Friday, October 22, 2010

Beginners' Guide to cleaning up your Facebook account

Many people clean their house, office and everything else as spring comes along. But most of us neglect one thing: Our Facebook account. Well, there's a lot to clean in there. And... it needs a much more regular cleaning, not just during spring.

Here are some things you need to clean up when you are on a cleaning spree on Facebook. They are not in any particular order, though. I'm too lazy to think up a good order to put as a top-5-list or something.

Your 'Likes':
I notice that my friends like to Like a lot of things on Facebook. I have also noticed that there are some stupid services that generate stuff that you can Like. Examples: this one and this one (though there are tons more). Don't worry, you can safely click them without being affected youself. Then you can go about worrying about the pathetic things their admins have created.

This is a really important thing that you should clean up. Many 'random-Like' services may be following you in some way. You should remove stuff that you feel you don't Like anymore. Even Liking something invades peoples' privacy these days...

To see a list of things you Like, go to your Profile by clicking your name anywhere, or by clicking the  Profile link in the top-right. Here, switch to the Info tab and scroll down to the section 'Likes and Interests'. Here, you'll see all the things you enter that you like, and at the very bottom, you can find all the Pages that you like. Now you can just edit the list the top, scroll down and click Show Other Pages. Now mercilessly start clearing away all the junk.

I hope you have Liked Right Now In Tech. Don't remove it. It's NOT junk.

Applications and Games:
You probably come back to Facebook more than once in a day partly because you need to check out what's happening in a realtime game right now, or to play something a second time in a day to get special stuff. Not something special. It's the same with almost everyone. Facebook has become a platform and developers create all those games and apps for it, and even manage to persuade players to come back to them. Zynga particularly. Many of them, like Zynga again (maker of Mafia Wars, Treasure Isle, FarmVille and more) have managed to earn millions in advertisement revenue.

Now that you play so many games, you have allowed them to access parts of your profile too. You have to be careful about them. They can track you, your friends, and/or spam them (and you). You need to clean up the games too and thus take away the permissions from them to access your profile and post those annoying posts on your and your friends' Walls.

To remove games and apps, click Account in the top-right, and go to Privacy Settings. Here, find the following link at the bottom and click it.

Here, in the first section, you will find some of the apps you use. At the bottom of the five recently used ones, you'll find a link that says Remove unwanted or spammy applications. Click it and you'll find the list of all the apps and games you have allowed to connect to your account. You can remove them from here.

Clean up! Clean up!

Your Wall:
There is a lot of trash on your Wall. Believe me. Others post stuff, your apps and games do, your friends games and apps do, and much more. You should spend some time deleting some stuff from here to make yourself look more presentable to your teachers, colleagues, and maybe even someone who's going to interview for your new job!

Nothing to explain here. Just go to your Profile and mouse over each item to see a Remove button appear to its right. Click it and you know what will happen.

Your photo tags:
Oh my God! I cannot stand it when someone tags me in a stupid TagMyPals photo. Well, I'd have no problem, but being a perfectionist is hard work. When someone clicks the link on my profile to see all my photos, they'll end up catching all the colorful photos with me tagged as a cartoon. Well, it said Photos of Antriksh Yadav and what's the point in finding me in a photo in which I don't exist?

Maybe you all want to remove your tags from a really embarrassing photo. The best thing is to remove it immediately, instead of bearing the consequences later.

The best way to clean these up: PREVENT! As soon as you start recieving a barrage of Notifications that your friends have commented on a photo of you, instead of filling up with euphoria, first check the photo out. Probably they are not interested in you. I quietly go in the middle of such a comment party and quietly remove my tag (by finding my name in the huge list of people in the photo and clicking Remove Tag). I'm pretty positive that nobody even notices it.

If you are on a weekly spring cleaning spree and you want to find such photos, just go to your Profile and click Photos of me under your profile photo. Find all the crazy, stupid, whatever photos and remove your tag.

Organize your Friends in Lists:
Well, you probably have a ton of friends if you use Facebook a lot. So, you need to organize them too. You certainly don't want everyone to view the same info about you. So, the best way to keep everything perfect is to organize them in Lists. If you are not familiar with this Facebook feature, well, you don't use it. And you should.

To create Lists, click Friends in the sidebar...

Then click Edit Friends near the top-right. Now, near the same top-right on this new page, there will be a button Create a List. When you click it, a window with all your friends should pop-up. Select the friends you want to put in a List and create the List. Name it appropriately.

Suggestions: You can organize your buddies in Work/School, Family, Old Friends, or by age groups, old school and stuff like that. All my friends are covered in some or the other List. This allows you control your information is a really effective manner. You can set the Lists of friends who can view certain photo albums, posts and videos. You can also appear offline in Chat to certain friends using this too.

Your Friends:
Yes, you read the heading right. I'm talking about cleaning up your friends too. You may have friends that don't use Facebook, or have duplicate accounts, or maybe you've broken up with them. Well, you're not very social if you've done that, are you?

So, periodically, you should be looking through your Friends list too and clean them up. Just follow all the steps to create a List, in the previous section and follow it to the point just before clicking the Create a List button. You have all your friends there. If you are already using the Lists feature (which, by the way, only about 5% of the people on FB use, sadly), you can see the Lists in the sidebar on the left. You can look through particular Lists too, to clean them up.

Well, so that's about it. I recommend that you do all of these every two months or so and experience a much cleaner Facebook, aside from having the warm, fuzzy feeling that you are protected from a lot of privacy invading dangers.

Look in the archive for more Facebook tips and tricks. You'll probably like to see how you can check out how your Profile looks to certain people, how to hide yourself from being found on Facebook or even other search engines or maybe even how to cancel Facebook friend requests.