need to unfollow them (but stay friends), and then add them to your list

The result is this:

  • Only Facebook pages appear in your News Feed – not your friends. It matters less that you won’t see everything. This feels like the best type of content to be filtered.
  • Friends are a click away, in a list. But you’ll now see all of your friends’ posts, in chronological order.

How to create a list with all your friends

  1. Go to the News Feed, hover over Friends, and click More. Or go here: https://www.facebook.com/bookmarks/lists
  2. Click “Create List”
  3. Give it name, and click Create
  4. In the top-right corner, click Manage List, then Edit List
  5. Change the dropdown in the top-left corner to say “Friends”
  6. Now highlight each of your friends and click Finish. (Unfortunately, I can’t find a way to select all)
  7. To make the list show up in the sidebar, go to https://www.facebook.com/bookmarks/lists and look for your list. Click the little cog icon on the right, and click “Add to favorites”

How to find out who you’re following on Facebook

There’s a neat trick that will help you to find who you’re following, both friends and pages.

  1. Go to the News Feed. Hover over the News Feed link. On the left-hand side, click the little cog icon, and click “Edit Preferences”
  2. Click “Unfollow people to hide their posts”
  3. Click on each person or page to unfollow. Note that it doesn’t remove them from your friends; for pages, it doesn’t unlike the page if you only unfollow

With pages, I found it quite interesting to see how many pages hadn’t posted anything in a while. There’s maybe no harm in keeping them on your list as they aren’t flooding your wall. But then why follow a page that doesn’t post? I cleaned up most pages that I follow if they haven’t posted in a while.

What you’ll now see

  • News Feed: this is where you go to read about what’s going on with your favourite topics, and to find news from all the pages you’re following;
  • All Friends list: this will now show updates from your friends, and it won’t be mixed in with all the pages you like. I believe you’ll also see all updates, with the newest appearing first – however, it’s possible this might not be 100% the case. But it seems to be a better option than having everything in the News Feed.

A couple of caveats

You can’t hide app notifications across all users – you can only remove the friend from your “All friends” list. If notifications is all they post, removing them from the list would be the best option. However, as the updates should now be in chronological order and everything should appear when you’re using “All friends”, you’ll either realise that people aren’t posting as much as you thought – or the annoying notifications will be scrolled off.

Photos seem to be split into lots of separate posts – whereas on the News Feed, they are rolled up. I noticed a few were rolled up in the “All friends” list, but not as many as in the full News Feed.

Why this works for me

Although it’s convenient to have everything in one place, the News Feed has always felt too busy to be useful. I’d really like to keep up with the updates posted by my friends, and I’d also like to have the News Feed algorithm work its magic for the pages I like.

I do want to see everything from my friends – but I’m happy if I miss some posts from the pages I like. I’m not ready to unlike all those pages, as the News Feed does work really well when it comes to curating interesting and enjoyable content. It’s just a filter too far when it comes to my friends.

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