Facebook is easily the most popular social network, and even users who have very little formal computer training know how to access their news feed, send a message, and search for long lost friends. Mark Zuckerberg’s simple application has become known for breaking demographic barriers to the extreme; whether you’re 18 or 80, the heavily praised interface and the fact that you can network with your friends, grandparents, and children is a testament to Facebook’s ease of use.
There is however a few buttons you may have never pushed when it comes to Facebook. A few settings you’ve never changed, and maybe even some contact you’ve missed. Here are five Facebook features you didn’t know existed.
One of the primary uses for Facebook is to send messages to friends. It’s a little more convenient than using e-mail, and you’ll often get quicker responses. Since Facebook patched the instant chat widget into the messaging system, the real time aspect has taken on a new light.
Most users don’t realize that they are sent dozens of messages every year that they’ll never receive. In the beginning, the “Other Messages” folder was a reservoir for messages sent directly from Facebook Brand Pages and messages that the network considered spam. Since the algorithm updates, the removal of branded pages’ ability to send messages, and Facebook’s focus on limiting connection to users that you know outside of Facebook, the “Other Messages” folder has become a catchall for pretty much any message that doesn’t come from a friend.
If there are too many links, the message will probably end up in the other folder. If you do not share any mutual friends with the recipient, your message could end up in the other folder. If you have been tagged as a careless user with a history of contacting others who weren’t receptive, you’re more likely to end up in the other box.
I have had a few legitimate messages quarantined to the “Other Messages” inbox, and until a few months ago I didn’t even know it existed. The hotlink isn’t visible on your home page, and only shows up in the navigation when you are in your regular inbox (a page where your focus is almost exclusively in the center of the page).
To access your “Other Messages” inbox, first open your messages. There will be a hierarchy sub-category appear below the “Messages” hotlink for the “Other Messages” folder. Don’t be surprised if there are legitimate messages from people you know, possibly a year or more old.
Aaargh You Fluent in Pirate?
As Facebook expanded they effectively integrated dozens of world languages, making the world’s most popular social network truly accessible to an International user base. You can set your preferred language to Spanish, Deutsch, French, Afrikaans, and any other language that can be translated from English.
Most people don’t realize that there are several versions of plain ol’ English available to spice up your Facebook account. Tired of speaking like a normal person? Try switching your language settings to English (Pirate). This setting takes you back to a more swashbuckling, plundering version of English.
One of my favorite language settings (but not really) is Leet Speak. Leet Speak is a language that was once used by techies to encode messages so average people couldn’t understand them. Changes like replacing Es with 3s, As with 4s, Ls with 1s, leet speak is basically the aggravating digit swapping you see from teenagers and adolescents combined with a little advanced programming knowledge and Internet culture. For example, in Leet Speak edits are called h4xx and Females are called 54ndw!ch m4k3rz (sandwich makers, which Facebook recently changed to a more politically correct term).
Possibly the most outrageous leet speak translation Facebook has applied to the pages when the setting is changed is calling Photos “pr0n”, which is leet speak for pornography. It’s clever, and a little amusing, but it’s unbearable for more than a few minutes.
If leet speak or Pirate talk isn’t quite your thing, Facebook also has a setting for English (upside down). I guess when you’ve answered the most pressing issues and can’t change your application any more without screwing something up (which is the view many users have with Facebook changes) perfecting useless language translations is a way to keep your staff busy! It’s also nice to give pirates a job in linguistics; plundering and pillaging is a hard life! To check out these language settings and more, you can adjust your languages under Account Settings, General, and select edit Language at the bottom of the settings.
See yourself as others see you
The privacy settings included in the Facebook application are extensive and powerful. You can limit status updates, pictures, and your profile to the eyes of only friends, or the public as a whole. You can also further adjust who sees your content by setting up groups, and even excluding individuals at the time of your status update.
If you have a complicated privacy structure, how can you ever really be sure that the wrong people aren’t seeing your private photos? With Facebook’s Timeline viewer, you can switch to the public’s view of your page and see for yourself. You can also select anyone on the Facebook network to check if they are seeing only what you’ve intended for them to see. This is a great ability to check on how your profile appears to your boss, family, or significant other.
Remember that the only way to be truly sure that your private moments aren’t exposed to the world is by leaving them off of your Facebook profile completely. There are too many ways for the wrong person to get access to the wrong photo, so you’re much better off playing it safe and leaving Vegas in Vegas, and your real life exploits in real life.
Don’t Be a Spokesperson
With the imminent Facebook IPO on the horizon, the advertising team at Facebook has been hard at work trying to come up with clever ways to improve the effectiveness of sponsored ads. They have a world of data to pull from, and it became apparent long ago that friend recommendations were one of the most powerful ways that businesses marketed on social networking sites. Taking a page from the marketers who originally exploited that fact, Facebook has begun tagging ads with your friends have liked the ad, or corresponding Facebook page.
After all, aren’t you much more likely to like a movie because the hot date you had last night wants to go see it next weekend, and you noticed that they’ve “liked” it on Facebook? I don’t know about you, but just because I like a brand or product doesn’t mean I want to be a spokesman for them.
Facebook does have a setting that will remove your endorsement from the ads that can be set up by anyone with an advertising budget. To remove your social actions from ads, go to your “Account Settings” page and select “Facebook Ads” from the navigation. At the bottom of the page there is a drop-box with the option to “Pair my Social Actions with Ads For:” only my friends, or no one. Of course you could always leave it on and solicit endorsements from brands like Old Spice, Preparation H and Vagisil. Only like really embarrassing pages, and charge the companies some free product to keep your name attached to the project!
Friend Requests Must be Deleted Twice
If you have a Facebook account and have added even a couple of friends from your past, odds are that you’ve received request from people that you’d rather forget than add. Most users will click the option other than add, which is actually “Hide Request”. That friend request isn’t deleted, it’s merely placed in a spot that’s very similar to the “Other Messages” inbox.
This situation could cause problems if you have a jealous spouse snooping through your account, especially if they come across a friend request from that ex lover you made “the video” with in college. You thought you deleted the request, but you actually just filed them all in the “Hidden Requests” folder for future reference.
To completely delete friend requests access your Friend Request page, and scroll down until you come to “see hidden requests”. After moving the requests to that folder, you’ll get the option to delete them for good, and erase every trace that it ever happened.