Five steps to a fresh start on Facebook

It's springtime, and a perfect excuse to do a little maintenance on the ol' Facebook account. Follow these five steps to get started.

Sharon Vaknin/CNET

Nearly a billion of us earthlings log into Facebook daily, and spend about 8 hours per month on the free social networking site.

From stalking catching up with friends, to sharing daily activity through status updates and apps, and customizing the look of our Timelines, many of us have invested hours in our online personas.

But how often do you review your account to adjust settings, throw out unused apps, and make necessary changes to reflect the way you presently use Facebook? It's probably been a while since you did a little cleanup.

In the spirit of spring, follow these five steps to revamp your Facebook account and give yourself a fresh start on your most frequented social network.

1. Lock down your privacy
The most important step is to first confirm that you're comfortable with the amount of information you're sharing on Facebook--with friends, apps, and the service itself.

  • These five important privacy features introduced with Facebook Timeline are the minimum changes you should make to your account. They include tag approval, audience selection for any given post, and a feature that lets you see your profile the way everyone else does. Get the guide .
  • Revoke app permissions. Throughout your Facebook quest, you've probably enabled quite a few apps you no longer use. Clean up the list by deleting any inactive apps, as they can still harvest any data you initially allowed them to collect. To do so, head to the App Settings page and click the X next to the app to delete it, or click Edit to change the audience selection.
  • Are you still OK with Facebook knowing your birthday, religion, and sexual orientation? Generally speaking, Facebook primarily uses this data to serve you ads, but third-party apps can also collect this info when you enable them. Click this link to edit your profile now.

2. Unlike, unfriend, and unsubscribe
I'm always surprised at those who never review their friend list for potential people to toss out. No, you shouldn't make a habit of it, but it's important to remember that if you're mostly sharing with "Friends" that's potentially hundreds of people who are getting a peek into your personal life. My general rule of thumb is that if I wouldn't say "hello" to them IRL, they shouldn't be my "friend." But before you go on a deleting rampage, check out these 7 things to consider before Facebook unfriending .

While you're at it, unlike and unsubscribe from any pages or public figures who may be clogging up your News Feed with information you don't usually find useful or entertaining. You can quickly find your Subscriptions under the "Interests" header in the sidebar on the home page.

3. Disable (or minimize) e-mail notifications

Because you check Facebook so often, e-mail notifications about who commented on what are just redundant. Besides, e-mail notifications ruin the excitement one gets upon seeing that wonderful red bubble at login.

Disable, or at least minimize, those e-mail notifications with this quick guide to adjusting the frequency of e-mail notifications .

4. Organize your friends into lists
Over time, as you add friends and subscribe to people and pages, your News Feed can become pretty noisy. To fix this, Facebook offers Lists, a feature that lets you organize people into, erm, lists. Use them to filter your News Feed.

For example, I have a list for high school friends, colleagues, and my club, so that I can catch up on those individuals one group at a time. Follow this easy guide to get started with Lists.

5. Update your bio
It's no surprise that employers check out potential workers' Facebook profile as a regular part of the hiring process . After all, what better way to get an idea of who you are and what you're like?

Since there's nothing you can really do to stop them from creeping on you (except deleting your account), the next best thing is to make your profile shine.

As such, take the time to update your bio, work history, interests, and any other information you're willing to volunteer. And if you're feeling brave, make that information "Public" so that anyone who visits your profile can immediately get a sense of just how awesome you are.

If you still have some gas left after your spring cleaning, check out these seven hidden, and superuseful Facebook features .

About the author

Sharon Profis is a CNET How To expert who cooks up DIY projects, in-depth guides, and little-known tricks that help you get the most out of your tech. During her four years at CNET, she's covered social media, funky gadgets, and has shared her tech knowledge on CBS and other news outlets.

 

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