Written by Justin Jelinek
It really just seems to be a part of life these days – most of us use Facebook. Whether you’re a FB power user, a grandmother looking at photos of your grandchildren, or something somewhere in between the two it can be difficult to escape Facebook’s clutches.
I am a reluctant Facebook user. I joined begrudgingly, and am continually annoyed with their constant tinkering with privacy settings and inability to remember one simple, tiny preference. I prefer Google+ in every way but it’s been an uphill battle to convince many of my friends and family to switch. So I’m stuck with it. I mostly read Facebook to keep up with my friends and post stupid comments on their statuses. Almost all of my posting happens on G+.
Facebook likes to tout their algorithms for displaying what they show on your news feed. They seem to feel as though they know best what is of interest to each and every one of their users. Some people might even agree – I can not imagine a power user with thousands of contacts would really be interested in the daily minutiae of all of those people. I have a much more modest number of friends on Facebook and prefer to have a simple listing of everything that they post in chronological order. Facebook goes to great lengths to try and forget that I prefer this option.
Just over a year ago I was reminded exactly why I do not trust Facebook’s algorithms. My wife and I were in Chicago for a few days and I pretty much ignored Facebook on my phone. In the evenings I would try to catch up on anything I might have missed, but after a few long days I was not thinking about changing my news feed settings. I just went ahead and let Facebook show me what it thought I should see.
A week or two later, I saw a post from a friend of mine from college. Out of context it did not make a lot of sense, but the overall gist was that they would be deleting their account because of a recent event. Scrolling back through their news feed the picture started to become clear. I’m obviously being vague to protect my friend’s privacy, but suffice to say that one of the worst things you could possibly imagine had happened.
I could not believe what I was reading. I was wondering how I could have possibly missed their posts. I was afraid that I would not be able to lend my support because although I do consider this person to be my friend, I did not have any contact with them outside of Facebook at the time. After digging a bit deeper I realized what had happened. My friend’s original post was from one of the days that my wife and I were in Chicago. Facebook decided that it was not important enough to show it to me.
I was livid. I thought about deleting my FB account or complaining to anyone that would listen. In the end I realized that neither of those actions were likely to result in anything positive. So instead I started looking for other options.
I was quickly drawn to a Chrome extension called Social Fixer. Available for nearly all browsers, Social Fixer was a revelation for me! Among its many features, Social Fixer allowed me to automatically display “Most Recent” statuses instead of “Top Stories.” I would always see everything my friends posted – in the order it was actually posted! Crazy, right? I probably would have been happy if that were the only functionality it offered, but Social Fixer’s features are vast:
– Tabbed News Feed – Things like Instagram photos, YouTube videos, and games are automatically moved to their own separate tab to be viewed later (or ignored completely).
– Themes – Change the look and feel of your News Feed.
– Feed Filters – A simply dizzying amount of options to sort, hide, etc.
– Friend Tracker – See when anyone un-friend’s you, and many more.
Several weeks ago, Social Fixer’s Facebook page was taken down without any warning. The original reason given was Spam, though as the developer – Matt Kruse – explains in his blog post, it was not really quite as simple as that. Facebook only has a limited number of categories that reports can be sorted into and spam seemed the most relevant. After finally talking to a representative of Facebook, Mr. Kruse was told that his page was taken down because it promoted something that they believed violated their Terms of Service. Mr. Kruse obviously disagrees, but in order to avoid any potential legal ramifications he has decided to comply. This means that many of the great features listed above will no longer exist.
In some ways, I can understand Facebook’s rationale. Social Fixer allows you to remove ads and promoted posts from your news feed. If that was all Mr. Kruse was asked to remove I probably would not feel the need to rant. But Social Fixer will need to remove the Friend Tracker, News Feed Tabs, News Feed Filters, and of course the ability to block ads in order to comply fully with Facebook’s requests.
Social Fixer reports that over one million people are using the browser extension across all browsers…One Million people…I guess that is a drop in the bucket when you consider there are over one billion people on Facebook (counting the spam bots, fake accounts, etc.). But one million is still a significant number of people that don’t believe the stock Facebook experience is as good as it should be. Social Fixer allows users to see the Facebook they want to see, not just what Facebook wants to show you. I suppose I should say “allowed,” since it looks like Social Fixer in its current form will be going away.
If you use Social Fixer, or appreciate what Mr. Kruse has done, please consider sending him a donation. Mr. Kruse works on Social Fixer on his own in his free time and does not charge anything for it. After getting pulled through the ringer I’d say he deserves to take his wife out for a nice dinner or something!
Source: Social Fixer The Blog
Download: Social Fixer
Social Fixer Images Courtesy of Matt Kruse