Tech Tips first reviewed Facebook back in 2009. At that time there were “only” 200 million Facebook users and was pretty straight forward in terms of a social media tool. Fast forward two years and we find that Facebook has grown to 700 million users worldwide, is a major Internet player about to go IPO, host to a Presidential Town Hall Meeting and an instigating factor in the Spring Uprisings in Tunisia and the Middle East. Its impact on the world stage cannot be denied. It has saved lives of those who posted medical emergencies, alerted to potential suicides, rallied around animal causes, charitable issues. And yes, there’s even been the criminal posting his stand-off with a SWAT Team as it unfolds.
In fact, it has become so ubiquitous that you cannot read any magazine, visit any web site or watch any commercial without seeing the Facebook logo in some form. That’s a long, long way from the little web site initially conceived in a college dorm room for geeky guys to rate their female classmates.
Most Recent/Top News
So you think you’re hot stuff because you have 4,396 “friends”. Wow, your news is reaching a lot of people. Not. Facebook doesn’t necessarily serve up everything you post to everyone on your friends list. In the top right hand corner of your News Feed you’ll see Top News/Most Recent. The default is Top News.
Using its own blend of secret sauce, Facebook serves up what it determines is most noteworthy for you to view - which friends are indeed the most engaged with you and Facebook in general. If they post quite often, “like” things and share, chances are you’ll be seeing them in your feed. If you want to be seen, interact and engage with your Facebook community. We’ll uncover more about this secret sauce in the next Tech Tip.
If you’d like to see everything that is being posted by your friends, then click the Most Recent tab. To have some control over what appears, click the drop down tab there and you’ll be able to select from Status Updates, Pages, Photos, Links and more. The Edit Options link will let you choose who you’d like (or not like) to see posts from.
Another way to pare down what you see is to organize your friends into Lists which is one of the options on that drop down menu. Start by going to http://www.facebook.com/friends. Click create a List and add the friends you want to group. If you then go to Edit My Profile and click on Featured People. Under Featured Friends you can now add the group or list you just created. Save your changes and return to your profile. You’ll see your Lists on the left hand nav bar for easy access.
In addition to tagging people in photos, you can tag your friends or pages that you follow in your status updates. The great thing about this is that your status post will then appear on the Wall of that person or page. It used to require first using the @ sign, as in Twitter, to tag someone else. Facebook will now intuitively offer suggestions for you to choose from. If that doesn’t happen, you can still access the list by using the @ symbol. Once you’ve made your choice the name will be highlighted and hyperlinked to their Facebook profile or page. If you don’t want to show the person’s full name, you can always delete the last name and the hyperlink will remain.
One new controversial Facebook tool is facial recognition in photos. This simplifies the somewhat tedious tagging process that enables you to connect a face in a photo with an actual Facebook friend. Again, Facebook provides suggestions for individuals in photos for you to choose from.
Some privacy advocates have concerns that this feature is enabled by default. here’s how you disable it:
1. Go to your privacy settings.
2. Click “Customize settings.”
3. Scroll down to “Things others share.”
4. Find “Suggest photos of me to friends.
5. Edit accordingly.
You do have the option of untagging photos you've been tagged in by going to the photo and then click your name. There is no option to prevent friends from tagging you in photos, but you can prevent others from seeing the photos via your tagged name by adjusting your privacy settings.
Banner Me Up
You’ll notice a row of 5 images at the top of your profile. They are 97x68 thumbnails of pictures that you’ve been tagged in. If there is an image that you don’t want displayed, simply hover over it until you see an ‘x” in the top right hand corner. Click the “x” and the image is hidden but not deleted. This feature allows you to control your “banner”, so to speak. You can create your own using Photoshop, Picnik or some other image editing software. You start with a 485 x 68 banner and divide it into five 97x68 images. You will then tag yourself in each image but the key to remember is that the last image tagged will show on the left hand side. There are apps out there to help you create something fun or representative of you such as Profile Banner or Banner Maker.
Much like Yelp, Gowalla and Foursquare, Facebook Places lets you “check-in” to locations using a smartphone. You can tag yourself or other friends as well. We haven’t heard much about Facebook Places yet but stay tuned.
Facebook is currently testing a new feature called the “Happening Now” feed on a very small percentage of Facebook users. It allows you to see what your friends are commenting on and “liking” in real time. Facebook has a habit of rolling out new features with no warning, so you never know what you might see when you log in. Rumor has it that Happening Now is going to replace the Most Recent tab we discussed earlier. Some changes aren’t always well accepted but let’s face it, it’s free and Mark Zuckerberg can do whatever he wants.
It’s a little known fact but Facebook does offer secure browsing (https) as an opt-in feature. When you enable this, all of your activity on Facebook becomes encrypted, making it harder for anyone else to access your information without your permission. (Not yet an option for mobile) The only possible downside is that this feature MAY impede your ability to access iframe content on Facebook pages. Turn on secure browsing by going to your Account Settings page.Click the "Change" link next to Account Security, check the box under "Secure Browsing (https)" and then click the "Save" button.
No matter what your privacy settings, as recent news events have demonstrated, what’s posted on Facebook doesn’t stay on Facebook. Exercise some caution and good judgement. If you have second thoughts and want to cancel a post, or if you “drunk posted”, you can delete it by hovering over your comment and clicking the “x” in the top right hand corner. The movie was called “Social Network” for a reason, it allows you to share just about anything and everything within your community. It’s your responsibility to oversee what limits you want to place on that sharing of information. If you don’t want Facebook to share your phone number or home address, then don’t give it to them. There’s no requirement for such personal data to have a Facebook profile. Do yourself a favor and periodically review your privacy settings to make sure they are in alignment with your comfort zone for sharing.
The Job You Save May Be Your Own
Security and Privacy take on a whole new meaning when you learn, as reported by Forbes, that in June 2011 the Federal Trade Commission gave its stamp of approval to a background check company that screens job applicants based on their Internet photos and posts.The FTC determined that Social Intelligence Corp. was indeed Fair Credit Reporting Act compliant.This means a search of what you’ve said or posted on Facebook/Twitter/Flickr/blogs etc., may become a standard part of job application background checks.
If that doesn’t make you reconsider posting those f-bombs, bong pictures and semi-nude images, I don’t know what will.
You’ve Got A Friend and a Friend and a Friend...
Let’s say you’ve maxed out at the 5,000 friends that Facebook allows you to have. Do you really know that many people? There are instances of Facebook cutting you off even before you hit the magic number. Once you’re done, you’re done. No amount of deleting “friends” will free up space for new people. So choose wisely when accepting that next friend invitation.
If you’re really using Facebook to promote yourself or your business then you should consider setting up a Facebook page where you can have an unlimited number of fans.
We’ll look at fan pages in the next Tech Tip. And let us know in the Comments if you’ve uncovered other Facebook tips and tricks.
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