What I hope for from Facebook: To keep in touch with lovely friends who I don’t get to hang out with often enough (partly due to living in different countries), to celebrate huge life-changing landmarks and small beautiful moments with people I care about, and to share thoughts, ideas and musings with my friends.
What I get from Facebook: Friends-of-friends who seem to use the internet primarily as a tool for arguing, emotional blackmail guilt-trip chain memes, painfully inaccurate political spam, and passive-aggressive vaguebooking.
The thing is, Facebook is actually really useful for some things, like inviting people to events, keeping track of friends’ birthdays, connecting with people through Groups, and managing artist and business Pages (although the value of those is limited due to Facebook throttling the reach of any Page that doesn’t pay them to serve content to people who have made a conscious choice to actually follow the page and view the content).
Because I AM SO DONE with about 90% of Facebook right now, I came up with a bunch of workarounds so that I can continue to use the useful parts of Facebook without having to bother with the parts that make me want to gouge my eyes out with a blunt spoon. I removed the Facebook app from my phone and rarely visit the desktop site either. It’s been a wonderfully positive experience so far!
If you want to do that too, here are some ways you can use Facebook without using Facebook.
Messenger as a stand-alone app and site
Messenger has its own mobile app, which you can download and use for free without having any other Facebook apps installed on your device. Notifications are reasonably flexible, so you can choose to have a light, sound or vibration to notify you of new messages…or not! Messenger also has it’s own URL. Simply bookmark messenger.com in your browser, and you’re set.
Pages Manager as a stand-alone app and Pages as separate URLs
You can also download Pages Manager as a separate app that can be used for free without having any other Facebook apps installed on your device. While you can select vibration and sound notifications independently of each other, you cannot turn off push notifications permanently through the app as it only gives you the option to turn them off until the following morning. If you want to use Pages Manager without notifications, you can still block notifications in your device’s app manager though.
If you want to visit and manage your Pages in a browser, simply bookmark the Pages themselves so you can access them without having to open the main Facebook site.
Groups as a stand-alone site
Facebook Groups are actually pretty useful. I’m part of an active, supportive little writing group on Facebook, a group for staff of a news blog I contribute to, and various other groups for organisations I belong to. Luckily, the Groups section of Facebook has its own URL that you can bookmark! Save https://www.facebook.com/groups/?category=groups in your browser’s bookmarks and it’ll take you right to the list of Groups you’re in, rather than the annoying Discover page.
Unfortunately, Facebook has discontinued it’s Groups app, but if you want to access Groups on your mobile device without going through the main Facebook app, you can still do this with your mobile browser – just sync your bookmarks between desktop and mobile, and you’re sorted!
Facebook can be super useful for helping you to remember friends’ birthdays. I know there are people giving me disapproving looks for this, but seriously, how is it any different from putting birthdays on your calendar? The point is, you use a tool to be reminded of birthdays.
If you want birthday reminders from Facebook without having to visit Facebook, go to the Email Address section of your notification settings https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=notifications§ion=email&view and turn Upcoming Birthdays on. This means you’ll get an email about birthdays from Facebook! If you don’t want those showing up in your inbox, use the settings in your email client to filter them into a separate folder.
Creating (and being invited to) Events
You can view Events, including invitations, and create your own by visiting https://www.facebook.com/events/upcoming, which by-passes the main site but still allows you to access everything to do with Events! Annoyingly, there doesn’t seem to be a way (currently, that I can find) of receiving email notifications about invitations without having email notifications generally turned on, but if you can remember to check your emails and other social media sites regularly, it’s not too hard to have a quick look at your Facebook Events too.
If you bookmark the Events URL and sync your bookmarks between your desktop and mobile browser, you can view Events and invitations on your phone or tablet without needing a Facebook app.
If you’re willing to receive push notifications on your desktop even when Facebook is turned off (a big yuck for me personally, but to each their own), you can turn Event-related notifications on through https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=notifications§ion=push&view
Checking notifications without viewing the rest of your feed
Yep, this is entirely possible! Your Facebook notifications have their own URL at https://www.facebook.com/notifications so you can bookmark that and check in on your notifications when you feel like it without having to view everything else that appears when you go to the main Facebook site.
To select which notifications you receive on Facebook itself (rather than on your mobile device or by email), go to the On Facebook part of your settings page at https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=notifications§ion=on_facebook&view and turn individual notifications on and off to suit your needs.
Make Facebook less awful when you do visit
Even if you want to avoid Facebook most of the time, you may still feel like having the occasional browse. The FB Purity browser extension is an absolutely amazing customisation tool that allows you to hide pretty much any areas of the site and types of content you don’t want to see. It doesn’t stop people saying daft things (although you can block words and phrases) and it doesn’t magically fact check all the political memes, but it does a fantastic job at hiding adverts, Marketplace, ‘someone Liked this thing’ stuff, Trending news, and all the other annoying, extraneous bits and pieces that clog up Facebook and make it horrible.
Facebook has a tendency to change, hide and remove settings every now and then, so I can’t guarantee that these instructions will definitely be 100% accurate forever, but they’re correct at the time of posting this. I’m sure I haven’t covered absolutely everything in terms of Facebook workarounds, but I hope this has at least provided a helpful starting point for people who want to use some of the tools Facebook provides without having to deal with the parts of the site that annoy you or suck your time 🙂