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5 of the Biggest Facebook Mistakes and How to Fix Them

by Natasha Stokes on August 22, 2014

The world's biggest social network turned 10 this year. With 57% of the American population — and 73% of teenagers — among its user base, Facebook has morphed from a way for college undergrads to communicate to a multi-tentacled service that has become an integral part of our everyday life. From connecting us with long-lost friends to serving as the internet's de facto photo-sharing service to doubling as a universal login to thousands of sites and apps across the internet.

But with regular introductions of privacy-flouting new features and different sets of etiquette for connecting with colleagues, friends, and family, it can be all too easy to make a Facebook misstep that sends the wrong message into the world.

Below are five of the most-common Facebook faux pas – and how to avoid them.

1. Not putting a professional face forward

If you haven't been keeping an eye on your privacy settings, photos and posts intended for friends can end up on your boss's newsfeed. A CareerBuilder study found that nearly 39% of employers use social media to screen job candidates, and a 2012 report from technology research company Gartner predicted that by 2015, 60% of employers will be monitoring employees on social networks.

If your boss is your Facebook friend, you can prevent him or her from seeing what you post by going to Settings > Privacy > “Who can see my future posts”, selecting “Custom” from the dropdown menu and add their names. To keep them from seeing posts and photos you're tagged in, go to Settings > Timeline and tagging > “Who can see things on my timeline,” select Custom from the dropdown menu, and add their names.

If your boss or potential employer isn't your Facebook friend, simply go to Settings > Privacy then select “Friends only” as the audience for “Who can see my future posts” and “Limit past posts.” On the same page, you can also edit who can look you up — public, friends of friends, or friends only — and disable Google and other search engines from linking to your Facebook profile.

Finally, you can create a Restricted list — anyone on this list can only see the information and posts you make public. This can be an effective way to avoid looking suspiciously absent from Facebook, without giving up too much information. Head to Settings > Blocking, and edit “Restricted List.”

In all cases, if you and your boss have mutual friends, he or she will still be able to view any posts or photos you may be tagged in with those friends.

2. Oversharing, oversharing, oversharing

We've all done it, but now there’s proof that oversharing is the easiest way to get unfriended on Facebook. A study by Christopher Sibona at the University of Colorado Denver found that the top four reasons people delete friends are because their posts are frequent or trivial posts, polarizing, inappropriate, or too mundane.

“Share things that are meaningful, witty, newsy or interesting — and be discriminating in how often you post on Facebook,” recommends Jessica Kleiman, a communications specialist and co-author of the book Be Your Own Best Publicist.

Still, that doesn't mean there isn't an audience for that polemic on national politics (or what you had for breakfast). If there are particular people you think would appreciate more controversial — or more mundane — statuses, you can customize the audience for individual posts. Below the status box, click the tab next to “Post” and select Custom to bring up options for “Who Should See this?.” You can then select a specific audience such as Close Friends, or a custom list (if you made one), say for your sports league. You can also select Custom and manually enter friends that can or can't view the post. You can make this setting your default to avoid future oversharing.

However, Kleiman cautions, “even if you use filters on Facebook to keep your posts only visible by ‘friends,’ one of your 850 closest friends online is probably friends with someone you wouldn't want to see that post.”

3. Allowing Facebook apps to overshare for you

Along with posts about that ham and cheese toastie you were eating, oversharing may take the form of posts by apps you've linked to Facebook.

Privacy protection company found that 63% of apps request the ability to post on the user's behalf. While giving this permission may allow your info to be shared where it shouldn't, more irking is the fact that, say, Spotify can post what ‘80s pop ballad you're listening to, or Candy Crush Saga can update all your friends on your progress.

You can allow or disallow third-party apps to post to Facebook when signing up, but if you didn't do that, you can edit all permissions from a single page. Select Activity Log from the top right dropdown menu on your profile or news feed, then All Apps (on the left) to view posts made by apps.

To prevent individual apps from posting, hit More (under All Apps), scroll to the offending app, then click the top-right arrow to customize where the app can post to on your behalf — certain friends, all friends, or not at all. You can also tweak the audience for each post by clicking its lock icon. Click the neighboring pen icon to remove the post from your Timeline, mark it as spam, or delete the app from your Facebook profile entirely.

4. Allowing others to post content about you that you don’t like

A Pew Research Center survey found that one of the aspects users most disliked about Facebook was that friends can post personal content, such as photos, about a user without his or her permission.

If you've been tagged in an unflattering photo, you can remove the tag by clicking on the photo, hovering over its base, and selecting Options / Remove Tag, so that the picture will not turn up in “Photos of You.” To stop it from appearing on your profile page, you must separately toggle “Allow on timeline” to “Hide from Timeline” in the top-right of the window. However, the photo can still be viewed in other people's news feeds and the poster's albums page, so if you abhor the picture, contact your so-called friend and ask them to take it down.

You can also disable certain — or all — people from posting on your Timeline. Go to Settings > Timeline and Tagging > “Who can add things to my timeline” and select “Only Me.” *(Friends will still be able to view your Timeline.)

To block particular people, head to Settings > Blocking, and add the names to the Restricted list. Then go to Settings > Timeline and Tagging > “Who can add things to my timeline,” and select “Friends.” Friends on the restricted list won't be able to post on your Timeline, or view it unless you have set it to be public.

5. Being resigned to a boring news feed

Does it feel like you're reading more and more posts from friends you don't really care about? You're probably not imagining it. In December, Facebook updated its newsfeed algorithm to push up posts with links and push down memes. Links with more comments were also favored. Stories that show up are also influenced by which friends you interact with the most.

Meanwhile, a Stanford University study found that user posts that aren't liked or commented on tend to be viewed by fewer people, so you may find that your college buddy's engagement announcement floats to the top of your feed, while your best friend's gripe about the cost of daycare is nowhere to be seen.

To get around this, head to your feed, click on “News Feed” in the top left, and toggle the option to show Most Recent instead of Top Stories. To ensure particular friends' posts pop up on your feed, add them to your Close Friends list. On your news feed, scroll down the left-hand menu, hover over Friends and click More > Close friends, then add their names in the right-side text bar. Hit Manage List in the top right to select the particular types of updates you get — for example, photos and status updates, but not games or comments.

If someone's status updates are getting on your nerves, but you're not quite ready to unfriend them, you can unsubscribe from their updates entirely by clicking in the top right of the offending status in your news feed, then selecting “Hide All.”

[astonished woman with laptop image via Shutterstock]


Facebook, Computers and Software, Tips & How-Tos

Discussion loading


From Shady Character on August 22, 2014 :: 2:08 pm

Facebook, in its very concept, is pervasive, intrusive, and exploitative.  The best way to avoid being its victim is to shun it from the get-go or, if it’s too late for that, flee from it.



From Kathy on August 27, 2014 :: 10:16 am

I find I use Facebook less and less as time goes by. I am tired of the posts from my family and friends disappearing and instead getting news links I don’t want. The only reason I got Facebook in the first place was to keep in touch with my far-flung family.
There is NOTHING on my page that indicates where I work, my page is set to ‘Friends Only’ and Washington State doesn’t allow employers to check your page, anyway.
Still, I find myself using G+ more than FB lately.



From bev on September 24, 2014 :: 5:49 pm

interestingly enough, I think everyone makes inane comments all the time on FB, and for that matter every other platform that is plugged into the public space. I mean the “journalist” here is tweeting about parties that are filled of white bourgeois London coke snorting people she attends. How banal is that!? The point is, we all need a bit of editing here and there but there are always people that love to massage there own egos and post things that are always going to be questionable…... the sad part is - what for?



From Ettore Lacchei on September 12, 2016 :: 11:23 am

On my Timeline Friends show 47 but on my Friends list there are only 46.
Facebook has not helped after several complaints.
Cannot find any help on the Web. On my Friends Timeline Friends has no friends showing or it tells you how many friends we have in common.
I do believe that I have a HACKER HIDING.
Can you help???
Right now I have closed Facebook but I do access it to see if this problem has been fixed. No luck up to now.
Thank you
September 12-2016



From Barbara Savely Fuller on February 11, 2017 :: 12:07 pm

I accidentally blocked a friend on FB, so how do I unblock them without them knowing?



From Nina Warner on January 01, 2018 :: 2:01 pm

I have more than 1 FB page and I would like to merge 2 of them. Mother pages have been created too but I can’t delete them w/o deleting my Acct!! A few friends though I was hacked and unfriendly me!! How do I readd them as friends and correct my FB problem??? Unfortunately I need precise instructions at the age of 64!!! Thanks for your help!!!!!



From Josh Kirschner on January 02, 2018 :: 11:46 am

I’m not clear how you set up multiple Facebook pages for yourself unless you used different emails for each one. But that’s generally a no-no Facebook, and there’s no way to merge those into one. The only way to correct this is to manually reach back out to friends to let them know that your remaining account is your real account and have them re-friend you on that account. Then download information for your secondary account (if there’s stuff you don’t want to lose) and delete it.




From facebook831357750345189 on May 19, 2017 :: 9:38 am

Hi my husband can’t see anything on his timeline we have checked privacy when you click on Facebook app it starts to pad but then says can’t be loaded can anyone help



From Diane on July 21, 2017 :: 3:09 pm

I’m pretty much fed up with facebook NOT logging me out even when I do.  And after I back space delete my login name.  I have messaged them to not continue to do this; yet it is ongoing.  Most of my friends are on FB; but many of us (me) don’t share much if any personal info.
What’s a better social media website for someone who does not live on one?  Please advise.



From Josh Kirschner on July 24, 2017 :: 3:59 pm

Hi Diane,

Can you clarify what the issue is yo’re trying to resolve? Once you log out of Facebook you should remain logged out. If you go back to the login page are your seeing your email already filled in? If that is the issue, then that is an autofill setting on your browser, not Facebook keeping you logged in.

“Better” depends on what you’re looking to get out of the social media platform. At it’s heart, any social network is about being “social”. If you don’t want to share information, social sites probably aren’t for you. However, if you would like to share info privately with a group of friends, you can create private groups on Facebook or limit you post privacy on Facebook to share just with those friends you want to see your content.



From Diane Wilson on July 24, 2017 :: 5:25 pm

Thanks for your response Josh. I enjoy the contacts and various other things but do not get overly personal.  AND based upon personal free time; I’m busy like everyone else.
Usually use firefox browser for fb. open a separate window and logoff at the end of each session.  Days later after not signing in at FB I can open up a FB e-mail notification in my yahoo acct about whatever, click the link and I’m signed in at FB already.
I have sent a message to FB to no avail. Fortunately I have PC Matic on my computers and my android cell phone to prevent truly bad stuff from happening to my system. FB does have a habit of not respecting people’s privacy.



From Josh Kirschner on July 24, 2017 :: 5:33 pm

Trying to narrow down what might be occurring…When you log out of Facebook, you’re actually logging out in Facebook itself (clicking the drop down menu in Facebook and hitting “Log Out”), not just closing the Firefox window?


From Diane Wilson on July 24, 2017 :: 5:44 pm

Hi Josh!  Yes.  I do the dropdown arrow to log out.  Then to follow-up I close that entire window out.  Then go back into yahoo mail (a separate window) then open a new window to get the fb login spot to make sure it has nothing typed into the user name section or the pw section. That’s why it’s puzzling to me as to how FB auto logs on in the background with no dedicated window open at the time in fb. I am rarely on fb all day, everyday, or all night. always run a PC Matic at the end of a night session just to clear cache, cookies, etc. Thanks!



From Josh Kirschner on July 24, 2017 :: 6:58 pm

I’ve come up empty trying to figure it out. Facebook used to have an Auto Login feature, but that has been gone for some time. Perhaps someone else reading this has an answer for you.



From Diane on July 25, 2017 :: 12:54 am

Thank you Josh. Not worth losing sleep over.  Many of my friends are on several other sites as well, so may wind up migrating.
Thank you again.



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