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Step-by-Step Facebook Help: Take Control Over Your News Feed

Updated on July 24, 2015
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I spend a lot of time in technical help forums, including the Help Center for Facebook, assisting people with computer issues. Since Facebook recently introduced new ways to customize the News Feed, I decided to pop into the Help Center to see how things were going. I was surprised to learn that many users are unaware of any customization settings for the Facebook home page feed. The realization spurred me to publish a guide to customizing the News Feed.

This guide details all the Facebook News Feed settings, old and new. It also provides simple, illustrated step-by-step instructions to enable even the least cyber-savvy users to personalize their Facebook pages with ease. Listed below are only some of the tweaks you will enjoy after reading this guide:

  • Easily eliminate game requests in your feed.
  • Replace annoying advertisements with ads you find useful.
  • Conveniently assess and adjust which people, pages and groups you're following.
  • Remove select updates from your News Feed.
  • Tell Facebook which types of posts you prefer.

Knowing how News Feed works helps you to control it.

Regarding status updates, it's useful to understand that Facebook doesn't show you all of your friends' updates. Nor do any of your friends see all of your posts. Facebook uses a mathematical formula, or algorithm, to decide which posts to place on a user's News Feed. Although Facebook doesn't give us the exact algorithm, it does share some of the factors involved in the calculation.

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  • How often you interact with individual friends bears weight. Facebook displays updates from friends, pages and groups you interact with most often.
  • An update's popularity among your friends is considered. Relevance is given to status updates your friends Comment on and Like the most.
  • Another consideration is the types of posts you prefer. Types of posts include videos, photos and status updates. Your preferences are measured by how often you Like and Comment on the different types of posts.

You can also take a quick survey to convey your preferences to Facebook. You may take the survey as often as you like. How to access the survey is covered later in this guide.

Choose the order of status updates.

At the top of the vertical menu on the left side of your Facebook home page is a heading labeled 'News Feed'. Click this heading to see a drop-down menu with two options: Top Stories and Most Recent.

  • When you choose the Top Stories option, posts that Facebook thinks you'll find interesting appear first on your News Feed, regardless of when the posts were made.
  • Selecting the Most Recent option tells Facebook to display updates in the chronological order in which they were posted. Both options show the same status updates, only in different sequences.

Choose the order in which posts appear on News Feed.
Choose the order in which posts appear on News Feed.

Facebook prefers to show you posts using the Top Stories format, presumably because this format is beneficial to Facebook's advertisers. Therefore, your feed will periodically revert to the Top Stories format despite which setting you choose. Judging by the messages in the Help Center forums, this seems to be a point of contention for Facebook users.

The good news is there's a little-known trick to force Facebook to always load in the format for Most Recent. Use the URL, or web address, [http://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_chr] to access Facebook instead of using [https://www.facebook.com]. Do not type the brackets. I only used them for clarity. For convenience, you can make a bookmark for Facebook using the new URL.

  1. Right-click the link I provided, and choose 'Copy link address'.
  2. Open a new browser tab.
  3. Paste the link into the address bar, and press [Enter].
  4. Once Facebook loads, you can create a bookmark for the website.

If you need help creating bookmarks, the following links will take you to the appropriate Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer help page, respectively.

Rid Your News Feed of game requests.

If you don't play games through Facebook, you don't want your News Feed populated with game requests. Even if you do enjoy the games, you needn't sift through requests for the games you don't play. Using the options available for individual posts, you can easily get rid of these distractions. Here's how to stop the game posts:

  • Click the downward-pointing arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the game post in your News Feed.
  • If you just want to get rid of a single post rather than all posts from the game, choose 'I don't want to see this.'
  • If you never want to see any posts from the game, choose 'Hide all from [name of game]' on the drop-down menu.

It doesn't take long at all to virtually rid your news scroll of game posts by using the 'Hide all' option for each game.

Eliminate game requests.
Eliminate game requests.

You can also stop receiving notifications about games. In the notifications drop-down menu, hover your mouse to the right of a game notification. A circle and an 'x' will become visible near your mouse pointer. Click the 'x'. Facebook will ask if you want to 'Turn Off' notifications or 'Keep On' notifications. Choose 'Turn Off' if you never want any notifications from that particular game.

Turn off game notifications.
Turn off game notifications.

Customize your news feed by tailoring individual posts.

You can eliminate individual updates you'd rather not see. Likewise, you can wipe out all updates from a friend whose posts detract from your Facebook experience. On the other hand, some posts are so good they should be earmarked for future reference.

No problem! Just like the game posts, use the settings available within the status update. Click the downward-pointing arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the News Feed post to see these options:

  • If you just want to hide the immediate post and not all the posts made by the person or page, choose 'I don't want to see this.' Facebook will then offer you the options to 'See less from [poster's name]' or to 'Report Post' as a violation of Facebook rules. The former option will result in fewer updates from that person, page or group appearing in your Facebook News Feed. If you'd rather not choose either of the options, just ignore them and move on.
  • If you believe the post does violate Facebook rules, that it is a malicious post (is meant to harm users or their computers) or that the post is spam, choose 'Report post'. Facebook will investigate and decide what to do from there. Reporting a post is an anonymous action. The poster will not know they were reported by you.
  • If you don't want to see any status updates from the person, page or group in question, choose 'Unfollow [person's name]'. You will still be friends on Facebook. You simply won't see that person's updates on your News Feed. Likewise, if you Unfollow a page, Facebook will still show that you Like the page. You just won't get posts from that page on your feed.
  • If you especially like a post, you can choose 'Save [name of post]'. The post will be added to your saved links. After you save a post for the first time, a category labeled 'Saved' will appear in the vertical menu on the left side of your News Feed page. Click the 'Saved' category to see posts you opted to save.
  • You get the option to turn notifications for the poster on or off. If you followed my previous guide, How to See All Friends' Facebook Status Updates, this is good way to turn on/off any notifications you may have missed.
  • You can embed a post. This is for people who want to display the post on their websites or webpages. Click 'Embed Post'. Copy the code you're given, and place it where you'd like the post to appear on your webpage or website.
  • You have the option to take a survey to make News Feed better. This survey lets Facebook know which types of posts you prefer.
  • You might see the option to 'Hide all from [3rd party poster]'. This setting becomes available when one of your friends shares a link from someone else's Facebook page. For example, your friend might share a link for a Facebook-based game. If you never wish to receive a post from or about that game, you can choose to hide all the posts that come from that game page. This won't affect the settings you have for your friend.

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Adjust your News Feed Preferences.

Facebook recently added News Feed Preferences alongside its list of settings. There are two ways to access these preferences. The first way is to click the downward-pointing arrow in the upper right corner of your News Feed page. Then choose News Feed Preferences from the drop-down menu. You may also access preferences from the vertical menu on the left side of your News Feed page. Simply hover your mouse pointer to the left of the 'News Feed' heading until a gear icon appears. Click the gear icon, and then click 'Edit Preferences'.

Tweak your Facebook News Feed Preferences.
Tweak your Facebook News Feed Preferences.

The first heading under News Feed Preferences is 'Summary'. This shows a brief summary of whose posts you saw the most of last week. You'll also see Unfollowed people/pages. Click 'See More' to see a longer list of either category. You can also choose to Unfollow people or pages you're currently getting posts from, or you may opt to Follow any other people or pages.

The next three settings, 'People', 'Pages' and 'Groups' show comprehensive lists of those you're following. These settings are wonderful if you want to mix things up a little on your News Feed. You may want to Follow all of your college buddies on the day of your alma mater's rivalry football game. You can cheer along with friends and then reset your options afterward.

During campaign time, you may prefer to swap light-hearted sentiments with relatives and forgo the political rhetoric on your feed. News Feed Preferences make it easy to Unfollow some people and Follow different ones.

Since Facebook gives priority to posts from those you interact with most, use Follow/Unfollow to rotate the friends who reach your News Feed. That way, you'll have interacted with more people, so you should receive a wider variety of posts thereafter. The possibilities are endless!

Mold Facebook ads to suit your interests.

Facebook makes its money from ads, so Facebook responded to user requests for more relevant advertisements. The social network now provides users with the ability to give input as to which ads are showcased.

Tailor the ads displayed on your News Feed.
Tailor the ads displayed on your News Feed.

Click the arrow in the upper right-hand corner of a sponsored post to see the drop-down menu. If you choose 'I don't want to see this,' you'll get a pop-up asking why you don't want to see it. The post will disappear after you choose one of the following reasons for not wanting the ad on your feed:

  • 'It's not relevant to me.'
  • 'I keep seeing this.'
  • 'It's offensive or inappropriate.'
  • 'It's spam.'
  • Something else

Choosing 'Why am I seeing this?' results in a pop-up window containing an explanation along with a link to Manage Your Ad Preferences. You may choose 'This ad is useful' to let Facebook know the ad is relevant to you.

Ads displayed on your page are based on your Facebook activity, your friends' interests, and your ad preferences. You can access and manage your ad preferences from the main Facebook settings page. Go to the settings page and click Ads.

You finished Facebook 101!
You finished Facebook 101! | Source

Congratulations! You've just learned how to take control over your Facebook News Feed. By this point, your feed should be much more manageable.

I enjoy helping people get the most out of their computers, devices and software. It's one reason I chose a career in the tech industry. Hearing your thoughts about my articles and your requests for future guides helps me to know what areas I should focus on. I also welcome any questions you have. Happy computing!

Watch this video to learn about your mobile News Feed.

© 2015 Staci Stathos

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    • profile image

      Trace Reid 2 years ago

      Great article! Thanks!

    • stacistathos profile image
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      Staci Stathos 2 years ago from Charleston, SC

      You're welcome, Trace. And thank YOU! LOL

    • profile image

      Jenny A. 2 years ago

      I love this! I've been looking for a way to kill those game requeests. My friends are fanatics! Also I like getting rid of thos political posts. I was always afraid to use those options because I thought I would get my friends in trouble with Facebook. LOL Thank you for this wonderful guide!!

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      Staci Stathos 2 years ago from Charleston, SC

      It's my pleasure, Jenny. I'm so happy the article helped you so much. Please let me know if there's any other guide you'd like to see. Happy New Year, Jenny!

    • profile image

      Tee Riviera 2 years ago

      Aces! Thank you for this info, Staci. Great article!

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      Staci Stathos 2 years ago from Charleston, SC

      Wonderful! Thank you so much, Tee.

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      Gennie B. 2 years ago

      This is so helpful. I've never seen such a comprehensive guide for Facebook News Feed. I hope you'll write more Facebook guides. A how-to for all the privacy settings (including ads) would be great. Thank you so much!

    • profile image

      Mickey Greene 2 years ago

      Thank you for this info. Much appreciated and very well done. M.G.

    • stacistathos profile image
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      Staci Stathos 2 years ago from Charleston, SC

      Gennie B, thank you so much for the compliment about my article. I've received a lot of private messages from people I've assisted in Facebook Help Center. Most of them are requests for a guide covering Facebook privacy settings. I'm making plans to release a guide covering these settings in the near future.

      I appreciate your input, as it's infinitely helpful to me. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about your settings. I'm happy to help however I can.

    • stacistathos profile image
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      Staci Stathos 2 years ago from Charleston, SC

      Thank you, Mickey. Be sure to check back for more guides. Drop me a line if you have any questions. Take care.

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