An Introduction To Facebook’s Closed And Secret Groups

One of the more interesting aspects of Facebook is the ability to create and join groups. There are groups for everything on the social network, including groups for dating, groups to sell stuff, groups for mothers, and more besides.

The thing is, in addition to the open groups, there are closed and secret Facebook groups too. In this article, you’ll learn more about Facebook groups and the differences between each type, and we’ll show you how to find the closed and secret groups.

What Are Open, Closed, and Secret Facebook Groups?

There are three types of Facebook groups: open, closed, and secret. Facebook groups, regardless of the type, all have some things in common. All are designed to allow members to share locations, plan events, and exchange contact information. But there are some differences.

Open Groups

Open groups are, not surprisingly, accessible to anyone with a Facebook account. This means anyone can see the group’s name, location, member list, and posts. Perhaps most importantly, anything that’s posted in the group is available in Facebook searches and on the news feed.

Want to join an open Facebook group? Go right ahead; membership doesn’t require an invite or approval.

Closed Groups

Closed groups, by contrast, add some restrictions. Like open groups, the name, description, and member list of a closed group are readily available. Closed groups are also found in Facebook searches.

Unlike open groups, however, closed groups require that new members get approved by an administrator or get invited to join by a current member. Additionally, only current members can see what’s being discussed in group posts and on its news feed.

Secret Groups

Secret groups, as you would suspect, are the most private of the three types of Facebook groups. No aspect of a secret group is publicly visible, new members must be added or invited by current members to join, and only members can see group posts with or without a comment. However, former members who have voluntarily left the group can still find the group in search and see its name, description, tags, and location.

How to Find Closed Facebook Groups

Unsurprisingly, there’s no simple way to find a listing for all Facebook groups, at least those which are open or closed. Actually, this is a good thing, given that there are hundreds of thousands of Facebook groups.

However, there are some awesome ways to discover new Facebook groups. To find a closed group on Facebook, you’ll want first to become familiar with Facebook Search. This tool will find almost anything you want, but you should take your time and use it correctly. Using filters and keywords can help you narrow your search.

Because Facebook already knows a lot about you, check out Facebook’s Groups page. Here you can see what groups you have joined, and what groups you have been invited to join. And if you click the “Discover” tab you’ll see groups Facebook recommends for you, groups local to you, and groups your friends have joined.

The Facebook Sale Groups is another excellent URL worth exploring. You can find plenty of communities right here which are looking to buy or sell stuff. There’s also an easy-to-use map that shows you the location of sale groups near you.

facebook sale groups

If you’re looking to find some more bizarre Facebook groups, we recommend you search Reddit for “Facebook groups” and prepare to get a surprise. It seems the world is full of some rather twisted Facebook groups.

Using this method I discovered closed Facebook groups for anime, LuLaRoe sellers, and “extreme triggering,” to name a few of the more benign ones.

How to Find Secret Facebook Groups

Thanks to the internet, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hide anything anymore, including the fact that these secret Facebook groups exist.

Finding a secret Facebook group is all about finding a member list or the administrator of the group. Once you do that, you can try to get an invite by contacting them on Facebook. You should also take advantage of your own friends by asking around to see if they belong to any secret groups that might interest you.

For example, if you’re a parent, the odds are pretty high that some of your Facebook friends are also parents. Some of those almost certainly belong to secret Facebook groups for parents. Remember, just like real life, social networking requires a certain amount of, well, networking.

As with closed groups, you can also search Reddit for “secret Facebook groups”. Here, you’ll find a running list of secret groups discovered by Reddit members. Not everything discussed here is appropriate for everyone, nor are the listings always verified. Still, if you’re willing to go down a slightly murky rabbit hole, this is a great place to start.

Secret Facebook groups are out there waiting to be discovered if you do some digging.

Making Use of Facebook Groups

If you’re looking for a community of like-minded individuals, joining a Facebook group is a great way to go about doing so. Facebook’s open, closed, and secret groups allow you to increase your circle of friends and learn more about the things you already love.

There’s much more to discover about Facebook too. Perhaps you want to learn about some hidden Facebook tricks, or discover the unwritten rules for Facebook friend requests.

Image Credit: zentilia/Depositphotos

7 Essential Linkedin Profile Tips For Success In 2018

LinkedIn is a valuable resource for anyone looking for a job or to expand their professional connections. But if you don’t know how to write a good LinkedIn profile, you won’t be taking full advantage of it.

How do you show up in more searches? How do you show up in the right searches? And how do you get more people to take action?

These LinkedIn profile tips will help you increase your LinkedIn profile views in 2018.

Note that we’re going to skip the basics, like including a professional photo and making sure your information is always up-to-date, and go right to the things that make a great LinkedIn profile.

1. Niche Down to Stand Out

There are millions of people on LinkedIn. How are you going to stand out?

The answer is simple: niche down. Instead of pitching yourself as a manager, focus on presenting your profile as that of an IT manager. Or, even better, an IT manager with expertise in higher education systems.

The more specific you are with what you do and what you’re looking for, the more likely you are to be found.

For example, I recently looked at a niche I was using on my own LinkedIn profile. I ran a search for “b2b copywriter.” It came back with over 800 results. Then I ran a search for “b2b saas copywriter.”

Nine results:

LinkedIn search results number

It’s true that there will be fewer people looking at specific niches. But those people are also much more likely to want to hire (or at least get in touch with) you.

This is one of the more nerve-wracking LinkedIn profile tips. But it’s recommended by countless experts who say that it will improve your search views as well as the quality of people who find you.

2. Treat Your LinkedIn Profile as a Sales Page

If you want to know how to improve your LinkedIn profile in 2018, this is possibly the most important tip.

A potential client, employer, or business partner isn’t interested in your skills and experience—they interested in what your skills and experience can do for them.

And you need to sell that.

While your LinkedIn profile does serve as a sort of online résumé, it needs to be more than that if you want to appeal to valuable contacts. It needs to use the core principles of good sales to attract views and get people interested.

Possibly the most important thing to keep in mind is your customer persona. Who are you trying to attract with your LinkedIn profile? Are you looking for a job at a Fortune 500 company? Or a local startup? Do you want to be a teacher, or an airplane mechanic?

And, crucially, what do they want? If you can convince them that you can provide it better than anyone else, you’ve won.

The better you understand who you’re selling to with your LinkedIn profile, the more effective it will be. Keep in mind who you’re writing for and what they want, especially as you go through the next step.

3. Use Your Profile to Tell a Story

Once you’ve figured out who you want to see and be convinced by your LinkedIn profile, it’s time to start crafting a story. This is one of the most crucial parts of creating a great LinkedIn profile, and it’s also one of the hardest.

But the science is clear: effective storytelling engages people in a way that a simple recitation of your qualifications won’t. If you can create an emotional response in your viewer, the effectiveness of your LinkedIn profile will skyrocket.

Here are three questions to ask:

  • What causes your potential customer or employer pain?
  • How can you help ease that pain?
  • What will your reader feel like once you have?

If you can incorporate those three things into your summary, you’ll have a profile that stands out from the rest. Use these copywriting formulas to help create demand with your story, and your profile will become irresistible.

Here’s a great example of an opening line from an effectively emotional LinkedIn profile:

“I’ve been told I’m ‘like a one-woman TED conference without any breaks.’ If you want an intelligent writer and editor who never stops connecting the dots, step away from the search box—you’ve found me.”

Sophie Lizard’s LinkedIn profile is a lead-generating machine because it evokes emotion in its readers.

Learning to effectively tell stories in the business world is difficult. But it can be done. I suggest reading “Storytelling That Moves People,” a great Harvard Business Review interview with Robert McKee, to get some ideas.

And remember that while your summary is the main place to tell a story, you can also continue and support that story with your experience entries.

4. Include Calls to Action

This is one of the most significant omissions that people make with their LinkedIn profiles. They put out a bunch of information, and then leave it up to the reader to do something about it.

That’s not going to cut it.

You need to tell the reader what you want them to do. Here’s an example from my own LinkedIn profile:

“If you want stellar copy that moves leads through your funnel, get in touch. Send me an InMail or email me at dann.albright@gmail.com. I’m always open to chat about potential contracts, interesting projects, writing in general, and—when at all possible—mountain biking.”

It tells the people looking at my profile what they can get from me, and how they can start the process. It makes it very clear what I’m looking for.

GrammarChic lists four qualities that make a great call to action: brevity, strong action words, a value proposition, and contact information. You can see some great combinations of those factors in their examples of great CTAs.

You can also include these calls to action in your experience entries. Don’t overwhelm your reader with demands to connect or email you. But make sure that they never have to look very far to figure out how to get in touch.

5. Spice Up Your Profile With Media

Your LinkedIn profile is largely about sharing information—which is why it’s so text-heavy. But science has repeatedly shown that people are attracted to images. Take advantage of that fact by including media throughout your profile.

You can even publish your own content through LinkedIn.

For example, you can include media in your summary and experience entries that show the kind of projects that you worked on. It could be a link to an article that you published. Or a local news story covering the work your company does. It could even be a photo of you speaking at an event.

Media included in a LinkedIn job experience entry

Whatever it is, it will catch people’s attention, and that’s crucial when you’re trying to boost views of your LinkedIn profile.

You can upload videos too, which is a great way to start establishing a personal connection with your readers before they even get in touch. Introduction videos, clips of your presenting or giving speeches, and anything else that shows off your expertise can be useful.

SlideShare has become a very popular content-sharing tool, and you can add slideshows to your profile, too. If you have a good slideshow, this is a great use for it.

6. Use the Right Keywords

People obsess about keywords on LinkedIn. And one hand, it makes sense. Those keywords are how you get found. On the other, choosing the right keywords is a pretty simple exercise. If you spent some time thinking about your ideal client/employer/connection, you should have a pretty good idea of what they’re searching for.

LinkedIn's keywords your searchers used view

For example, if you’re looking for a management position with a non-profit organization, the people you want to connect with might be searching for “non-profit management,” “non-profit leadership,” and “fundraising,” to name a few.

Want to get a job as an app developer? “Java developer,” “Java programming,” “app creation,” “app building,” “Swift development,” and similar keywords are likely to be valuable.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn treats similar searches differently (“Java development” and “Java developer” return very different results).

So you’ll want to include variations as well.

The primary keywords you want to target should be in your headline, your position titles, summary, experience descriptions, projects, certifications, publications, and anywhere else you can put them.

Make it very obvious to LinkedIn’s search algorithm that you qualify for the search term you’re targeting.

Your headline is especially important. Laura Smith-Proulx gives a perfect example of how to better include keywords in your headline. Instead of simply saying “Operations Associate,” she says, you could use “Operations Associate – Operations Manager for Thermo-printing Division.”

That not only includes two more keywords, but it also gives people a better idea of what you do.

But Don’t Go Overboard With Keywords

This is crucial. Above all else, it’s important to use well-crafted copy that tells a story and makes an emotional connection with your reader. Stuffing a ton of keywords into your profile is going to be obvious, and doesn’t speak well for your communication skills.

It’s easy to spot a profile that was written solely for LinkedIn search engine optimization. And it really turns people off.

7. Be Active on LinkedIn

This might not fall directly under LinkedIn profile tips, but it will lead to more profile views and better search rankings. The more active you are on LinkedIn, the more you’ll improve your profile visibility, and the more likely people are to find you.

LinkedIn's profile articles and activity view

Whether it’s because you’re connected to their connections, they see a comment in a group that you’re in, or you sent them a message a while back, your activity makes you stand out.

You don’t need to start spending tons of time on LinkedIn. Just make a point to share useful articles related to your field, update your network on what you’re doing (professionally), comment on other people’s posts, and things like that.

A great way to find awesome articles to read and share is by following great LinkedIn influencers.

To Succeed on LinkedIn, Focus on Being Helpful

LinkedIn is about making connections. Sometimes those connections lead to jobs, and sometimes they don’t. But knowing more people in your field (and outside of it) is always a good thing.

And the best way to connect with people is always to be helpful. Other them your expertise or to help them out with a project. That’s what really creates bonds between people, and that’s what will significantly improve the visibility of your LinkedIn profile.

21 More Facebook Tricks & Features You Should Be Using

It’s tough to keep up with every feature and setting that Facebook introduces. Many you’ll forget about. Others you’ll never hear about. But the odd few will stick, adding even more to your Facebook experience.

We’ve listed many Facebook tricks and Facebook tips before. But since those articles were published, there are even more to cover. Below you’ll find another 21 features, tips and tricks that could change the way you use the world’s largest social network.

1. Sell Your Stuff on Facebook

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Marketplace

Most people know about Facebook’s super-popular buy-and-sell groups. But very recently, Facebook launched a new Marketplace feature, where you can sell your old stuff for free. Facebook has no part in payment processing and shipping, so that’s all down to you.

The feature is gradually being rolled out to all users. You can access this by clicking on the shop icon (if you can see it), at the bottom of the app.

2. Find Local Events From Facebook

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Events

Events from Facebook is a brand new iOS app that’ll act as your own events calendar. Pulling information from the millions of events currently on Facebook, this is a new app from Facebook that could relegate Fear of Missing Out to the past.

At the time of writing, the app is only available to U.S. users on iOS, but an Android version is coming soon.

3. Save for Later

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Save Post

If you see any Facebook posts that you want to save to check out later, click the small arrow at the top right of the update, and click Save.

To review saved posts, go to the Saved tab on your newsfeed on desktop, or click on the Saved option on the features list in the mobile app. All of your saved posts will be categorized based on the type of post they are.

4. Stop Facebook Game Notifications

Facebook Tricks and Features -- App Notifications

If you’re still getting bugged by game and app notifications in Facebook, you’ve got to stop that distraction right now.

Click on the top right dropdown in Facebook, and go to Settings > Notifications > on Facebook. Then next to App Requests and Activity, click Edit. You’ll see a list of all the apps that are sending you notifications. Disable those you no longer want to receive notifications from.

5. Set an Animated Facebook Profile Picture

Facebook Tricks and Features -- GIF Profile Pic

On the mobile app, head to your profile. If this feature is available to you, you’ll see an icon in the corner of your profile picture, flashing between a camera, and a video camera. Click that icon, and you’ll be offered the option to record or select a video as your Facebook profile picture.

You can either record a new video, or select one from your camera roll. The maximum length is seven seconds.

6. Look Out For the Lightning Bolt

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Instant Article

You may not have noticed this, but if you see a lightning bolt next to an article within the Facebook mobile app, that means it’s an Instant Article. Instant articles load within the Facebook app much faster than articles that link to sites outside of the app.

7. Stop Auto-Playing Facebook Videos

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Video Autoplay

To stop videos from playing as soon as you scroll past them in your browser, go to Settings > Videos, then click the dropdown next to Auto-play Videos, and select Off.

If you want to do this within the mobile app, go the the More tab (bottom right), click Settings > Account Settings > Videos and Photos, then select the auto-play option you want.

8. Prioritize News From Certain Facebook Pages

Facebook Tricks and Features -- News Feed Preferences

If you have a few favorite facebook pages (or people) you want to see more posts from, there’s a way to prioritize these in your newsfeed.

Click on the dropdown at the top right of Facebook, then click News Feed Preferences > Prioritize Who to See First. Select any people or pages you want to prioritize. Once done, posts from these accounts will appear at the top of your newsfeed.

9. See What Your Facebook Profile Looks Like to Others

Facebook Tricks and Features -- View as Others

If you’ve been playing around with your privacy settings on Facebook and want to see what your profile looks like to other people, it’s easily done.

Go to your profile, and click the dropdown at the bottom of your cover photo. Then click View As. You can then see what your profile looks like either to members of the public, or to specific people in your network.

10. Keep Your Friends List Private

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Private Friends List

If you want to keep people from scrolling through your friends list, you can set this so only you can see it.

Go to your Profile > Friends. On the main Friends window, click Edit > Edit Privacy. Next to Who Can See Your Friends List, select the privacy option you want.

11. Manage Where You’re Logged In

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Login Manager

To manage all the different places you’re currently logged into Facebook, go to Settings > Security > Where You’re Logged In > Edit.

From this window, you’ll be able to see all the devices that have you logged into Facebook, and disconnect any connections you no longer want active. This is useful in case you might have left yourself logged in on a public computer, or at a friend’s house.

12. Take Your Stalking Up a Notch

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Search

Facebook’s search feature is more powerful than most people think. If you’re into Facebook stalking it’s pretty nifty for that, too.

In the search bar, dependent on your target’s privacy settings, you can search for things like:

  • “Posts liked by [name]”
  • “Posts commented on by [name]”
  • “Pages liked by [name]”
  • “Places visited by [name]”

13. Add a Bio to Your Facebook Profile

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Bio

Pretty recently, Facebook made it possible for you to add a short bio about yourself, which is displayed beneath your profile picture.

To add or edit this, go to your profile, and click Describe who you are underneath your profile picture.

14. Stop Notifications From Individual Posts

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Disable Notifications

If you commented on or shared a post that’s become too popular, you may want to stop receiving notifications about that post.

To do this, go to the post, click the dropdown at the top right corner, and select Turn off notifications for this post.

Conversely, you can use these same steps to turn on notifications for posts without needing to comment on them.

15. Display a Nickname on Facebook

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Nickname

If some people know you only as your nickname, you’ll probably want to add this to your profile so new friends can find you more easily.

To add a nickname, go to your profile > About > Details about you. In the Other names section, select Add a nickname, and choose whether you would like this displayed at the top of your profile.

16. Toggle Between Top Stories and Most Recent

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Most Recent Posts

When you’re browsing your Facebook newsfeed, click the dropdown menu next to Newsfeed in the left column, and select Most recent.

Your newsfeed will now (temporarily) display more than just the top stories from your network. Given a little time, it will revert back to top stories so you’re not inundated with all those new updates.

17. Change the Ads You See

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Ad Preferences

Believe it or not, you do have some control over the ads that Facebook shows you. When you see an ad you don’t like, click the dropdown in the top right corner of the post, and select Why am I seeing this?, then choose Manage your advert preferences.

You’ll basically be shown a picture of what Facebook knows about you. It’s this picture of you that determines the kind of ads Facebook will display in your newsfeed.

Go through these interests and delete any that are no longer relevant, and remove advertisers who you no longer want to see ads from. This is also a good time to make any necessary changes to your profile. This could include correcting your city of residence etc. so that you only see ads that are more suited to your current situation.

18. Download All of Your Facebook Information

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Download Data

To download your Facebook information, go to Settings > General > Download a copy of your Facebook data.

The download will include all posts, videos, and photos you’ve shared, messages and chat conversations, details from your about section, ads you’ve clicked, and an enormous amount more.

19. Play Basketball in Facebook Messenger

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Basketball

Once you’ve checked your Messenger app is up to date, send a basketball emoji to one of your Facebook contacts. When you then tap the emoji, the secret basketball game will automatically launch.

This is just one of many cool new Facebook messenger tricks you might like to try. There are also lots of new Messenger bots you should check out.

20. Keep Poking People

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Poke

Yes, you can still poke people on Facebook. Simply go to their profile, click the dropdown next to their cover picture, then click Poke.

21. Appear Online Only to Select Friends

Facebook Tricks and Features -- Appear Offline

If you only want select friends on Facebook to know when you’re online, go to the chat list of friends in the right column of your newsfeed, and click the Settings button, then Advanced settings. Select turn off chat for all friends except…, and type the names of the friends you want to be able to see when you’re online. You can also use custom-made friends lists to limit who can see you online.

What Else Can You Do With Facebook?

You obviously won’t use all of these tips, tricks and features, but hopefully there are a few here that will improve your Facebook experience.

What else have we missed from this list? Which other Facebook features and settings have you found useful?

Should You Be Concerned About Your Facebook Data Being Scraped?

How would you feel if you discovered your picture on a website, where people rank the picture as to whether or not you look like a jerk? Well, it’s a true story.

In April of 2014, the FTC issued a complaint against the website Jerk.com, which had scraped personal information from public Facebook profiles, and loaded that info on the site. According to the FTC, from 2009 through 2013, the owners of the website encouraged visitors to vote whether the person looked like a jerk or not.

It was a shady website idea, and it calls into question whether or not, just because a person makes their Facebook profile public, that data can be used for any purpose whatsoever. In fact, this is only one example of a long series of similar incidents where data from Facebook user profiles have been scraped and used in some inappropriate manner.

In this article, we’ll help you understand whether or not your profile is in danger of being scraped, and what you can do to stop it.

Scraping Facebook Data for Fun and Profit

The year 2010 was a hot one for Facebook data-mining programmers. Facebook had not yet established strong anti-scraping protection measures on the site, so programmers were having a field day pulling user data of the site.

facebook-scraping1

It was in 2010 that security researcher Ron Bowes successfully scraped the names, addresses and ID numbers of 100 million Facebook users, and providing the list (along with his source code) as a free 2.8 gigabyte BitTorrent download for anyone to use.

Facebook issued a statement in response to this, assuring the public that the data obtained by Ron Bowes was nothing more than information that users had already permitted to be made public.

In this case, information that people have agreed to make public was collected by a single researcher. This information already exists in Google, Bing, other search engines, as well as on Facebook. No private data is available or has been compromised.

The problem was pretty serious back then, as computer programmer Pete Warden discovered and wrote about in April of 2010.

Pete managed to create a PHP crawler that pulled up names and locations of Facebook users, but when he discovered he could also obtain information about who people were friends with and what they liked – he recognized the business potential behind selling user data from Facebook.

Talking to a few other startups they also needed the same sort of service so I started looking into either exposing a search API or sharing that sort of ‘phone book for the Internet’ information with them.

The reward for his efforts was a call from a Facebook attorney, who threatened massive legal action if he did not remove his entire data-set from the Internet (and convince the startups he was working with to remove their data-sets as well.)

Imagine Finding Your Mug on a Dating Site…

Then, there was the case in 2011 of a faux dating site called Lovely Faces, set up by Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico of Italy, who used an automated bot program to scrape data from over 1 million public Facebook profiles.

Facebook threatened to take legal action against the website, unless they took down the 250,000 profiles with data – including real photos – that had been scraped off of Facebook.

lovely-faces

The site was removed from the Internet, and has been unavailable since.

More recently, in 2013, a hacker made use of an exploit in Facebook’s Graph Search, collecting 2.5 million phone numbers from thousands of Facebook profiles. In this case, as in every case, Facebook tries to aggressively defend the private information of Facebook users by threatening legal action, but it also defends itself by publicly reaffirming that all data that was scraped came from information Facebook users have willingly made publicly available.

So, how do you avoid the possibility of seeing your face show up on some random dating website, or your phone number in some massive database that gets sold off to telemarketers? The answer is pretty simple: understand and make use of the privacy options that are available on your Facebook account.

Be Responsible About What You Make Public

It’s important to understand that in the majority of “data scraping” cases, programmers and hackers are doing nothing more than pulling data off of Facebook that you, yourself, have made available to the entire Internet.

As far back as 2010, MakeUseOf offered an unofficial privacy guide to securing your private information on Facebook. We’ve offered a steady stream of updated privacy tips, and constantly updated privacy guides each year.

If you don’t have time to read those guides, then here are a few basic privacy tips you can use to ensure that only your friends can see your posts, and not the whole world.  The first is the privacy setting that’s available with every single Facebook status that you post.

facebook-privacy2

There is a dropdown button next to the “Post” button that lets you select either “Public” or “Private”.  If you decide to post that status update – or a personal picture – and you keep the status as “Public”, then that post or picture is available for anyone on the Internet to scrape. This is also true even if you’ve set up your profile settings to be as private as possible.

Leaving post status updates as “Public” is the single most common mistake people make with posting private information on Facebook. I cringe every time I see family or friends posting photos of their children, or compromising personal photos, and leave the privacy setting on the post to public.

You can set up a higher level of security to protect from scraping by going into your profile settings.

facebook-scraping2

Then, go into the “Privacy” settings on the left navigation column.

facebook-scraping3

This area is where you can set the important defaults that’ll protect your account from web scraping. Are you sick of your posts defaulting to “Public” every time you create a new post? Maybe you forget to set them to private when you post? Well, you aren’t alone, so protect yourself by changing that setting to default to “Friends”.

facebook-scraping4Also review the “Who can contact me?” and “Who can look me up” sections to make sure that it’s set to either “Friends of Friends” or “Friends” (preferably “Friends”). The last setting – whether you want to allow other search engines to link to your timeline – should be set to “No” for most users concerned about online privacy. However, in my case, I actually do want my posts that are set as “Public” to be searchable on Google, so I leave this setting to Yes.

The key is to be very careful, with every post, to make sure that you only set posts or pictures to “Public” when you actually want anyone from the Internet to see it.

If you’ve already created a whole bunch of photos and left them visible to the public, you have two options to hide them. The first is to hide them all by limiting past posts to Friends only. You do this by going into the Privacy settings again and clicking on “Limit Past Posts”.

facebook-scraping5

Using this feature changes everything you’ve set to Public in the past, to friends only. This is fantastic if you’re looking to completely lock down your whole account from scrapers.

Verifying What the Public Can or Can’t See

However, if you still want to keep some of your stuff public, you’ll need to individually set the privacy settings on each photo. You don’t need to search for them, you can see what’s available to the public by using the “View As” feature in the “Timeline and Tagging” link on the left navigation bar on your Facebook Settings page.

facebook-scraping6

This will switch you over to a special “Public View” mode, where you can see what your profile looks like to the general public.

facebook-scraping7

While you’re here, check your “About” page to make sure you don’t have phone numbers, addresses or email addresses that are visible to the public.

facebook-scraping8

Next, go to your “Photos” tab and review what photos from your account that the public can see.

facebook-scraping9

If you see any there that you accidentally made public, just click on the photo, and change the privacy setting to “Friends” rather than “Public”.

facebook-scraping11

If you haven’t defaulted your posts to “Friends” only, you may be surprised at what photos you discover are available to the public when you perform this little exercise. Yes, that means that those photos were and are available to be scraped by hackers, and used in whatever database, or whatever website, where they want to use it. The only way to protect yourself is to make sure the privacy of your photos and posts are tightly controlled, using the tips offered above.

Have you ever been the victim of Facebook scraping? Did you try the above exercise and discover some of your photos were accidentally made public? Share your thoughts about Facebook privacy in the comments section below.

Image Credits: Sukharevskyy Dmytro (nevodka) / Shutterstock.com

Arrested For A Tweet: When Twitter, Trolling, And The Law Collide

Let me ask you a question. Where do you draw the line on freedom of speech? Some say the line ends at incitement to violence, or shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. Others might say the line should be drawn at someone’s religious sensibilities.

How about ironically tweeting the hashtag “#KillAllWhiteMen”?

“Men Not Welcome”

Bahar Mustafa works (possibly “worked” by the time you read this) as a Welfare and Diversity Officer at Goldsmiths, University of London’s Student Union. In April 2015, she posted a Facebook update advertising a social event at the university exclusively for women from a BME (black and minority ethnic) background.

The post concluded with a paragraph emphasizing the event was exclusively for ethnic minority women, saying “… if you’ve been invited and you’re a man and/or white PLEASE DON’T COME”.

baharmustafa

An unlikely outrage followed, with coverage of the post hitting Reddit’s frontpage, and petitions made and signed calling for Mustafa’s sacking. It was the kind of vitriol usually reserved for celebrities and politicians. To see it directed at a low-level student union employee was incredibly strange.

But rather than gracefully back down, and apologize for the divisive wording of the post, Mustafa doubled down, insisting that she couldn’t be racist towards white men.

“I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist toward white men, because racism and sexism describe structures of privilege based on race and gender and therefore women of color and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist since we do not stand to benefit from such a system.”

The Internet was furious. Once again, she found herself as Reddit’s bête du jour, and again she found herself under an immense amount of scrutiny. Her Twitter feed, in particular, was dug through. A number of Ill-advised tweets were highlighted, including one calling a fellow University of London student “white trash”, and one ironically using the hashtag “#KillAllWhiteMen”.

It was the latter tweet that was reported to the police, who are now investigating it. A Scotland Yard spokesperson said “Police received a complaint on May 7 about a racially motivated malicious communication that had been made on a social media account. There have been no arrests and enquiries are continuing.”

London’s finest are investigating a hashtag. A hashtag.

Any fair-minded person probably realizes that Mustafa doesn’t want to actually kill all white men. She was being ironic. Her tongue was quite firmly lodged in her cheek when she wrote it, and as Max Benwell writing in the Independent saliently put it, it’s not as though there’s a history of women committing acts of genocide against white men. As a threat, it’s one completely without any credibility.

So why then is she being investigated? Well, as it turns out, the UK has a long and sordid history of investigating and arresting people for the crime of making crap, ham-fisted jokes on Twitter. People have even gone to jail for it.

“LOL. F*** Muamba he’s dead”

It was a shocking moment in British soccer. Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba had collapsed on the pitch, after suffering a massive cardiac arrest. It later turned out his heart had stopped for a total of 78 minutes. The match – an inconclusive 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspurs – was abandoned, as was the Wanderer’s next match due to take place against Aston Villa.

This being British Premiership soccer, the shocking scenes were broadcast live to millions, with millions more watching online.

Watching at home was Welsh student Liam Stacey. As is the British tradition, Stacey was watching the game whilst drinking – heavily. In his blackout drunk state, Stacey posted a number of pretty off-color tweets.

The tweets caused outrage – the kind of outrage that the British tabloid press loves to exploit. The kind of outrage that sells papers, and causes people to post angry tweets in ALL CAPS without stopping to use the spellchecker.

Stacey was arrested, charged, and sentenced to 56 days in jail. He was also banned from setting foot on the campus of Swansea University, where he was due to sit the final exams for his degree in Biology.

So, what did Liam Stacey post? I’m going to copy his tweets below, with profanities stared out. I warn you: they’re particularly offensive. But are they so offensive they justify a 56 day prison sentence? I’ll let you be the judge. The first was:

LOL. F*** Muamba he’s dead !!! #Haha

This unleashed a flood of outraged tweets, to which he responded:

@porcavacca owww go suck a n****r d**k you f*****g aids ridden c**t

@SamParishPR go suck muamba’s dead black d**k then you aids ridden t**t! #muambasdead

Stupid? Yes. Offensive? Massively so. It reads like someone projectile vomited all the swear words they know, trying to be offensive for the sake of offensive. The type of tantrum you’d expect a three year old to throw after listening to George Carlin’s “seven dirty words”. But hardly incitement.

Stacey eventually sobered up and deleted the Tweets, but they were still retweeted, screenshotted and shared, and published on the pages of the right-wing British tabloid press. The next day, a hungover Stacey was charged.

It’s been alleged that the decision to prosecute him was a result of mindless, tabloid fury. Many on the left, including the Catholic Herald, described his disproportionate punishment as “inhumane”. Even Thomas Hammarberg, the European Commissioner for human rights, condemned his sentence, calling it ‘excessive’.

It wouldn’t be the first and only time someone would be made an example of for Twitter-based stupidity.

“Equal Under The Law?”

But that’s not to excuse them. The tweets they posted from their personal accounts were, naturally, highly offensive. But were they any more vulgar, any more threatening than ones posted by professional rent-a-troll Katie Hopkins?

Hopkins, a former reality TV contestant, once described Pauline Cafferkey – a Scottish nurse who returned from Sierra Leone infected with the ebola virus – as an “ebola bomb” and a “sweaty Glaswegian”.

She’s a columnist for the most widely read newspaper in the UK, who once said this of writer Laurie Penny:

Hopkins, who has been photographed with David Cameron and has 500,000 Twitter followers, once implied that all men of Pakistani origin were sexual predators, whilst embroiled in a spat with Labour MP Simon Danczuk.

Admittedly, Hopkins has previously been reported to the police for things she’s posted on Twitter, although she has never been charged or convicted. But why? Hopkins’s posts were just as offensive, and were sent to a much larger audience, who then echoed and amplified the original message, adding their own bile in the process.

With that in mind, you could be forgiven for questioning whether the law is being fairly applied.

Speech Worth Defending?

The Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee, in an interview with comedian Stewart Lee, once said that the problem with arguing against censorship is that you inevitably end up defending the lowest forms of speech. She was right.

In this case, we’re talking about Liam Stacey’s drunken ranting, and Bahar Mustafa, who could quite easily be an absurdist Harry Enfield parody of a Tumblr-user.

Before I continue, allow me to be abundantly clear: I think Liam Stacey and Bahar Mustafa are both colossal idiots.

But the thing is, being an idiot shouldn’t be illegal. Neither should it be illegal to be a grossly offensive idiot. Offense is a really strange thing. It’s something that’s ultimately quite subjective to the person being offended. It changes from person to person. It’s highly personal, and has everything to do with you, and nothing to do with the speech itself.

Had Stacey posted his tweets in the United States, he would have been protected by the First Amendment, as would have Mustafa. And as they should be. As a society, we shouldn’t be in the habit of censoring ideas and viewpoints we dislike, no matter how abhorrent and crass they are.

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But that’s not the society we live in.

The number of prosecutions of social media related offenses in the UK has surged. Last year, 1,209 people were found guilty of offenses under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 compared to 143 in 2004.

The communications act makes it a criminal offense to send “grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false” electronic messages.

Of those convicted, an astonishing 155 were jailed.

Instead of using the full weight of the legal system, should we instead teach empathy and kindness, and not give histrionic Twitter trolls the oxygen of publicity and attention? When did “don’t feed the trolls” lose its relevance? Did anyone really benefit when Liam Stacey was locked up, castigated in the national media, and banned from his university?

But if we are to prosecute people for what they post on Twitter, shouldn’t we ensure that the law is enforced fairly, with not just the poorest, most vulnerable, the most stupid, the youngest, the most impressionable, and the most disenfranchised being prosecuted?

You probably know what I think. But what about you? Let me know in the comments section below, and we’ll chat.

Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [opinion]

Unless you have been living under a rock for several weeks you’ll know the iPad 3 is now in the wild. I’m not a particularly big fan of the latest iteration, which sees Apple again relying on one killer feature (the Retina Display) to tempt people in. However, enough people were impressed by “the new iPad” that there were long queues outside Apple Stores around the world once again.

I personally cannot fathom the mindset of people who queue for the latest gadget on launch day. I’ve tried, I really have, but I think it’s a bizarre choice to queue up for hours or even days, through all weathers, purely in order to purchase a next-gen device in person.

This applies to more than just Apple products, but for some reason few people queue for Samsung or Sony products in quite the same way.

There Is No Need To Queue

Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion] Patience

Let’s not bury the lede here. There is absolutely no need to ever queue for a new gadget on day one. Even if you’re the most-impatient person in the world, the Internet means queuing (in person rather than virtually) is unnecessary.

Using Apple as the best example, a new product is announced, be it the latest iPhone, iPad, or Mac. You have several choices at this point. Assuming you want to buy one, you can pre-order online, with the product in question being delivered to your home as soon as it’s available, or you can go to an Apple Store on launch day and take your chances along with the rest of those hopeful of securing one.

Or, and this will come as a shock to some, you can wait. You don’t have to buy the latest gadget on the block immediately. Wait a few weeks and the supply lines will catch up with demand, and you’ll then be able to either order online or wander into any store and purchase your product of choice without the need to wait or queue. This has to be preferable.

Loss Of Productivity

Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion] Sick Day

I wonder how many people took the day (or even the whole week) off in order to queue for their iPad 3? You have to assume it’s a significant proportion. Judging by how the people who populate these launch events look, most either have jobs (probably good ones if they can afford to buy Apple) or are full-time students. Did they call in sick or ditch college in order to attend? If so I hate to think of the productivity lost each and every time Apple launches another product. Which is, you have to admit, quite often.

Then again I’m a self-confessed Angry Birds addict, and I suspect more days have been lost to that particular casual mobile game than have been lost to Apple launch events. Still, it’s not good to see people queuing needlessly when they could be doing something much more constructive with their time. Like reading MakeUseOf.

Apple Wins, We All Lose

Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion] Apple Store

People who are on the inside of the cult of Apple reject its existence. They will tell you there is no such thing. But it’s obvious to all those of us on the outside looking in that it does. And the faith which some people have in Apple borders on religious zealotry. This is at its height in the weeks between a new product being announced and it making it onto the shelves of Apple Stores worldwide.

Queuing for days and nights in front of an Apple Store only adds to the whole cult of Apple. It gives the company an undeserved veneer of invulnerability, as if they and their products have been sent to us from high above. And it gives the company free advertising, as the queues are shown on the nightly news.

This is all good for Apple, obviously, but not so good for the average consumer, as Apple are highly unlikely to lower prices all the while they have fans as fervent as this. It’s also not good even for committed Apple fans, who are merely adding to the considerable power already wielded by Cupertino.

The more people a company can rely on to buy its products through thick and thin, the less effort they will put into the development of these products.

 

If you have watched the video above, which shows iPad 3 launch day in Sydney, Australia, and don’t think the behavior on display is in any way strange, then your idea of what’s normal differs from mine. It’s not normal to walk into a store with a suitcase (needed for the days spent camping out front), to cheer that you’re one of the first in, and to be applauded by the staff of said store as if you have just saved a child from drowning.

There Is More To Life

Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion] Apple Queue

Surely there is more to life than standing (or sitting, or lying) in line for an iPad, the latest Android smartphones, or version of Windows. Or any other piece of consumer technology for that matter. Queuing is an inevitable and unavoidable part of life, but there’s a vast difference between spending 10 minutes queuing to buy food or to pay a bill, and spending three days queuing to buy a luxury item that many want but few need.

I assume people who queue to be one of the first to buy the latest iDevice or a new games console want to be a part of something. An event. A happening. Which implies they have something essential missing from their lives. We all have hobbies that others find bizarre, but can queuing for a new piece of hardware really be considered a special interest?

Conclusions

Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion] Queue Start Here

I don’t hate people who queue up for the latest gadgets. Far from it. But I do regard them as a little strange, and I don’t understand their fascination with having to be the first to own the gadget du jour. If we can help them to stop wasting any more hours of their life doing something totally and utterly without merit then that would surely be a good thing for them and society as a whole.

There is no reason to queue like some of the most-fervent fans of specific companies do. If we all adopted a similar outlook on life as these individuals – a need to be fast, first, and full of it – then nothing of note would ever get done. Thankfully most of the world is a little more grounded than the small minority who take part in these celebrations of consumer avarice.

As always the floor is now yours. Please feel free to share your opinions on those who queue for the latest gadgets, whether you agree with my position on the phenomenon or not.

Image Credits: Kevan Davis, Josh Smith, William Brawley, Eric Wustenhagen, rq?, Amanda Kelso

A Beginner’s Guide To Google Duo And Google Allo

Google has so many apps, services, and projects that it’s sometimes hard to get your head around the infinite number of choices available. And while Hangouts was once its premier messaging app, the company added to its repertoire in late 2016 with the release of Allo and Duo.

These two apps serve different functions, but are both handy to have at your disposal. So let’s discuss what both Duo and Allo do and how to start using them!

Google Duo

Google Duo is a straightforward video-calling app, and serves as the closest alternative to FaceTime for Android. While Hangouts supports video calling as well, Google has replaced it with Duo as the default video chat app on Android. Further, Duo only support one-on-one chats, so there’s no group calling here.

Duo is mobile-only, so while you can talk with other Android or iOS users, there’s no app for calling on your computer. Because of this, your Duo login is tied to your phone number, not your Google account. This makes signing into Duo simple, and you don’t have to know someone’s email address to get ahold of them.

One tap on any of your contacts starts a video call. You can also make audio-only calls if you’d prefer not to show your face. On Pixel, Nexus, and Android One devices, Duo also hooks into the Phone, Contacts, and Messages apps, so you can make video calls from other places on your phone.

The only real standout feature of Duo is “Knock Knock,” which lets you see a live preview of the person calling you before you accept the call. Google says this is “[t]o make calls feel more like an invitation rather than an interruption” and gives you an idea of what someone wants before you start talking.

That’s really all there is to it; Google didn’t add many frills to Duo. It’s optimized for low-quality networks and switches between Wi-Fi and mobile data automatically, so you shouldn’t experience many interruptions. It also protects calls with end-to-end encryption.

Download: Google Duo for Android | iOS (Free)

Getting Started With Duo

Download the Google Duo app for Android (it may already be pre-installed) or iOS, then pop it open. Provide your phone number, then you’ll receive a verification code via SMS. Grant the app permission to access your contacts and microphone/camera, then you’re all set to go.

You’ll see suggested contacts on Duo’s home page, along with a live preview of your phone’s front camera. Tap the slider to switch between video and audio calls. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen or tap Contacts to see who’s on Duo.

Google Duo Contacts

You’ll see all your contacts who have Duo installed first. Tap one to start a call. If you scroll past those who use Duo, you’ll see an Invite to Duo section where you can send your friends a message asking them to download the app. You can even call Android users who don’t have the app installed.

When you receive a Duo call, swipe up to answer it or swipe down to decline. During a call, you can use the Mute button to mute your microphone, and the Camera button to swap between your front and rear cameras.

Finally, tap the three-dot Menu button in Duo to access a few options. You can disable vibration for incoming calls, turn off “Knock Knock,” or let the app use high-quality video even if you’re on mobile data.

Google Duo Settings

Google Allo

While Duo is for video calling, Allo is an instant messaging app. Why use it when WhatsApp and Telegram, and other options are so popular? Google has a few tricks that it hopes to entice you with.

One of the big draws of Allo is the Smart Reply feature. As you use the app, it learns about your personality and typical responses. Then, when someone sends you a message, you’ll see bubbles at the bottom of the screen that let you reply instantly. These are better than canned messages, though, because they’re based on context.

Another standout feature in Allo is Google Assistant’s integration. You can summon the same Assistant that answers your questions on Android anytime in your chats. Just type @google and you can ask it for directions, information, and anything else you can think of. Allo also includes a dedicated chat with Assistant you can talk to anytime.

Aside from the major features, Allo features a few other perks. Interestingly, you can adjust the size of your messages. Typing in all caps is annoying, so you can slide the Send icon up or down to scale the size of your message text. This lets you “whisper” or “shout” through text.

Allo also lets you doodle on photos when you share them. It also has plenty of stickers to check out. And the Incognito chat feature provides private notifications, encrypted chat, and the ability to have messages expire after a set time.

Download: Google Allo for Android | iOS | (Free)

Getting Started With Allo

Install the app, then you’ll need to enter your phone number. You’ll then see a prompt to connect your Google account, which lets you link your existing Google profile info for Google Assistant. Add your name and profile picture, then the app might ask you to invite some of your contacts to Allo. Tap Skip to move on, and you’ll see your chat inbox.

Google Allo Home and Stickers

Tap Start chat to begin a new message. Like Duo, you’ll see a list of people who use Allo first, under Allo contacts. Select one person and then Done for a one-on-one chat, or multiple people (up to 256) for a group chat. If you select Start incognito chat, you can then select one or more folks to talk with incognito.

Once in a chat, you’ll find most of the usual options for sending content above the text field. Tap the icons to send pictures, stickers, GIFs, or share your location. Type @google and then a command for Google Assistant to help you out with.

Google Allo Chatting

If you want, you can also use Allo on the web. But you’ll have to link the app on your Android or iOS device to do so.

Google Allo and Duo: A Great Messaging Combination

Like any messaging apps, whether you use Allo and Duo likely comes down to how many of your friends use them. If everyone you know sticks with Skype, WhatsApp, or another app, you might not get might mileage out of Google’s offerings.

While Duo is a dead-simple video calling experience that’s quite handy, you may have some privacy concerns about Allo. Inviting Google into your private chats is a step we imagine some people won’t be comfortable with, so you may prefer to use a secure messaging app instead.

5 Tips To Block Politics From Your Facebook Timeline

Most of the time, Facebook is a lovely place filled with silly cat videos, bad selfies, and an occasional rant about bad drivers. But every four years in the United States, the election comes along to completely and totally transform Facebook into a virtual nightmare.

It doesn’t matter what your political leanings are, you’re almost guaranteed to read something on Facebook during the election season that’ll boil your blood and get you sliding the mouse toward that “Unfriend” button. I should know, I’ve done it several times during this election year already.

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It isn’t so much that we’re all not guilty of doing it ourselves, but having to endure so much of the opposing viewpoint every day wears down on the nerves and makes Facebook far less enjoyable than it normally is. So I’m happy to say that if you’ve found yourself in this same situation, there are a number of different things you can do to dramatically improve your Facebook news feed. Here’s how to block political posts on Facebook.

1. Hide Political Posts On Facebook

The easiest thing you can do right now, without installing anything on your computer or your browser, is just to make a habit of telling Facebook what kind of posts you don’t like to see. If you didn’t know you could do this, you’ve got to check it out — it’s an awesome feature.

Every time you see a political post that you don’t like in your news feed, click the down-arrow on the upper right corner of the post. You’ll see two important options — “Hide post”, or “Unfollow….”

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The “Hide post” option is a less drastic measure. Facebook takes the fact that you’ve said you don’t like this type of content into account when it formulates which posts to show you.

The “Unfollow….” option is more of a “nuclear” option. This is a good choice if you’re seeing a post from some organization you don’t like and you don’t want to see any more posts from it. However, if you choose this option for one of your friends who posted something you didn’t like, then you’ll never see any of that person’s posts again, because you’ve unfollowed them! So, “Unfollow” with care, but use the “Hide post” option to your hearts content.

Also, when you do this, you’ll likely see the option to edit your News Feed Preferences. If you haven’t done this yet, you should do it immediately!

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Here’s why — when you click on Prioritize Who to See First, you can star every friend or group who is of the utmost importance to you.

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If you’re annoyed that you can never see their posts, and you always see posts from people or groups who you really don’t care about, it’s probably because you haven’t done this yet. Do it!

If you only take a single piece of advice from this article, I hope this one is it because it can dramatically improve your Facebook news feed over time.

2. Leave Groups

Full disclosure: During the political primaries in the United States, I was a die-hard fan of a certain candidate. I’m sure that I lost a number of friends on Facebook because of how frequently I promoted this person there. Unfortunately, because I joined so many Facebook groups for this candidate, now Facebook thinks I’m an uber-political person, so my news feed is inundated with propaganda from all sorts of organizations — none of which I want to see on my Facebook feed!

If you have forgotten which groups you’ve joined, just click on the Home link at the top of the Facebook page, and look down the left navigation bar until you see the “Groups” section.

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When you hover your mouse over that group, you’ll see a gear show up on the left. Click on it and you’ll see the option to leave the group.

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Or if you don’t want to leave the group, but you’d rather not have your Facebook news feed overrun with highlights from that group, just click Edit Settings, and turn off notifications — or only show notifications when your own Facebook friends have posted in the group.

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You’ll be surprised how just a few small changes like this can dramatically clean up your Facebook news feed of political posts (or any kind of group posts) that you don’t want to see.

3. Create Friend Lists

So, let’s say your situation is a little bit different. Maybe you haven’t joined any political groups at all, but you just have a number of friends who are painfully political and that’s all they post about. You don’t really want to block them from showing up in your news feed, because you like them, but you’re just tired of seeing all their political posts!

One approach to handling the political season on Facebook but staying sane, is actually creating a Friends List of all of your friends who are 100% non-political. This way you’ll have a way to see what’s going on with everyone, sans the politics. Sounds like heaven, right? Here’s how you do it. In the same left navigation bar that Groups was in, just below it you’ll see a Friends section. Click on the More link next to it.

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On the next page, click on the “Create List” button.

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In the pop-up window you’ll be able to name the list and add whatever friends you want to be part of it. Don’t worry if you miss anyone, because you’ll be able to add or remove anyone from the list whenever you want.

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Now all you have to do is click on your Friends list and you’ll see all the lovely updates you want, without all of the annoying political (or other) posts that you don’t!

For me, the Friends List feature works wonderfully, because sometimes I’m just in the mood to socialize with certain groups of friends — such as all of my friends from MakeUseOf — and the Friends List lets me do just that, without all of the other noise and distraction that comes along with the usual Facebook experience.

4. Politicians to Poop

If you really hate politics and you have a strange sense of humor, you will want to take a look at Politicians to Poop.

Yes, ever since the poop emoji became a thing, it’s been used everywhere to express disdain for all annoying or distasteful topics. So of course it’s only a matter of time before someone would create a Politicians to Poop Chrome extension — because what’s more distasteful than politics?

This is probably one of the easier Chrome extensions to use for the purpose of filtering politics. You don’t even have to fill in any keyword lists. All you have to do is select which political party you want to replace with the poop emoji.

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Now, every time you see a political post on Facebook, instead of frowning, you’ll end up laughing. Now that’s one way to make the political season fun!

And it works really well! As you can see below, the extension is even careful to make sure not to mess with proper punctuation when replacing text with poop emoji.

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And if you really, really hate all politics and dislike pretty much every political party out there, I highly recommend that you fully enable to app to filter out everything. As you can see below, it makes your Facebook news feed a lot more fun to scroll through.

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And, I gotta be honest, what other American election year has the poop emoji ever been more apt?

5. FB Purity

If you aren’t really into simplicity, and prefer a Chrome extension that lets you filter everything but the kitchen sink, then the FB Purity extension, which is one of the best ways to transform Facebook, is definitely a top pick.

Honestly, I’m still finding new ways to customize and filter Facebook with this app. It’s crazy how many settings you can fiddle with.

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The key one for the purpose of filtering out political posts though, is the Text Filter off to the right of the main options page. Here you’ll just list all of the names and topics you want to see stripped completely out of your Facebook newsfeed.
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I have to say, of all of the Chrome extensions I’ve tested, this one is the ultimate when it comes to stripping the news feed of topics you don’t want to see. It’s really amazing. With just the list above, my highly politically-charged news feed suddenly became a wonderful stream of family and friends sharing their personal moments — just like it was long before this horrible political season ever started.

There were a few minor hiccups though. The extension is great at filtering text posts that mention the political keywords you want to drop, but not so good when someone posts one of those picture-posts that contain the text. The extension can’t filter text from photos!

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Still, for the most part it works like a dream and will dramatically clean up your Facebook news feed, and make Facebook an enjoyable place to visit again.

Don’t Leave Facebook, Filter It!

It can be very tempting, especially during an election year, to take the “nuclear option” and unfollow, block, or even unfriend people you know on Facebook. While this can offer some short-term relief from the frustration of reading political views that make you angry, it can also have long-term effects that aren’t so helpful.

Instead, help yourself ignore those posts by completely filtering them from your feed. Any of the approaches above will help you do that, and you’ll never have to worry about politics intruding with your Facebook experience again. Now, wouldn’t that be nice?

What is your frustration level with politics on Facebook? Have you ever opted for the “nuclear option”? Would you consider any of the alternatives listed here? Share your thoughts in the comments section above!

Image Credits: CREATISTA/Shutterstock

The 6 Best Places To Design Your Own Facebook Timeline Cover For Free

Although Facebook’s timeline cover photos created an uproar when first introduced, they are here to stay.

If you’ve failed to create an enticing cover photo for yourself or your Facebook Page, don’t worry. It’s never too late to start.

Lots of people use a photo of themselves or cool snap they took, but it can be any image you like. It could include multiple photos, your name, your logo, graphics, or almost anything else you can think of.

If you want to “wow” the visitors to your profile or page, you might need some help. In this article, we’re going to introduce you to six web apps for creating a unique timeline cover picture for free.

1. Timeline Cover Banner

Timeline Cover Banner provides a vast library of backgrounds for you to choose from, but also lets you design a timeline cover using your own images.

You can upload your own background and photos and arrange them exactly as you want them. You can also add text, shapes, drawings, and play with your photos’ saturation, brightness, and contrast. Additionally, the app includes a tool that lets you seamlessly integrate your profile picture into the cover photo.

The 6 Best Places To Design Your Own Facebook Timeline Cover For Free timeline cover 577x500

When you’re done, the app will let save the Facebook timeline cover and profile picture as PNG files, which you can then manually upload to your Facebook profile. This is a useful feature – it means you don’t have to grant the app permission to access your Facebook account.

(Note: The web app requires Adobe Flash to run.)

2. Canva

Canva is a free-to-use app, but you’ll need to make an account with the company to use it.

Using the app is easy. To begin, log into your account and select Facebook Cover from the list of design types.

For a quick solution, select one of the professionally designed layouts. There are a couple of hundred to choose from.

The 6 Best Places To Design Your Own Facebook Timeline Cover For Free canva

For a more personal touch, you can either upload your own photos or choose from Canva’s library of more than a million stock images. When you’re happy with the picture, you can add effects and filters.

As you’d expect, the app also offers a wide variety of fonts (more than 130), and the color of the graphics and text is fully customizable.

3. InstaCover

If you’re an Instagram addict, this one is for you. InstaCover lets you create a timeline cover photo out of either your own or other people’s Instagram photos.

The interface is simple and surprisingly versatile. You can decide to include only photos from a single user, photos that meet a specific category or a particular tag, or just mix up random photos from across the social network.

The 6 Best Places To Design Your Own Facebook Timeline Cover For Free instacover 1 670x328

Once you’ve picked your photos, you can choose between different layouts, change the background and text colors, and choose to include dates and number of likes for each photo.

When you’ve finished your masterpiece, click on Preview and see if you like the results. If you do, you can upload it straight to Facebook. Unfortunately, the app requires access to your Facebook account.

4. Fotor Facebook Cover Maker

Keen photographers and digital creatives will already know about Fotor. It’s one of the best web-based image editors out there.

However, many people might not realize that Fotor also offers a wonderful Facebook cover image tool.

To get started, open Fotor Design (you’ll need to make an account first) and select Facebook Cover from the list of templates. As with the other tools we’ve discussed, you can either use one of the pre-made templates or drag-and-drop your own photos. You can also start with a blank canvas and build up your image from scratch.

The 6 Best Places To Design Your Own Facebook Timeline Cover For Free fodor 670x394

The templates on Fodor are particularly attractive due to their themes. For example, you can find an Easter- or Father’s Day-specific template that you only use for a short period.

When you’ve finished tweaking, check out the preview to make sure you’re happy with the results, then save it.

5. MyFBCovers

MyFBCovers is not as complex as some of the other tools we’ve discussed.

It provides lots of ready-made covers which you can use without editing them. Use the list of categories on the left-hand side to find something you like. Categories cover everything from nature and animals to celebrities and TV shows.

The 6 Best Places To Design Your Own Facebook Timeline Cover For Free myfbcovers 1 670x379

When you’ve found something you want, click on the image and select Click Here to Make This Your Cover.

The app will upload the new cover to your Facebook account. For that, it needs access to your account.

6. PicScatter

PicScatter is an easy-to-use collage tool which can do a lot more than just create Facebook cover photos.

The free version lets you fill a collage with photos of your Facebook friends, photos you’ve Liked, or photos from one of your Facebook photo albums. You can give the collage a title, which will appear in white on black on the collage, along with the small PicScatter branding which is mandatory with the free version.

The 6 Best Places To Design Your Own Facebook Timeline Cover For Free picscatter

When you’re done, download the cover as a PNG file and upload it to your Facebook account. The app requires access to your profile to pull Facebook photos into the app, but it won’t post on your behalf.

Which Free Online Tools Do You Use?

Each of the six tools we have introduced you to serves a different purpose. Whether you want to use Instagram snaps, existing Facebook photos, or just start a new cover image from scratch, one of the tools will definitely meet your needs.

Now it’s your turn to add your recommendations to this list. Which online tools and web apps do you use to design a Facebook timeline cover for free? What makes the tool so unique?

As always, you can leave all your tips and suggestions in the comments below. And remember to share this article with your Facebook friends to help them design a stunning cover image too.

Originally written by Yaara Lancet on 17th April 2012

Image Credit: photocreo/Depositphotos

 

5 Sites And 7 Rules To Craft More Engaging Facebook Content

Whether we’re updating our personal Facebook profile, company page, or Facebook group, starting a dialogue and encouraging engagement is usually at the forefront of our minds. Despite that, a majority of Facebook posts go largely unnoticed. Why?

By the end of this post, you’ll hopefully have a better understanding of what makes a Facebook post engaging, and where to find content that’s interesting, entertaining, and of high enough quality to publish to your audience.

What Makes Facebook Content Engaging?

Before we look at how to find interesting content to post, it’s important to realize what actually goes into crafting an engaging status update. Whenever my team posts to our clients’ Facebook pages, we work with the DRAVITI acronym. This stands for:

Data-Rich
Include stats, data and hard edivence. Readers can quickly absorb this information and many figures can often be used for ‘shock and awe’.

Relevant
Make sure whatever you post is relevant to the audience and what they’ll be interested in at the time of posting.

Amusing
In the words of the Joker, ‘Why. So. Serious?’. Unless you’re a funeral director, don’t be afraid to show a bit of light-heartedness. Have a laugh and a joke with your audience. Build some rapport.

Visual
Photos and graphics can have a huge impact on the amount of interaction you receive. Make the most of this!

Informal
Make sure you don’t make people feel like they need to be wearing a shirt-and-tie to be on your Facebook page. Let them enter wearing flipflops while holding a can of cheap beer.

Thoughtful
Say something worthwhile. Have an opinion. Think before you hit ‘Post’.

Insightful
Try to make your readers have as many ‘aha!’ moments as possible.

Of course, it’d be impossible for every post to tick each one of these boxes, but I suggest trying to make sure that each post ticks at least three.

Where Can I Find Engaging Content?

Now that you know what goes into an engaging Facebook post, you need to be able to routinely find content that can tick these boxes time and time again.

In an ideal world, you’ll have a steady stream of data-rich, relevant, amusing, visual, informal, thoughtful and insightful content that you can easily schedule using Buffer or another similar service. These five resources should help you keep your timeline stocked up with fascinating content that people can’t wait to engage with.

Prismatic

Facebook Posts 1

Prismatic is the perfect alternative to Flipboard, acting as an aggregator of quality, engaging content from around the Web. Type in a broad keyword (in this example, ‘Social Media’), and hit enter.  I’ve been choosing Prismatic over a standard RSS reader such as Feedly as it not only saves time on manually creating content feeds, but also introduces you to new, highly relevant websites that you might not otherwise have discovered.

The sharing options aren’t great (Twitter, Facebook and Email), but if you run the Buffer or Hootsuite browser extensions to schedule posts in advance, this shouldn’t pose a problem.

You can quickly browse different articles by hitting the ‘down’ arrow on your keyboard, until you find an interesting and relevant headline and teaser paragraph, then use the acronym above to craft an engaging post relating to the content that you’ve found.

Pinterest

Facebook Posts 2

Since Pinterest’s new design, it’s become easier than ever to find visually oriented content to share with your audience. Include the word ‘infographic’ along with your search term, and you’ll find tons of data-rich content that you can pull stats and figures from to fascinate and shock your readers.

Goodreads

Facebook Posts 3

You won’t find many articles on this subject recommending Goodreads for finding engaging content, but do a quick search of any published book that you love (or which will resonate with your audience) and check out the reviews.  You’ll notice that the reviews on Goodreads are second-to-none, often written by individuals who actually know what they’re talking about, and who care about the subject. A real rarity on the Web, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Reading a few of these reviews will give you some new, thoughtful insights into a certain topic which you can share with your readers, hopefully encouraging them to engage with the conversation, too.

BrainyQuote

Facebook Posts 4

We all know that quotes from famous and wise folks always grab attention. If I were to say to you now ‘Don’t give up, keep going!’ you’d likely take not one jot of notice. Whereas, if I said ‘Muhammad Ali once said “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”‘, you’d be much more likely to take it to heart.

In order to find quotes on a huge array of subjects, my first port of call is always BrainyQuote. One option is to simply post the quote onto your Facebook wall. The other option is to turn the quote into a graphic (you could use the new, free graphic design platform, Canva for this), which will often encourage even more interaction.

Do Something!

Facebook posts 5

Stop scouring the Internet, and get out and about. Go into the countryside. Attend a conference. Have coffee with someone you admire. Step outside of your comfort zone. By keeping yourself busy and actually doing things, you’ll have plenty of content to share. Take pictures and share your stories. By telling people more about you rather than about what other people are saying, writing or doing, your audience will be far more willing to engage with you on Facebook.

Conclusion

Rather than relying on social media, Google or RSS readers to offer you interesting content day in, day out, try a few of the ideas above. Once you’ve found something interesting, I urge you not to simply copy and paste the title. Spend some time crafting content that ticks at least three of the DRAVITI principles mentioned at the start of the article, and you should see engagement and interaction on your Facebook page or profile increase nicely!

Where else do you find interesting and engaging content to share with your readers?

Image Credits: Like by Luca Sartoni via Flickr, Landscape by Moyan Brenn via Flickr