Invitations to add apps, attend events, join groups and "fan" business pages are choking Facebook with so much clutter that it can be hard to find your real friends. "Games, apps and polls are fine. Just don't ask me to join / participate!" writes a Facebook user from Winnsboro, S.C.
Lets hack through some of that right now.
Apps are potentially the worst, because they can suck privacy information right out of your account and into the outside developer's database. If you're invited to join an app you don't like, you can block that app and not be invited again. On the requests page -- where you're directed when you click on your request notifications on the home page -- click "block this application" under the invitation. If you get a lot of applications from a certain friend, you can block all application invites from that friend. You'll see that fine print beneath the app invitation, too. If you like this friend, feel free to send them this in a personal message:
I like connecting with you on Facebook, but please don't send me any more application requests. Outside apps have privacy risks I don't like, and I don't care for the invites, either. I'm glad you're having fun with this. Thanks a lot. To see more on this, go to http://bit.ly/3xf4PF
That link is to this blog post, and might explain things a little. I don't mind being the bad guy, and you could be saving many of your friends the same aggravation. You can also hide an application with a large logo so you don't have to see it on your wall. (Anything with "farm," "mafia" or "vampire" in the name comes to mind.) Just hover your cursor next to the logo when it appears on your wall, and click hide. There you'll also see the option to hide the friend who uses this app. Tempting, isn't it? Let's talk about that for a sec.
There are three layers of distancing yourself from an annoying friend on Facebook: Hide, unfriend (techinically, "remove connection"), and block (which prevents someone from even finding you on Facebook. You can find that on your Privacy settings.) I'm going to suggest again that you instead address the behaviors that are bothering you about the friend. If they're really a friend, the brief, uncomfortable exchange could be well worth it in the long run.
On the subject of applications, there's a chore many of you need to do, now. Facebook recently added privacy controls for how much you reveal to outside developers of applications. Take note: We're talking here about apps you don't use. These are apps your friends use, but that can access your privacy info. If the very idea of this alarms you, do this: Go to Settings at the top of the Facebook page (yours or the home page), click Privacy, Applications, Settings. There you see a bunch of check boxes where you choose what info your friends can see "through applications," and therefore what privacy info this developer can see and use -- like your religion, who you're in a relationship with and whether you're online. I chose to shut a lot of that down. For more on this issue, see here.
At the bottom of this page, you can see which friends you've blocked from inviting you to use apps. Ask yourself, do you want to be on any of your friends' pages here?
Requests to attend events come in by the truckload, it seems. I rarely go to these things, but it seems I have to deal with them all the time. From the requests page, you can click "Remove from my events" under an event. It's not clear to me if this prevents you from being invited to it again. I have read online that that's not the case. There are no settings to prevent receiving invitations to certain events, or from certain friends. There should be, and I think there will be soon. In the meantime, feel free to send a persistent friend this:
I like connecting with you on Facebook, but please don't send me any more invitations to events, or to fan a business or join a group. I'm glad you're finding this worthwhile, but I don't wish to take part. Please remove me from these invitations lists and practices. I like to see what you're doing, and don't want to "hide" you. Thanks a lot. To see more on this, go to http://bit.ly/3xf4PF
You can also choose the option Ignore All from the requests page. (You're taken there when you click "See all" next to Requests on the home page.) You can ignore all the requests, getting rid of them, or ignore a whole category, like applications requests. But again, this doesn't go to the source of the reuests. I'd reach out to that friend.
Sara Woodmansee of Charlotte seemed to sum up how many of us feel when she wrote: "Agree about quiz, poll and apps requests. Also had one person who sent me their fan page 'suggestion' about 8 times! I ignored it the first 7, why would i do it now?"
You don't want to be the person she's talking about. If you sincerely want this particular friend to attend this event, join this group or fan this business, reach out to them directly, and have a conversation about it.
Don't send invitation spam on Facebook. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Here's a hilarious video on Facebook etiquette suggested by my friend, Bill Benac. (We studied social networking together at Stanford.) It's not exactly what we're discussing, but is very funny. Enjoy!