Bye bye selfies and ‘inspiring’ quotes, hello hacker alerts and privacy.
Think you’re a Facebook pro? Think again. Sure, Facey-B might have dominated the past decade of your online activity, but as recent reports have shown, many are in the dark about what FB actually does behind the scenes – and there’s a good chance you’re either not protecting yourself or getting the most out the world’s biggest social network.
So set your ego aside and listen up, it’s lesson time. Facebook’s no longer just that friendly little blue website you post drunken photos to. Squillions of development hours have been put into this thing, filling it with all manner of features you might not be aware of – including this lot.
1. HOW TO CHECK WHAT APPS ARE MONITORING YOUR DATA
With the Cambridge Analytica scandal fresh in our minds, the first thing you probably want to do is check exactly what apps you’ve unwittingly given access to. To do this, head to ‘Settings’ then ‘Apps’ in the left-hand menu. Here’s you’ll see what ones you’ve logged into with Facebook – and the results may surprise.
These connections are easily deleted by tapping the ‘X’ next to them (we recommend starting with the random quizzes), and it’s worth checking your settings in the ‘Apps Others Use’ menu, too, as this is where you can protect your friends from their data being used because of you.
But if you’re properly spooked, edit ‘Apps, Websites and Plug-ins’ and you can turn the entire Platform off, which means your Facebook log-in can no longer be used to activate anything bar Facebook. It’s super-limiting, but hey, maybe that’s what you want…
2. HOW TO FIND OUT WHO’S BEEN STALKING YOU USING STORIES
Yes, Facebook Stories exists – a function on the Facebook app that allows you to upload photos and videos for a 24-hour period, and see which of your friends have viewed them, and which specific bits they’ve watched.
It isn’t the ideal way to see who’s been on your profile and what they’ve been looking at, but it’s better than nothing. And it will almost definitely unearth some long lost “friends” (that guy you worked with, like, six years ago and never spoke to?), who are still interested in what you’re doing every day.
3. HOW TO UNFRIEND SOMEONE WITHOUT LOSING ACCESS TO THEIR ACCOUNT
When unfriending someone on Facebook classes as workplace bullying, we’re all in trouble. You can cut people out without all the drama though. Simply unfollow them instead of unfriending them. This completely stops all of their nonsense from appearing on your wall, while still offering you full Facebook stalking rights to their accounts when the mood takes.
To do this, hit the ‘Following’ button on the pages of your Facebook foes. You’ll see options to unfollow them as well as ‘See First’. But that’s for people who you want right at the top of your newsfeed, not those who make you want to put all your Facebook-connected devices in a tub of acid. Tap the unfollow option, stat.
4. HOW TO GET LOGIN ALERTS IF YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT HACKERS
Facebook account hacking is pretty common: you’ve probably seen someone appear to go a bit loopy in your Facebook tenure, only to find out their account was hacked – it wasn’t them ‘Liking’ links to smutty websites, honest. Sure, there’s no way to make you completely immune to hacking short of nuking your Facebook account, but you can nip it in the bud pretty quickly.
Login Alerts will drop you a notification whenever your Facebook account is accessed from a new device or browser. By going Settings >> Security, you can choose to receive an email, notification or both upon one of these new login attempts. Neat.
5. HOW TO DOWNLOAD YOUR ENTIRE FACEBOOK HISTORY
Find yourself living in constant fear of hackers stealing arty photos of your dinner? You can actually download your entire Facebook history, to savour every last drunken photo, over-sharing post and your 4,387 selfies for all eternity.
Why? Why not? We warn you, though, this could end up being a pretty big download if you’re a real Facebook victim. It includes pictures and other media as well as text-based posts. To back it all up, go to Settings and click to “download a copy of your Facebook data” at the bottom of the page.
6. HOW TO STOP THE ENDLESS SEARCH FOR EMOJI WITH TEXT SHORTCUTS
Where would we be without our trusted friends, the “sexy aubergine” or “jolly poop”? Sometimes words just won’t cut it, but searching for the exact emoji you want can be a pain. The category menus for emoji are far from intuitive, each contains such a mass of symbols that confusion often ensues.
Forget scanning fruitlessly; entering text shortcuts will insert the relevant emoji into your message when it’s sent. For instance, typing :poop: will add the poop emoji. Unfortunately not all emoji get shortcuts, but the most popular ones are included.
Middle Finger [[midfing]]
Not Bad [[notbaad]]
7. HOW TO FIND FACEBOOK’S SECRET MESSAGE INBOX
We all know how to find Facebook’s message inbox – heck, they put little red numbers over it every time you get a message – but did you know there’s a second, secret message inbox? No? Didn’t think so. This is the stomping ground of all the messages you’re sent from people not inside your Facebook friends group.
There are probably far more messages than you’re expecting, you just need to know where to look for it – it’s secret, not signposted after all. To get there, open the Facebook Messenger app and click Settings >> People >> Message Requests >> See Filtered Requests and enjoy a list of four -year-old messages you lucky thing.
8. HOW TO SEE MORE STUFF FROM YOUR FAVOURITE PEOPLE
There’s a point that comes in all of our lives: the day you realise your Facebook feed is full of inspirational quotes posted by people you wouldn’t trust for directions to the nearest newsagent’s. That and sponsored links. When that day arrives, it’s time for a refresh.
One way to give Facebook’s feed algorithms a kick up the arse is to start labelling your Facebook contacts as ‘close friends’ and ‘acquaintances’. All the updates from your close friends will appear on your news feed, diluting the drivel your ‘acquaintances’ post. How? Well, in the ‘Friends’ tab you’ll see a drop-down box next to each of your mates’ entries. In this you can label them with these two all-important tags. Doing so will up the quality of your news feed dramatically.
9. HOW TO STOP FACEBOOK SENDING YOU BIRTHDAY NOTIFICATIONS
Facebook has become the best way to keep track of people’s birthdays. However, it can get a bit much. When 90% of your smartphone alerts are Facebook’s birthday reminders, or Domino’s telling you they’ve got a new offer on, things need to change. It’s no way to live.
You can switch off birthday notifications to your phone altogether though. If you go Settings >> Notifications >> Mobile, you can easily ditch the celebratory reminders. Huzzah, now we can go back to forgetting our best friend’s special day, just as nature intended.
10. HOW TO SEND A FACEBOOK UPDATE OVER SMS
“PLEASE HELP, I’M STUCK IN A RAVINE, NEED ASSISTANCE #FML.” A Facebook update like this could save your life. Maybe. And you could make it using the text function on your phone. That’s right, you can text Facebook like it’s 999.
There’s a dedicated feature for this called Facebook Texts. All you need to do is link a phone to your account, which we imagine most of you have done by now, then send a message reading “F” to 32665. This will set you up, then you just text that number again with your status update. There’s actually a whole bunch of other things you can do from your mobile too, like get texts every time a certain friend posts something – creepy.
11. HOW TO FIND THE HIDDEN BASKETBALL GAME IN MESSENGER
If you haven’t heard about this already, what rock have you been living under? Seriously, it’s Facebook’s worst kept secret and it’s an addictive time-sap of a game. Scurried away within Facebook Messenger, the basketball-based plaything lets you challenge your chums to shoot some hoops directly within the chat window.
It’s not something you’re likely to stumble across either. To play, you need to send your friend a basketball emoji then click on the sports-themed pictogram. This will launch the game over your chat, with both players’ high scores being logged in the feed.
12. HOW TO STILL POKE PEOPLE
Facebook’s original favourite feature – poking – still lives, really. Who knew, right? The social media equivalent of an office sexual harassment nightmare might not be the front-and-centre feature it once was, but it’s still there if you know where to look.
That place isn’t something you’re likely to stumble across though. On a friend’s profile page, click the “…” next to the ‘Message’ tab that sits over their cover photo. This will launch a drop-down menu that includes, amongst other things, the ability to have a good ol’ poke. It’s Facebook circa 2007 and we love it.
13. HOW TO LOG OUT REMOTELY TO AVOID LIFE MELTDOWN
Horror films have nothing on the fear of flogging your old phone on eBay, then sending it off still hooked up to your email and Facebook – arrrgh. You don’t necessarily have to start changing your passwords right away though. Facebook lets you see every phone and browser that has been, or that is, accessing your Facebook account, and then put a stop to them with a click.
To get to this screen, use the web interface and tap the drop-down menu at the top-right of the display. Select Settings >> Security >> Where You’re Logged In. Here you’ll be able to see all your log-ins over the last few months. Safe again, phew.
14. HOW TO TURN OFF AUTO-PLAY VIDEOS ON FACEBOOK
Whether you see auto-play videos as the scourge of the internet or just a quicker way to mainline funny cat clips says a lot about the kind of digital beast you are. To hate them is the classic old-school approach. And while Facebook embraces them as standard these days, you can turn them off.
On your browser you’ll find it right down at the bottom of the Settings menu. Click the Videos tab, which is home to the Auto-play switcher. Job done, you’ve just saved your data plan a serious kicking.
15. HOW TO PIRATE LINGO YOUR ACCOUNT
Avast me ‘arties, Facebook may be worth hundreds of billions of dollars, but it still knows how to have fun, honest. An example of classic Facey-B japes is the ability to change your language to ‘pirate’, turning the social network into ‘Ye Olde Facebook’ and ‘posts’ to ‘anchors’.
Fancy trying it out? Go Settings >> Language and switch out English for the mother tongue of the high seas. Don’t feel particularly piratey? There are dozens of languages to choose from including the Star Wars-sounding but utterly real Basa Jawa (the language of Java, if you’re wondering) or Upside Down English.
16. HOW TO LINK FACEBOOK TO YOUR TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS
Every social media pro seems to live on about a half-dozen social networks at once, hoovering up followers and friends like Morgan Freeman sauntering down a high street, flinging fivers with every step. You don’t need to spend all day hooked to your computer to get this effect, though.
The trick is to link your other social networks to Facebook so that they automatically post to it, saving you the effort. This doesn’t happen over at Facebook itself, but directly at places like Twitter and Instagram, the two most likely candidates for a Facebook hook-up.
17. HOW TO CHOOSE WHO GETS THE FACEBOOK REINS AFTER YOU’RE GONE
You’re going to die. Sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but it’s true. We’re so certain, we’d bet on it. But, hey, we all are. Facebook might not, though, so if you want to make sure your account isn’t going to fall into the wrong hands when the inevitable comes along, you can bequeath your account to someone trustworthy. Not that git who switched your language to Pirate.
How? Well, what you need to do is nominate a ‘Legacy Contact’, someone who gets control over your account when Facebook is advised of your passing. You’ll find this in the ‘Security’ part of both the Facebook web interface and mobile app.