You can't argue with Facebook's popularity. As the social network closes in on 1 billion users, it's inundating the Internet with Like buttons, social sharing, and app logins. But for so popular a service, Facebook can also be awfully annoying. How annoying? Let me count the ways...
The Problem: Hey, did you know that Beth-Anne just got the Red Poll Calf in Farmville and claimed some animal feed. Well, now you do--and oh, by the way, did you see Bertha's latest score in Lucky Slots?
The Fix: If gaming updates are driving you crazy, go to your Privacy Settings and click the Manage Blocking link next to 'Blocked People and Apps'. In the Block Apps section, type the name of the app you want to block, and pres Enter. Here's a fun game: How many apps and games can you block? My high score is 33.
The Problem: Wouldn't you like to read this article? Yes? Well, come on over and sign up for the Washington Post Social Reader, or Reuters, or any number of other news apps so you can read all about Snooki's weight change and share your activity with your friends.
The Fix: This is easy: Go directly to third-party sites to read articles instead.
The Problem: As if it weren't bad enough that your friends can send you annoying invites to play Café World or Bubble Safari, traditional video games are moving into Facebook with social functions "built-in." Now you can play a game like Ghost Recon Commander or Angry Birds and annoy your friends with invites at the same time.
The Fix: Another easy one--find games to play outside of Facebook.
Salacious Social Videos
The Problem: Phil just watched a video called "Giant Snake Eats Security Guard." Just sign up for Socialcam, Viddy, or one of several other video services to watch it, too. Then Facebook can tell everyone that after you watched the snake video you saw a video about a girl's blouse getting unbuttoned in the wind.
The Fix: If you're a Socialcam video user, save yourself some embarrassment by ensuring that your inadvertent or intentional viewing of sleazy videos takes place in private. Go to the Socialcam app on Facebook, and at the top, next to your profile photo, toggle Social Mode to its off position.
The Problem: Apps such as Spotify and sites such as Yahoo News can share all your activity directly to Facebook so your friends can find out exactly how much you love Miley Cyrus's "Party in the USA." Did you just read an article on Yahoo News about a real-life Barbie? All your Facebook friends know that you did, too.
The Fix: Turn social sharing off. On Yahoo News, turn it off by clicking the social button on the top right side in the 'You on Yahoo News' section. On Spotify, choose Edit>Preferences, and under 'Activity Sharing' uncheck Show what I listen to on Facebook.
Friends of Friends Updates
The Problem: The other day I saw a message from John telling everyone that his grandmother had passed away. "Oh, no," I thought. "That's terrible." But then I thought, "Who is John?" I don't know John, but one of my friends does.
The Fix: You can't stop others from oversharing, but you can prevent your updates from being broadcast to Friends of Friends. Go to Facebook's Privacy Settings and click Edit Settings next to 'Timeline and Tagging'. In the pop-up window, adjust any settings that have a drop-down menu to say Friends.
The Facebook Lock
The Problem: Many services such as Spotify, Klik, and Vevo use Facebook only for logins. Why is it always Facebook? Why not Twitter, Google, OpenID, or, even better, a login that doesn't rely on any social network?
The Fix: If you don't want to log in with Facebook, your only practical options are to refrain from using the app at all or to find a competitor that isn't all about Facebook.
The Problem: Did you know that Facebook may be hiding important messages from you? Sometimes, Facebook's spam filters behave too aggressively. To find out what you're missing, click Messages in the left column of your Facebook news feed. Then click Other directly below 'Messages'. This is Facebook's equivalent of a spam folder.
The Fix: Check your Other messages from time to time.
The Pay-to-Play Future
The Problem: You may soon have to pay real money to ensure that a majority of your friends see a particular post or status update. Facebook has been testing a new highlight feature that lets you pay as much as $2 to guarantee that your friends see your Facebook activity. Facebook says that not all of your friends see your posts anyway, so this method gets your post in front of more eyeballs.
The Fix: If this feature goes mainstream (it's already available to Facebook fan pages), don't buy in. You don't need to be noticed that badly, do you?
The Awkward Like
The Problem: Few people who "Liked" this article about a Michigan politician who was barred from speaking because she used the "V" word, approved of her being silenced--but that's what it looks like.
The Fix: There isn't one--I'm just complaining at this point.