Facebook had the early-mover advantage when it comes to social networks, and although there were the likes of Orkut and Hi5 already in the market, the concept that the Paulo Alto-based giant brought to the market was entirely fresh and something that users took a liking to immediately. Despite its massive popularity, there were many qualms about a lot of Facebook’s offerings, privacy (or lack thereof) being the biggest among them. That aside, there were (and still are) the changes that are forced on users (Timeline, anyone?), and those that go unannounced altogether, until the blogosphere raises hue and cry over them. However, that doesn’t imply that all Facebook changes are evil, and some new ”features” can turn out really useful, too. One such unnoticed feature has been the ability to dismiss, remove and even turn off notifications from a certain user or application, right from within the notification drop down!
Facebook’s notification system can be best classified as a double-edged sword. Despite having gone through several decent revamps, it’s still far from perfect. Although the social network’s settings allow a reasonable amount of control over what notifications you receive and how, the problem lies in the complexity of setting everything up. Generally, Facebook likes to notify you of everything that’s happening in your network, and that’s how our News Feeds and Notification panels get populated, announcing how a certain friend had achieved a milestone in Farmville, or joined a gang in Mafia Wars. While it became pretty easy to hide these from the News Feed, what about those notifications that detail the changes to an event, or pertain to someone posting in a group that someone added you to (yes, it’s quite annoying that anyone can add you to a group without needing your permission by default). Even worse, if, like me, you have a Facebook-fiend sort of friend who would post a funny picture, tag you in it, and leave you to suffer the next three days receiving notifications about people commenting on something you’re not even remotely interested in.
While there are workarounds to all such situations, they require a few extra clicks and tweaking with settings you may not want changed (not everyone would like to stop their friends from being able to tag them at all!). Thanks to the recent change to Facebook’s notification drop down, you can opt out of notifications right from within the panel itself.
Now, when you hover over a notification item, you’ll notice a little cross appearing in the top-right corner. Bring your mouse cursor over this cross, and relevant option will be displayed. For instance, if it’s a notification from an app, person or group, you can simple turn those off, and they’ll never bother you again.
If you choose to turn off a notification, a confirmation box will appear, asking you to verify the action. This is to prevent any accidental dismissals – something that I believe Facebook has done right.
Depending on the type of notification, the options will vary. For instance, if it’s a notification of comments on a post that you’ve been tagged in, instead of turning it off, you’ll be able to Unfollow the post, hence eliminating any subsequent notifications from the same.
So, that’s about it. Facebook may have a lot of irksome “features” still up its sleeves when it comes to user experience, but this is something they’ve done right, and for that reason, we appreciate and welcome the improved notification control. You have had similar experiences? Share with us in the comments below.
Bonus tip: Did you know Facebook changed all users’ email addresses that are displayed on your Timeline? Check out how you can hide your @facebook.com email address from public view.