Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Facebook News Feed and Social Games: How to Manage the Spam?

One of the most important things for a pleasant Facebook experience for you and your friends is knowing how to manage your Wall and News Feed, which I suspect is not something that a lot of Facebook users know how to do well. That's why I decided to share some tips on how to deal with "spam" created by social applications and games like FarmVille and how to peacefully coexist with your friends whether you're a social gamer or not.

How not to spam all your friends while enjoying social games

Let's start with some tips for social gamers. Our favorite social games would like nothing more than let all of our friends know how much fun we're having in the game. And while we appreciate the treasures our friends post to our News Feed, we also have friends who just don't see the appeal of farm life and similar hobbies (yet!). So, what can you do if you want to keep sharing lost animals, eggs, fuel and what not with your game friends, but at the same time don't want to spam your friends who hate the game?

The solution is pretty simple: use Friend Lists. Friend Lists can be created and managed by choosing Edit Friends from the Account menu (top right). Once you create your game list, you can add your game neighbors to that Friend List and whenever you're prompted to publish something on your wall, make it visible only to your game friend list. For instance, I have a Friend List for all my active FarmVille neighbors and whenever I post something, I make sure only people on that list get to see it:

Step 1: Before Publishing a story, click on the privacy lock and select "Customize"

Step 2: Select "Specific People" in the "Make this visible to" drop-down menu and start typing the name of your game specific Friend List;
Save Settings and you're ready to Publish your update

Yes, it does take some time to set up the list and manually manage all posts, but on the plus side you don't have to bother your students, coworkers, clients or whoever with your FarmVille addiction (unless you want to) and you will avoid complaints about your FarmVille "spam" from friends, who haven't yet discovered the magic Hide option in the News Feed (more about that in a minute). But don't forget to check back on your game Friend List(s) once in a while to add your new game buddies or remove friends that have stopped playing the game.

Another helpful thing you can do if you don't want to see your profile Wall cluttered with various game updates, is to prevent games from publishing short stories on your wall. You can do that by choosing "Application Settings" from the "Account" menu (top right). Find your application on the list, click on "Edit Settings" and check the "Additional Permissions" tab in the box that opens.

I love you FarmVille, but please don't spam my wall:
I always uncheck the "Publish recent activity" option for games

Bonus tip: don't spam all your friends with game invites. Send invites only when you really think a certain person is going to enjoy the game or application you are playing. And don't send various in-game gifts to friends that are not playing your game!

How to hide or block unwanted apps your friends play

Ok, and what can you do if you just can't stand the spam your friends publish through various Facebook applications? Don't worry, there's no need to remove all your friends or quit Facebook; just make good use of the "Hide" button in your News Feed.

Hiding apps (or people) you don't want to see in your News Feed is easy: hover over one of the posts you don't like, and click on the "Hide" button that appears in the top right corner of the post. You then have two options:
  • hide all News Feed posts from your friend that posted the update or
  • hide all News Feed posts from a certain app.
    You can unhide friends/pages/applications by clicking on "Edit Options" link at the right bottom of your News Feed.

    And if you have a very insistent friend, who keeps sending you requests for an application you're just not interested in (or if you're trying to recover from a game addiction), don't forget that you also have the option to completely Block an application. Just visit the application page and click on the block link to never see or receive anything from that application again.

    "Block Application" option on an application page

    I hope these tips can help you enjoy Facebook more and prevent your game addictions get in the way of your friendships or even reputation :) If you have any other tips or suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments. And make sure to enjoy your games without spamming your friends!

    Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.