16 Facebook Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner
Features you never knew about, shortcuts to see more of your favorite posts, and more.
More than a social media platform
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning and glare at your bright phone? For many, it’s checking Facebook to see what’s new in the world at large or the world of their friends. It’s second nature, but are there features you don’t know about? Have you figured out how to use Facebook’s “snooze” button on your post-happy friend from college yet?
Facebook, the social media powerhouse, has been around since 2004. If you think all the way back to that mid-2000s era, I’m sure you’ll be impressed (or horrified) by your own personal growth. Facebook has grown too, finding new ways to help, connect, and entertain you. The platform has secret hacks, hidden gems, and surprising tools at your fingertips to get you the most out of your online experience. That is, of course, as long as you avoid these tempting Facebook scams that everyone keeps falling for.
Unfollowing (like unfriending, but without the drama)
Everyone has those few Facebook friends whose posts are always annoying or argumentative or both. You roll your eyes (or worse) every time you run across them and debate cutting them off for your own sake. But if those friends are your real-life friends or relatives, unfriending them could cause some tumult in the real world. Here’s the solution: Click the “person” symbol below your friend’s name, on their page, and select “Unfollow.” You’ll stop seeing their posts, you’ll still be “friends” with them, and their feelings don’t get hurt. Win-win! And here’s how to find out who unfollowed you on Facebook.
Discovering unrequited friendship
Go to the “Friends” section of your profile. On a computer, it should be on the left side of your home page; on a phone, it’ll be close to the top of the “Menu” page. That should take you to “Friend Requests.” You’ll be able to see who sent requests to you, but you can also “View Sent Requests.” On a computer, it should be right under the number of friend requests; on a phone, you may have to click “See All” and then the three dots on the upper right. Once you click “View Sent Requests,” you’ll see who ignored your own friend requests. Sure, it may hurt a bit to know that these people denied your friendship, but it’s their loss. You’re better off without them. Speaking of better off without, here’s why you need to stop taking Facebook quizzes.
Clearing your search history
Every Facebook user makes some searches they’re not proud of, whether it’s an ex’s profile or something not safe for work. But never fear: you can erase all traces of them. Click the downward-pointing arrow in the top right-hand corner of your screen and go to “Activity Log.” From there, click “More” under “Comments” and look for “Search history.” If there’s one particular search you’re less than proud of, search through the chronological entries and click the crossed circle next to one to delete it. Otherwise, you can wipe your slate clean by clicking “Clear searches” at the top of the page. Want to make sure no one can see who’s on your friend list? Here is how to hide your friends on Facebook.
Look out for these signs that you’re sharing too much on Facebook.
Forgetting birthdays (on purpose)
This one is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, we all love to be reminded of your cousin’s birthday so you can send that balloon emoji-filled text and get all the credit you deserve. On the other, we also hate being constantly reminded of the birthdays of long-lost high school acquaintances. While there’s no way to choose whose birthdays you can get notified for, you can turn off all birthday notifications by going into “Settings” (under the upper right-hand arrow), “Notifications,” and then “On Facebook.” That lists everything you get notified for, including groups you’re in, pages you run, and yes, birthdays. If you trust your memory, this might be a game changer. Don’t let the past become harmful—learn how to stop Facebook from showing you old memories.
Prioritizing your favorites
Whether you have 100 Facebook friends or 1,000, you definitely don’t care about every single thing every one of them posts. Thankfully, you can prioritize your close friends that you actually want to hang out with and keep up with. In the “Friends” section of your profile, you’ll see that everyone has a box next to their names that says “Friends.” Click on that and select “Close friends” for the people you truly consider, well, close friends. You’ll be notified whenever those select, lucky few post on Facebook. They’ll also be put on a “Close Friends” list, so you can share things exclusively with them. If you’re altogether done with a bunch of old “friends,” learn how to delete Facebook friends in bulk.
Seeing more of what you love
Mark Zuckerberg never sleeps, and one of his most popular (and constantly changing) algorithms helps you prioritize what shows up first on your newsfeed when you log in. This way, you get more of what you want to see and less of what you don’t. Now you’ll never miss a new Reader’s Digest post. Go to that outlet’s Facebook page, click the “Following” button, and then click “See first.” Now, new posts from that page will appear at the top of your feed. This is what your social media profile really says about you.
Planning ahead, just in case
This one is a sensitive topic, because discussing tragedy, loss, and death is never popular. While Facebook understandably may not be the biggest concern in your end-of-life matters, it’s worth noting that Facebook is trying to help you out beyond your time as an active user. That’s why you can set up a Legacy Contact, someone who can manage your account when you pass away. They won’t be able to post as you (otherwise, people would assume they’re talking to your ghost!), but they can pin a post detailing things like a memorial service, respond to friend requests, and change your profile picture. To choose your Legacy Contact, go to “General Account Settings,” then “Manage Your Account.” You can also request that your account is deleted after you pass. Check out these clear signs to know you’re about to get hacked.
Getting and staying informed
Facebook, believe it or not, might know more about your local government than you do. But don’t worry, the app is learning info to help you learn, connect, and even vote! Go to facebook.com/townhall to see exactly who is your local, state, and federal representatives are, based on your address. You can also opt-in for reminders about upcoming elections to remind you to get out the vote. Find out if you can see who viewed your Facebook profile.
Helping you learn a language
Facebook is used by around 2 billion active users worldwide. That means the app and site need to understand, write, and be available in the languages of all of those users. As of 2020, there are around 101 languages offered by facebook with over 300,000 translators working to keep it running smoothly. If you’re trying to brush up on your language skills, maybe try incorporating it into your social media. Or, if you’re just looking for a little fun, try the “Pirate” and “Upside Down.” Go to “Language” in your “Settings” and edit the question, “What language do you want to use Facebook in?” Use the drop-down to explore the dozens of languages you can choose from. Pro tip: You’ll find Pirate and Upside Down as versions of English. Make sure to avoid all language-related and language-removed online scams with these tips.
Ending auto-play once and for all
Luckily, turning off auto-play only takes a matter of seconds. On your desktop, go to “Settings,” then “Videos,” and change the “Auto-Play Videos” settings from “Default” to “Off.” You can also change this on your mobile app. Tap the three stacked lines in the bottom right corner of the app. iPhone users, scroll down to “Settings,” then “Account Settings,” then “Videos and Photos,” and look for the auto-play option. Android users, tap “App Settings,” then “Autoplay.”
Saving your content for a later date
If you never knew this feature existed, it may forever change the way you use Facebook. Just saying. In the top right corner of every post, you’ll see three dots. Click those dots and choose the first option to save the link/video/post. I’ll copy that link and put it in a folder called “Saved” on the left-hand side of your screen under the Explore category. (This folder only appears after you first save a post.) Now you can read those posts when you have more time and click “Unsave” when you want them gone. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more detailed guide on deleting, check out how to delete photos from Facebook for good.
Taking a trip down memory lane (or single avenue)
Here’s another reason you and your significant other need to be Facebook Official. If you go to facebook.com/us, Facebook will show you the complete Facebook history between you and your boo, including photos, status updates with each other, and other fun memories that capture your love. At least, everything about it that you put online. If you’re not in a relationship, facebook.com/us takes you to the relationship status on your profile, where you are not-so-delicately remind you that you are, in fact, single. Sorry for the rude awakening. Whether you’re single or taken, don’t make these social media mistakes that can ruin your relationships.
Showing you the world
No, seriously. On facebook.com/livemap, you can see Facebook live streams happening in real time all over the world. They show up as blue dots on a map you can zoom in and around on (the bigger the dot, the more people are watching). Hold your mouse over a dot for a preview. It could be a makeup tutorial, a local news channel covering a developing story, or someone who just likes talking to random strangers.
Protecting you from unseen threats
It’s more important than ever to protect your personal information online. Facebook can help you figure out if and when anyone has accessed your account without your knowledge. Go to “Settings,” then “Security and Login.” Under “Where You’re Logged In,” you’ll see a list of the devices where your account is being used and where they’re located. If you see any red flags, like “Device type unknown” or a city you haven’t visited recently (or ever!), click on the three dots in that section and click “Not you?” You’ll be prompted to reset your password, so whoever logged into your account won’t be able to again. This is another reason to stop using Facebook, Twitter, and Google to log in to other accounts.
Discovering hidden messages
“Are you serious?” “People have been trying to contact me this whole time?” “Why have you been hiding this from me, Facebook?!” Whatever your reaction, it’s a whole new world of connections: for better or worse. When you click on the Messenger icon in the top blue bar, you automatically see a record of recent messages. But if you look closely, there’s an option for “Message Requests.” These are messages people you’re not already connected with, but want to connect with you. If you do know the sender, open the chat and click “Accept” to continue the convo. Otherwise, click “Decline” and forget the whole thing ever happened. If you click “See Filtered Requests,” you can see the messages you’ve received that Facebook marks as spam. Why isn’t it called the “Spam Inbox,” you ask? Because that would just be too darn simple. Look out for these signs that you’re actually addicted to Facebook.