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Five tips for stealthy Facebooking

Want to spend all day on Facebook without getting caught? Here's how.

Facebook is one of the fastest-growing sites in Australia, with its unique audience rocketing from 31,000 in November 2006 to 287,000 in May 2007, according to figures released by Neilsen/NetRatings. That's a whole lot of people friending, poking and photo-tagging their way to bliss.

The greater the number of your friends on Facebook, the more time it takes to keep up with all their antics. The obvious solution? Workplace Facebooking. But how do you spend all day cyberstalking without getting sprung by your employer? Here are five sneaky tips.

1. Bypass the block
If your workplace has cottoned on to the procrastinators' paradise that is Facebook, the site's URL may have been blocked. Fear not -- there is a sneaky way to get your fix without having to visit the site. All you need to do is stop by Google's Translate page and type www.facebook.com into the Translate a Web Page text field. Hit the Translate button, and you've got unfettered access to the famous purple-hued pages -- cunningly cloaked within an innocuous Google URL.

The added bonus of this sneaky trick is that if your company monitors bandwidth usage by logging top-level domains, your activity will be dominated by "http://translate.google.com/". You can always explain that away by pointing to your deep interest in foreign cultures and desire to bring your organisation further into this globalised world.

2. Tweaks and tagging
What if you have co-workers or -- heaven forbid -- your boss as a Facebook friend? How can you avoid them seeing how much of the workday you squander away? Start with a few changes to your mini-feed settings:

Untick your way to stealthy Facebooking

  • Remove the time stamp. A dead giveaway that you've been Facebooking the hours away is found in the mini-feed on your profile page. Unless you change the settings, a time stamp will appear next to every entry. When these time stamps span nine-to-five every day, the game is up.

    To excise this evidence of your procrastination, click the "privacy" link on the top right, then go to the News Feed and Mini-Feed section. Untick "Show times in my Mini-Feed" and the evidence will be destroyed. If you don't want your activity to be logged at all, you can simply untick all Mini-Feed boxes.

  • Resist the urge to tag. If you're brazen enough to upload photos on company bandwidth, don't go tagging all the drunken faces therein. The people attached to said faces will receive an instant e-mail notification. If one of them is your boss, you're busted. The same rule applies for tagging notes and videos.
  • Remove your online status. That little notification beneath your profile pic that says "online now"? Get rid of it. Go to the Profile page of the Privacy section and set the Online Status drop-down menu to "No one".

3. Brush up on your shortcut keys
Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera all offer tabbed browsing. This feature is golden for the Facebook procrastinator -- just memorise the tab-switching shortcut key (generally Control-Shift-Tab), and you'll be able to quickly shift to a work-related window should your boss walk past.

4. Refrain from joining any of the following Facebook groups:

5. Watch those status updates
Yes, it's incredibly tempting to change your status as soon as you think of a witty way to incorporate that often restrictive "is". But keep in mind that status updates can be received as an RSS feed. Should your boss be a subscriber, there could be trouble. Observe.

8:24am Ella is considering pulling a sickie after last night.
9:05am Ella is late for work.
10:52am Ella is sooo hungover this morning blarg...jagermeister FTW!!
1:08pm Ella is struggling cuz work is boooring.
4:32pm Ella is on the home stretch...can't wait to get out of this office.

4:45pm Ella is unemployed.

Don't let that be you.

If all else fails, you could always nab a job that allows you to spend all day on Facebook under the guise of professional ventures and/or "researching for an article". You'd be surprised who will fall for that old jape. On a completely unrelated matter, please feel free to join the CNET.com.au Whaddyareckon? Facebook group.