Tag: Feed Control

Facebook Custom Lists – How they work and how to create them, not necessarily in that order.

Facebook Custom Lists – How they work and how to create them, not necessarily in that order.

We all agree that Facebook’s News Feed sucks. Neither the Top Stories nor Most Recent settings will get you everyone you might want to track, because NOBODY understands how their algorithm works (the magic that selects whose posts show up on top or at all in the feed).

And with over 675 Friends in my feed, chances are excellent that you might post something but I’ll never see it unless I go look.

Facebook introduced lists a long time ago (a couple of years, at least) but I generally don’t use their smart function because, honestly, I’d rather not tell Facebook who my family members are. So I’ve set up a variety of lists that serve the purpose of staying in touch without worrying so much about the newsfeed.

You can set up as many as you want, add them to Favorites, sort them however you wish. But be careful you’re not setting up a Group (because that’s different – Groups let people communicate with each other, but Lists are just for you).


See that blue bar at the top of the Facebook page? The one with the white square and blue “f”? Good. Looking to the right, you see a white bar (the Search bar) followed by a very small version of your Profile Picture (or silhouette if you’ve never set a Profile picture before).

Click on your name and you’ll see all sorts of things that are specific to you. There’s lots of stuff here, but what matters is the Friends link that appears at the bottom of the big “Cover” image. It should show Friends and a grayed out number (the number of Friends, with some tweaking, because Facebook doesn’t want you to know when someone drops you). But I digress.

Clicking on the Friends link will bring you to a page full of names and Profile Pictures.

You’ll also see a box to the right of the name that has a checkmark and Friends in it. This is the box you want when you’re first setting up the lists.

Mousing over the box gets you the following:

Get Notifications
Close Friends Acquaintances Add to Another List…
Suggest Friends See Friendship
Report/Block Unfriend

Now, Close Friends and Acquaintances are Facebook-driven lists. You can add people to either one and “guarantee” that either you’ll always see their posts or rarely see them, depending. Consigning someone to “Acquaintances” sets the algorithm up so that when you choose to set your privacy on a post to “Friends except Acquaintances” everyone on your Friends list will see the post EXCEPT those people on your Acquaintances list.

It’s a handy setting for folks you’ve never met in real life, or with whom you have a business-only relationship. If you post more personal stuff (as I do, occasionally), you can filter those posts out of other people’s feeds by being selective about who can see what you post.

Lists all work this way, to some extent, but custom lists allow you to further filter, based on your association with the person.

So let’s set up a List and call it Childhood. If you have a few Friends you’ve known since you were in elementary/primary school, you can add people to that list.

Find the first name that fits the List. Hover over the Friends link and then click on Add to Another List…(If the list box goes under the bottom of your screen, use the scroll bar on the right and scroll the Friends list up until you can fit the whole box.)

At the bottom of the list, you’ll see “+ New List. You may also see lists with a little lightning symbol next to them on the right. These are SMART lists, generated by your association with companies or other people’s connections to you. (If a Friend also worked at a company with you and tells Facebook you worked there, you’ll see that lightning symbol next to the list name. I don’t use these lists at all.)

Click on the “+ New List” link and name your new list Childhood. As soon as you do, you’ll see not just that the list now exists, but that there’s a checkmark next to it on the left. That means you’ve applied this list membership to the person in question.

You can go through the steps and mark other people who also qualify this way. Be warned, though. Facebook limits the number of lists that will actually display on your home page to a total of twelve, so if you add too many lists, you won’t see the list and won’t be able to select it from the Home page to use as a feed.

Done adding people to the list? Great. Go back to the Home page. (That’s the link up to the right of your name in the blue bar.)

Now you should see, in order of precedence:

News Feed
Pages you control (if any)
And your new Childhood list.

Underneath that, you may see Groups you’ve added to Favorites, followed by PAGES, GROUPS, FRIENDS, APPS, INTERESTS and more.

Click on the Childhood list and you’ll see content from the people you’ve added to the list, just like any other news feed option.

Best of all, Facebook hasn’t dumped the options list completely. If you click on Manage List (to the right under Facebook’s randomly selected photo), you can Rename the list, Edit the members of the list, and show the following:

Status Updates
Games (I turn this off for EVERYTHING)
Comments and Likes
Music and Videos
Other Activity

You can also Delete List, if you don’t like the group you’ve selected, though I find it easier to relabel and repurpose the list instead of deleting it.

And that’s it. Lots of time invested, but a better way to manage all the people you know on Facebook, especially if you have a long list of Friends like me.

Now if I could just figure out how to change the photo at the top of my custom list…


BC: Does “close friends” actually show everything people post? I know a normal list doesn’t.

RB-E: I really need to do this. I have one question–when you make a list like this, does it immediately start telling you every time a friend comments or likes something on someone else’s page? The FB lists do, and that’s why I don’t use them. I don’t care when a friend comments or likes the page of someone I don’t know, and I don’t like it when that information shows up in my newsfeed.

Me: I don’t know, BC. I never use Facebook’s version, because I don’t know what they’re doing with the data. If I never connect my close friends to my account, they can’t use that info. Ditto for Family. I get to control who I label that way if I use a custom list..

SD: If you uncheck “Comments and Likes” under :”Manage List”, that list won’t include the times that people comment or like something.

Me: I *think* you can control that information using the Manage List options. You can test it by turning off Comments and Likes (which I think is what makes those things show up in your feed). It’s also possible that Other Activity is what makes those things show up. Facebook is entirely silent on the topic of managing lists, so you have to use trial and error to set the list the way you want it.

Theoretically, true, SD. I just tried it and couldn’t make the comment I was seeing go away, so I’m not entirely sure about that.

SD: Huh. They don’t show up on my custom lists, but then again I uncheck most options other than status updates as soon as I create the list. Maybe it stops showing new ones from the point at which you uncheck it?

Me: SD’s on to something. Under Manage Lists, deselect everything except Status Updates. The Likes are definitely controlled by Comments and Likes and the “Has now friended X” goes away when you unclick Other Activity. If you don’t mind the Photos, Music and Videos, you can leave those in, but if they’re just clutter, ditch them, too.

SD: I suspect that Facebook is trying to encourage the use of custom lists, which is why they’ve removed the options list from individuals and kept it on custom lists. They need to publicize them more heavily though – I think the reason most people don’t use them is that they don’t know about them. They take almost no time to set up, unless you have several thousand friends, and they make it much easier to browse quickly for the posts you’re most interested in seeing.

RB-E: Awesome, thanks! I’ll have to do some Facebook pruning to see if I can get my newsfeed back to what I want.

DK: thanks. I sent you a PM. thanks for explaining things. I appreciate it.

Facebook’s Latest and Greatest? Oh I don’t know about that…

Facebook’s Latest and Greatest? Oh I don’t know about that…

Wow, Facebook. Just snuck that right in there, while nobody was paying attention, huh?

Hello, Facebook Friend.

Guess what?

All that time you might have taken to indicate that you don’t want to see comments or likes, all the extra effort you took so that you could stop seeing photos, all that extra time it took you to figure out whether the post was something you wanted to see or not?


Mouse over my name and you’ll see two options:

Following (with a check mark) or Follow (with a broadcast signal) and Friends (assuming your one of mine) or Add Friend (if you’re not – yet).

They’ve reduced the feed options to a binary set. Either you’re following someone or you’re not.

And you either “Get notifications” or you don’t.

There are still customized lists (for now) that allow you to filter people to various compartments of your life, including Acquaintances (folks you barely know or strangers) and Restricted, but most of the rest of the filters?


I wonder if this is why they wanted Matt’s hands off their code when it came to Friend Tracking for Social Fixer.

I dunno about this, FB. If I suddenly see a bunch more ads, I might have to bite the bullet and pull out of here, for reals.

Annoying Facebook Ads? Keep yourself off your friends’ pages!

Annoying Facebook Ads? Keep yourself off your friends’ pages!

Hey! So all those Facebook ads that are suddenly popping into your feed because someone “liked” something from a commercial site? You don’t like being linked that way? Don’t want to annoy your friends the same way?

Fix it!

If you look at the top of your Facebook page, on the right in the blue bar, you’ll see your icon and name, “Home” and a downward triangle.

Click the triangle once to open up your settings. Look at the bottom of the left column and you’ll see a text link for “privacy settings.” Click that link and it will open up a page with lots of useful settings here.

Find “Ads, Apps and Websites” to keep sponsored ads from showing up with your name on other FB user pages. Click Edit Settings again.

You can adjust all sorts of things here, especially if you use Apps frequently, but the sponsored ad stuff is below. See Ads, and click Edit Settings again.

Now you have two major ad types and you have to set each one individually. “Ads shown by third parties” and “Ads and friends” each have their own settings. Click through each section’s Edit Settings. (Or, try using these links, which might work for your login (or not):




The default is set to “Only My Friends” but you can change it to show “No One” your information. You have to choose the option in both places and save your settings.

FB advertised this change months and months ago, but finally got around to implementing the sponsor code about a month or so ago and it’s rolling out slowly. I just started seeing the ads on my page.

If you want me to tell you I’m seeing your name associated with restaurants and such, let me know. Happy to oblige.


Me: Now in convenient shareable format.

LS: I don’t think this actually works. I’ve had both of those settings set to “No One” for a long time, and I still see both types of ads regularly in my feed. Until this changes, I consider it nothing but a digital pacifier.

Me: No. Your settings affect what you display on other people’s pages. FB defaults to displaying your likes for your friends unless you take the time to say otherwise. Your friends need to do the same. As you can see from the directions, these settings are very well hidden. The average user has no idea how to change these settings – something FB counts on for selling the ads in the first place.

Like I said, feel free to share.

LS: Ah, I misread. And yes, they are very well hidden, a true marvel of deliberately obfuscated GUI design. I must grudgingly admire the evil genius behind it.

Me: Remarkable how sneaky this is, huh?

LS: Almost as hard to find as the place where you can block specific apps.

“But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

Me: HHGTTG reference FTW!

JZS: Thanks for typing this up. I had already set my preferences thusly but it pays to check that they haven’t somehow changed mysteriously.

Ah Facebook, what can you be thinking?

Ah Facebook, what can you be thinking?

Oh dear.

On Wednesday, November 21, at about 12:56pm, Facebook posted in their Site Governance page a note that they are changing their policy and requesting feedback of a more qualitative nature.

Continue reading “Ah Facebook, what can you be thinking?”

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