As the days get warmer and the flowers start to bloom, you may be thinking of Spring Cleaning, getting fresh air into your home to clear out the winter stuffiness. Take a few minutes to clean out your Facebook too, ridding it of the clutter you don’t need, in order to make your account sparkle again.
Facebook has had many updates in the past year, making it even more important for you to check on your account now. With nearly every change that Facebook makes, your settings are affected. By cleaning up your Facebook, you’ll be able to avoid annoying messages polluting your stream, restrict auto-play videos and make sure that Facebook works best for you!
Facebook recently updated its service so that videos in posts play automatically in your News Feed. This update affects not only Facebook on your computer, but also on your mobile device.
Nothing eats up your monthly data allotment for your cell phone plan faster than streaming video. If your cell phone is on a limited monthly data plan, make sure to change your Facebook settings on your phone so that videos only auto-play when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.
Here’s how to have Facebook videos auto-play on Wi-Fi only:
iPhone/iPad (3G or 4G enabled)
Go to Settings => Facebook => Settings => Auto-play on Wi-Fi only => On
Open the Facebook app => Press the Menu button at the bottom of your phone => Settings => Auto-play videos on Wi-Fi only => Check
If you don’t see these settings on your mobile device, update your Facebook app to the current version.
So far, Facebook has not enabled the option for turning off auto-play completely, but at least you won’t be using up your precious mobile data allowance on auto-play videos.
Spread Joy, Not Sorrow
Check your status updates. Are you complaining more than celebrating? Are you lifting people up with your posts or bringing them down?
Think twice before you post a status update complaining about the weather, your smelly boss, a parking ticket or other minor grievance in life. What you post on Facebook can have a strong effect on the emotions of your friends, according to a recent report from the Public Library of Science (PLOS).
In Detecting Emotional Contagion in Massive Social Networks, the PLOS examined the effect that both positive and negative Facebook posts had on others. The study evaluated posts as being either positive or negative based on the language used and then calculated the resulting effects on the posts of the person’s friends.
The study found a direct correlation between the emotions of Facebook status updates and the emotions of subsequent posts by their friends. Positive posts generated positive posts from their friends. Negative posts resulted in an increase in negative posts from their friends.
Sure, if you have a valid reason to complain in life, posting about your travails may bring you the encouragement and support from your friends that you need. But if you’re just whinging about the weather, realize you may be bringing down the mood of your friends. Try posting about the rainbows more than the rain!
Manage Your News Feed
If your Facebook News Feed is a jumble of game requests, status updates from people you don’t care about (or who whine constantly), and other uninteresting posts, you need to do a bit of Spring Cleaning. The good news is that Facebook will become much more relevant to you with just a few tweaks of your settings.
You can block people, apps and more from your Facebook News Feed so you see more of what you want to see and less of the annoying noise you would rather avoid.
For a full explanation of how to manage your Facebook New Feed see, Fix Your Flooded Facebook Feed (Without Unfriending Anyone).
Review Your Privacy Settings
It’s a good idea to check your privacy settings every so often to make sure they match what you want. Between Facebook updates and your experiences, you may want to change your settings to make your Facebook account more or less private.
To check your privacy settings, click on the lock icon at the top of the page and choose the privacy setting you want to review. Best to look at all of them while you’re in there to make sure they reflect what you want now.
You can adjust settings such as:
- Blocking users, app invites, event invites, and apps
- Managing who can post to your timeline, tag you in photos, and see posts on your timeline
Also see, Twitter News and the Setting You May Want to Change Right Now, for information about adjusting your Twitter privacy settings.
Who Can Contact You?
Are you excited when you get a friend request from a long lost friend? That happened to me earlier this month when I was contacted by someone I used to work with many years ago. I was delighted to get the friend request and accepted immediately. We had no friends in common so I was glad to have my privacy settings set to allow friend requests from the public.
But if you’re getting friend requests from complete strangers that seem a bit, well, creepy, you may want to restrict who can contact you. Facebook lets you restrict who can find you and send you messages via Facebook.
To change these settings go to Facebook Privacy Settings and choose:
- Friends or
- Friends of friends
See, Your Secret “Other” Facebook Messages to find out how to see messages from Facebook friends and strangers. Hint: those messages are not in the same place as your Facebook messages.
Every time you sign into a website or app using your Facebook account, you’re giving them permission to access all sorts of information about you and your friends. If you don’t need these permissions anymore, you should get rid of them. Outdated permissions are often a gateway for hackers to get into your Facebook account.
See, Clean Up Your Permissions! to find an easy way to discover which apps have access to your Facebook and other social media accounts and delete the permissions you no longer need.
Use Facebook Lists
If you want to post to a certain group of friends or want to check in with them to see what they post, use Lists to organize your friends. By using lists you can easily post to friends from your work, school, neighborhood, book club or other set of friends.
See, Manage Your Relationships the Easy Way with Facebook Lists for tips on creating Facebook Lists.
Check Your Profile and Cover Photo Pictures
Is your profile picture up to date? Is your cover photo current? If your profile picture is still you in your Halloween costume from 2010, then it might be time to update it. Choose a new cover photo from your Facebook photo albums or take a new one and upload it to your profile.
See, Your Essential Guide for Social Media Design [Infographic] to find the proper dimensions for your profile and cover photos.
You may have always wanted to do something clever with your cover photo. Now may be the time to change it to something creative, eye-catching and clever.
Check out Hongkiat’s Facebook Timeline Cover: 40 (Really) Creative Examples for ideas and inspiration for your Facebook cover photo.
Also see, Scrub Your Facebook Clean! for other ideas on optimizing your Facebook experience.
Do you try to clean up your Facebook account regularly? What do you do to clean your account? Do you enjoy auto-play videos on Facebook? Let us know in the Comments section below!
*Facebook flower image courtesy of mkh marketing
** Facebook rainbow image courtesy of mkh marketing
*** Halloween costume image courtesy of Don Urban (Editor’s note: as far as I know, this is not Don Urban’s Facebook profile picture)