Friday, March 22, 2013

How to Hide Your FaceBook Friends

My last post, Who Hid My FaceBook Friends, discussed ways to see more of your favorite friends in your News Feed. Now, let’s look at a few ways to see less of one.

The obvious though unsubtle step is to unfriend the person, but that involves a lot of social trauma. FaceBook won’t inform them that they’ve been dumped, but if they look for you on their friends list, you’ll be conspicuously absent.

After they discover they’ve been jilted comes the inevitable conversation. You’re amazing, but I’m just not ready to be in a relationship right now. It isn’t you; it’s me. I just need a little space. You know, some private time. We've grown apart. It's like we don't even know each other anymore. Maybe looks are everything.

Since they can no longer reach you directly on FaceBook, some will contact mutual FaceBook friends and ask them to get involved to determine the chances for reconciliation.

(FaceBook isn’t like high school. It is high school.)

There has to be a better way. Some way to stop seeing them without their knowing that you’re not seeing them.

As I mentioned in the previous post, you can mark a person as an acquaintance and they will appear less often in your News Feed.

I also mentioned that you can create and look at Lists instead of the News Feed, and you could just leave this person off the lists. Their posts will still appear on your News Feed, but you won’t be looking at them. Out of sight, out of mind.

You can also hide their posts, but only after the fact. Hovering your mouse over their post will make a drop-down arrow appear at the upper right of the post. Click it and you can check “Hide”. That post will disappear, but you’ll still see future posts. I don’t find this option that useful, but maybe there are instances where it fits.

Maybe 99% of their updates are perfectly normal, but they slip up just this once with, “That Sarah Palin is a freakin’ genius, don’t you think?” or, “Here’s my favorite Justin Bieber song on YouTube”.

Maybe hiding the one post does the trick for you.

The absolute worst thing you can do is to provide negative comments on their posts, because FaceBook assumes that if you comment on someone’s update, you want to see more of them on your News Feed. The infamous FaceBook algorithms, one would assume, don’t try to distinguish between comments like “Brilliant!” and “How did you get your head all the way up there?”

For a brief period, FaceBook offered an Unsubscribe option that would allow you to block all of a person’s posts from your News Feed without unfriending them. That has since been replaced by an option in the “Friends” box.

Hover over the person’s name in any of their posts that appear in your News Feed and a box will pop up containing their profile photo. Click the Friend box in that pop-up and you will see a “Show in News Feed” option. De-select that option and all future posts from that person will be banished from your News Feed.

The latter is an excellent way to stealthily elude nearly all of a person’s posts, as opposed to slapping them in the face by Unfriending them. (Unless, of course, you want to slap them in the face.)

I say “nearly all”, because you can’t completely elude obnoxious people on FaceBook. You can de-select “Show in News Feed”, hide their posts, report them to the Better Business Bureau, file a restraining order, and attach a lock of their hair to a voodoo doll and bind its typing fingers together (yep, tried ‘em all) and they can still rear their pointed little heads from time to time.

Here’s an example.

Sam, Tom and Larry are all friends on FaceBook. Sam went to college at UK and learns through FaceBook that Tom went to IU. Sam suddenly feels intense distaste and aversion toward Tom and takes the nuclear option of unfriending him (a perfectly rational response, IMHO).

Tom’s Hoosier trash talk no longer shows up on Sam’s News Feed until one day Larry, with whom Sam and Tom are still both FaceBook friends, posts an update about the NCAA tournament. Sam sees Larry’s update on his News Feed because, after all, Sam didn’t unfriend Larry.

Then Tom comments on Larry’s update and his comment shows up on Sam’s News Feed, too, even though Sam had unfriended Tom.

“Curses! Foiled again,” as Dick Dastardly used to say.

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