Take control of your Facebook timeline & take control of your life

Danielle A. Vincent
6 min readJan 5, 2018


My cousin posted this yesterday, and it got me thinking about how much Facebook controls what we see and hear in the world.

Several years ago, Facebook admitted that they were manipulating users’ emotions intentionally by selectively displaying mood-triggering stories. Though they have claimed they stopped doing that, their algorithms selectively show you what you show you’ll engage with. If you like or comment on a post, Facebook believes that you’re interested in that, and it will show you more.

“I can’t believe all the animal cruelty people are sharing on Facebook these days,” my friend posted a few months ago. As a human who is highly sensitive to animal cruelty, I had to mention that I hadn’t seen even one post about animal cruelty on my timeline. It turns out that because my friend had commented on a post about animal cruelty, Facebook’s algorithms decided that she should see more posts about animal cruelty… so then every post about animal cruelty started showing up.

I think no matter what side of the political spectrum we’re on, we have seen an escalation of the types of news we’re exposed to. Our newsfeeds have become echo chambers of increasingly alarmist news. As long as we keep commenting and posting sad or angry faces, Facebook believes we want to see more. The more upsetting, the more engaging. It’s all we see and it’s all we know.

Facebook isn’t controlling our reality, we are.

The concept of “what we focus on, increases” has never been more accurate than it is today. It created the political situation today, and I don’t think any of us really know what to do about it.

But we can control our own realities. We can preserve our treasured friendships. We can mold our timelines. Here’s how:

Choose who you want to see first.

I like to see uplifting people’s posts first when I get to Facebook. If I only have a few minutes, it’s good to see art, good writing, and people living their best lives. Because of this, I select individuals who I want to see first… I keep it rotating so that I don’t perpetually stalk one small section of my friends, but I really enjoy focusing on the people making the most interesting stuff.

Go to your friend’s profile and click on “Following.” Select “See First”:

See my friend’s posts first! Cool!

Get notifications for your awesome friends (or just people you want to keep an eye on)

For whatever reason, we might want to be informed of every single thing a person posts. Maybe they’re an inspiration and you hang on their every word. Maybe it’s a business you want to support. Maybe it’s a friend who has said some concerning things, and you want to keep an eye on them. Maybe it’s Tim Ferris, because he’s super cool.

Click on “following,” and under “notifications,” click “all on”:

This can get a little overwhelming if you get notifications for a lot of people, which is why I like using “see first” instead of notifications. I used to have a rule for myself that when a company I admired posted something on their timeline, I would also force myself to post something on our timeline. I wanted to match their cadence that had created such greatness.

And then I got tired. But anyways, that’s one way I used notifications.

Here’s how to get notifications for a regular person, not a page:

(those are people carrying torches in a peace ceremony, not white supremacists)

See fewer stories I don’t want to see.

If you see a story you’re not interested in, you can hide it, and Facebook will know to automatically hide other stories like that. Here I am, hiding my husband’s post about a Rolls Royce:

Obviously, he’s my husband, so I don’t want to stop seeing his posts entirely, and I still even want to see his posts first! I just want to see fewer posts about cars. No big deal!

The other day, I shared my friend’s horoscope post because I thought it was interesting and insightful. My other friend said “ugh, I wish I didn’t have to see this, is there some way of turning it off?” (hey! rude, or something?) Well, there is a way, and it doesn’t involve publicly complaining on my timeline. You’re welcome.

Hide Ads

The other thing I hear people complain about is how many ads there are on Facebook… LOOK, PEOPLE, FACEBOOK EXISTS BECAUSE OF ADS. That’s the tradeoff. You get this free service, and Facebook gets to harvest literally any information they want and sell it to whoever wants it, for whatever price they request. If you don’t like it, find another social network.

But let’s say that you don’t like one particular ad. It’s coming up a lot, and it’s annoying as heck. Or, like, it was a company you used to shop from, and then Walmart bought it, so you don’t like them anymore. You can hide the ad:

(sorry the little message was cut off a little bit on the right)

Snooze Someone

Ok, we all have that person who is just on a real tear… let’s say that, for example, they can’t stop posting about the bitcoin crash, and you could not care any less than you actually do. You are out of fucks, and you’re not willing to take out a fuck loan to give even one about cryptocurrency.

You can snooze that friend without losing them as a friend or permanently demoting them in any way. It’s your little secret way of sayin, “Chill, Bill.” Except for in this case it’s Roo, and I’m not actually going to do it because Roo is one of my creative, interesting friends. But for the sake of example:

I can’t even snooze Roo in the name of an example. Too much love.

Never forget who your real friends are

While standing in an actual physical room with some of my favorite people, it occurred to me that I rarely see their Facebook posts. Facebook doesn’t know these people are my actual real-life treasured friends. I don’t have the Facebook app, so it doesn’t track that I’m in the vicinity of them (yeah, that’s a real thing). As far as Facebook knows, we might never see each other, ever. But in fact, I was buying my first piece of artwork from my friend, and I hope to continue to be a collector.

Facebook will never tell you who your real friends are.

I’m not going to say that online friendships aren’t real friendships… some of my closest friends are people I only have met and mostly only see online. One of my dear friends lives in Australia (we got together in Oakland twice, though!!!), and the only reason we know each other at all is because we were both in a group on Facebook. And I’m planning on going to visit her later this year. Next month, I’m going to visit my friend’s sister, who I also only know online… she’s in India. Facebook’s ability to connect people is literally awesome.

But it’s not everything. Don’t let the echo chamber confuse you. Be good to yourself.



Danielle A. Vincent

CEO of Outlaw — https://LiveOutlaw.com — award-winning entrepreneur, published author, and incurable optimist (the doctor says it’s terminal)