Jun 12

Come out, come out, wherever you are (or how to unhide friends in Facebook)

We live in the middle of a complicated one way system. When people visit, they need one set of directions to get to our house and another to leave again. It helps traffic and makes things safer. The inconvenience is worth it. Facebook is much the same. You can hide someone easily and somewhat intuitively. To unhide them requires a completely different procedure. (The analogy stops here. It’s just bad design; it doesn’t help traffic or make things safer.)

After helpfully showing my husband how to hide friends on Facebook, demonstrating on someone whose updates I enjoy reading, I went to unhide her. That’s where the trouble began. Because of the constant changes to the user interface, the vast majority of instructions were out of date. These instructions here might be correct for today only. I don’t know. I apologise if you’ve come and they’re wrong. There’s not much I can do about it though, so you’ll just have to cope.

So. On 30 June 2012 at 12.30pm GMT+1, here is how to unhide friends and other hidden things.

1 – Go to your news feed. This is the page you get when you’re logged in and at www.facebook.com.

2- On the left hand side, scroll over “News feed”. A little pencil will appear. Click it, then click on “Edit settings”.

3- A box will appear in the middle of the page listing the friends, apps and pages you’ve hidden. To unhide any of them, click on the x to the right of the name.

And that’s it. You’re done. It’s easy if you know how!



Jun 12

No, I don’t care what you had for lunch (or how to hide friends’ statuses in Facebook)

There’s no reason to have to read your friends’ statuses on Facebook. Hide them, hide them away. They won’t know, they’ll still be your friend (perhaps in copyrighted name only) and you’ll be spared, well.. you know what you’ll be spared. It’s hard to exaggerate stupid statuses, it’s simply not possible to be inane enough.

I have shown this to a couple of people, so thought I’d write it down.

1- Scroll over a status from the offender. Look for the downward arrow in the right hand corner of the status.

2- Click on that arrow, then click on “Unsubscribe from..” and poof! They’re gone from your timeline.

There are a few choices. Who know wtf “Most updates” and “Only important” mean. I suppose “Most updates” means you’ll get a random assortment of most updates and “Only important” is a random assortment of fewer updates. Facebook is a bastard when it comes to showing you things – you can never be sure you’re seeing everything. Eg from “What Facebook knows” on Technology Review, writing about a scientist with the Data Science Team at Facebook:

So he messed with how Facebook operated for a quarter of a billion users. Over a seven-week period, the 76 million links that those users shared with each other were logged. Then, on 219 million randomly chosen occasions, Facebook prevented someone from seeing a link shared by a friend. Hiding links this way created a control group so that Bakshy could assess how often people end up promoting the same links because they have similar information sources and interests.

(Link is via @pyker on twitter.)

If you hide someone in error or if they calm down a bit and get more of a real life, I’ve written about out how to unhide friends on Facebook too.