Nov 12

Do you see what I see? – or – Who sees what on Facebook?

Exactly who sees exactly what on your Facebook pages? It’s easy to check, once you know how and I’ll tell you below, I promise. But first, let me say that even with the best privacy settings, people still might get access to things you’d rather they not see. Mistakes can be made, anything on a screen can be grabbed and presto, you’re known. If something needs to be truly private, don’t put it on Facebook. You’d be wise to not put it on the internet at all. That having been said, Lifehacker claims to keep an Always Up-to-Date Guide to Managing Your Facebook Privacy which is worth reading and checking against your own settings. I have to admit I don’t know how up-t0-date it actually is.

Here’s the way to see your timeline as others do. As always, use at your own risk.

Step 1. Navigate to your timeline by going to Facebook and clicking on your name in the upper left corner.

Step 2. In the upper right hand corner, under your cover photo, click on the weird wheely thing.

Step 3. Choose “View As..” from the dropdown menu.

Step 4. Enter the name of the person you’d like to view your timeline as. It will auto-fill to help you out. You can also click on “public” in the text to view as a random member of the public (ie someone you have not friended on Facebook).

Step 5. You’ll now see how your timeline looks to whoever you’ve chosen or to the public.

Step 6. To get back to viewing your timeline as you, click “Back to Timeline”

And that’s it!


Nov 12

Keep emotional vampires at bay: How to hide your relationship status in Facebook (November 2012)

So you’ve broken up with someone and, rather than deal with questions from your Facebook friends about the sordid details because they’ve just been notified that your status has changed from “In a relationship” to “Single”, you just want to let it slip away quietly, sobbing into your drink with a few real life friends who aren’t such emotional vampires. What to do?

The answer is to hide your relationship status. You can hide it then change it (or not, if you’re into denial), so only you will see the updated status. Here’s how. Please note: these instructions come without warranty, so use at your own risk.

First step, go to Facebook. Once you’re there, go to your profile by clicking on your name on the left hand side of the page.

Once you’re there, take a minute or ten to browse around, remembering all the good times you’ve had and how you’ll be glad to lose the passive aggressive posts you’ve been leaving on each other’s pages. Then when you’re ready – not before, don’t rush it – click on “Update info” just under the photo at the top of your screen on the right hand side.

In the relationship box on the info edit page which you’re now on, click on the “Edit” in the upper right hand corner of the square labelled “Relationships”.

Now change the visibility to “Only me”. Click on the little people icon in the top right hand corner of the edit box that’s appeared. Please note the image below is before you’ve changed it. You want to end up with the tick by “Only me.”

Now click the save button in the lower right corner of the Relationship edit thing. THIS IS IMPORTANT.

At this point, it makes sense to check and see that the changes have taken. You can view your profile as someone else (instructions to follow in a future post) and make sure that your relationship, has, in fact, vanished from view.

There’s one more thing you can do, if you’d like. You can actually change your relationship status. Simply go through all the above again and change it in the drop down panel in that relationship box. You could do it at the same time as changing the visibility to “Only me” but I’m guessing you really don’t want anyone to know about it, so it might lessen the paranoia a bit to do it in two steps, checking that it’s worked by viewing as someone else in between.

And sorry about your breakup. Hope you feel better soon. xx


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.