Decluttering Facebook and Twitter

Some changes to Facebook and Twitter homepages

This is what most users on Facebook see.

Original Facebook

And so did I, for the longest time. Until I got exasperated with the troll-meme filled content on my news feed.

The earliest proof I have of having searched for a news-feed blocker is ~Jun 2016.

Extension Search

Since then my newsfeed has looked more like this - Actual Facebook

I liked it. The time I spent scrolling through the news feed drastically reduced. Ocassionally though, a desire to do it would creep through and I’d disable the extension to scroll through the feed before getting bored of it again.

However, with that time that stopped too. The only times I ever looked at the news feed were when I opened facebook on browsers that didn’t have this extension, like my phone or in the steam browser.

I only stuck with Facebook over the last 4 years because my entire college/batch was on it and that was the defacto way of getting communication regarding assignments and other institute related information, also to keep in touch with people.

Over time, Facebook has added a lot of functionality to its website and continues to do so. However, I’m not interested in any of them. I barely ever click any of them and they still occupy valuable space on the homepage.

I’m also a big proponent of picking what news I wish to see and not have the latest trending topics thrown into my view.

“Keeping up with current affairs by reading the newspaper” was something that was heavily encouraged in school. I think I overdosed on it as a teenager.

My topics of interest are extremely narrow, mostly just Tech and maybe Science sometimes. Also not all Tech and not all Science. The Facebook algorithm either didn’t get the memo or didn’t respect it.

The Facebook Trending Pagelet really annoyed me. I would see news I was least interested in, thrown into my view. I would only really see it because my newsfeed was already blocked and that was really the only thing that changed on the homepage.

There must’ve been some trending topic that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, I can’t remember it at the moment.. But that was when I realized I really needed to remove it like the newsfeed was removed.

I finally got around to doing that today.

Along the way, I figured why not remove all the other functionality that I rarely use too?

A unintended consequence of not viewing the newsfeed is that I also barely ever post anything onto my wall. So that entire input box had to go.

I created a page for a cricket ground once.. I don’t even maintain it or post anything on it. I only ever visit it once/twice a year and Facebook somehow decided to give it prominent visibility on my home page. That had to go too.

Another consequence of not having a newsfeed is that liking pages becomes meaningless. So the ‘Suggested Pages’ pagelet is more unnecessary use of space. I don’t change through language settings or intend to (except maybe once when I changed it to pirate-speak as a joke and had to go to a lot of trouble to change it back). Not interested in reading the Privacy terms or Advertising on Facebook either.

On the left side, in the Explore tab, I only ever really use On this day to go through embarassing posts made by me 6-7 years ago and turn all of them into only-me or delete them.

I never go through the Pages feed, or events, or pages, or groups.

I didn’t use Friend lists but I think there may be some merit in using them now. They function like lists on twitter, right? I let that one stay.

I also removed the ‘Create’ because gone are the days when I created a group/page for everything.

It’s also been forever since I last played a facebook game. They wouldn’t run on campus internet AFAIK and I’ve also graduated onto other games now. Not interested in

I couldn’t figure out how to remove ‘Your Pages’, otherwise that would’ve gone too.

Keeping Stories in was a questionable choice. only NASA ever really seems to release stories.

With all of it gone, this is what remains :

New Facebook

Sooo much cleaner, less distracting and less annoying.

I’m happy I finally got around to it. It was surprisingly easy to implement.

I realize THIS is exactly one of the reasons why I love the web, because I can make personal modifications like this. I can’t do this on mobile, right?

Twitter

I also redid the Twitter homepage.

Original Twitter

I didn’t like the profile card on the left. How many tweets I’ve made, how many people I follow isn’t information that I’m interested in.

I also have only 57 followers and my eyes automatically go over to that number EVERY time. Whenever I see that number incremented or decremented by one, I immediately click it and see who it was. A side-result is that I end up reading their bio (usually uninteresting but sometimes OK). I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who does that.

I think that’s a twitter hack to get people to notice you/read your bio which in turn increases the chances they’ll follow you. You can always unfollow them after a couple of days. I haven’t read about it anywhere but I haven’t tried searching for it either.

I don’t want to be used like that.

The trends… again, not for me.

I don’t really want ‘Who to Follow’ broadcasted at me either. I prefer my organic way of finding new people to follow. I wish there was a way to see how many people of the ~250 I’ve started following since starting to use Twitter ~7 months ago came from that. My guess would be maybe 4-8. Not worth the space.

I don’t want to connect my gmail. Or my other address books.

Footer, no thanks again.

I also removed ‘Moments’. That’s kind of like Trends too.

Now my Twitter homepage looks like this.

New Twitter

I like it. (Duh.)

The whitespace on the sides got me thinking whether I could maybe try to utilize that too.. Maybe have the tweets be side-by-side, as some sort of a grid? A concern was that my attention would get divided

Some day.

Conclusion

I think the ratio of annoyance saved to lines of code is enormous for this project. I’m happy with the current state of the extensions, even with the few bugs they have.

I think I’ll use these for a couple of days and then, if the bugs continue to annoy me, I’ll take a look at how I can fix them.

Project Potential

I have no reason to believe that others feel the exact same way about most of the issues I have with Facebook/Twitter Homepages that I outlined above.

In it’s current state, it isn’t in any shape to be shared. If it was to appeal to a wider audience, it needs to be better.

I’ve actually seen extensions like this before, check ‘Refined Twitter’. Disclosure : I must admit, that it was what reminded me that I could actually modify twitter too. It wasn’t for Firefox though.

I think the people that DO care have very unique issues and it’s hard to make something that would fit everybody’s needs.. There may be people that share my viewpoint but that is only half the battle, the other half is finding out how I can help them find my extension. I don’t think that’s easy either.

Written on May 11, 2018