Three annoying things Facebook does, and how to stop them

Posted on February 17, 2017


Yesterday, we wrote about Facebook’s latest plan to make videos on your news feed auto-play with sound. It’s a move that Facebook claims offers internet users what they have “come to expect” when they watch a video online, but do you agree?

Personally, I find auto-playing videos hugely irritating, with or without sound. My way of seeing it is that if I want to watch a video, I’m quite capable of clicking that big triangle that appears on it myself. Starting videos playing for me assumes that I want to stop what I’m doing and watch a video on my newsfeed there and then, and intrudes on my user experience. This would be even more the case with sound – I don’t want to be casually browsing through Facebook on a train and attract the looks of the whole carriage just because some dorky mate of mine has decided to share Justin Bieber’s latest video.

Luckily, such a situation shouldn’t affect me because I know how to turn auto-playing videos off. It’s pretty simple, but from comments and complaints I see crop up on Facebook, it seems to me that a lot of people make do with Facebook’s ‘default’ settings (which are basically to have everything singing, dancing and shouting right in front of you) even though they don’t like them. They don’t know how to change them, or don’t even realise they have the option to.

The downward-pointing arrow (the icon furthest to the right on the above picture) is your friend. If you click it, you’ll find ‘Settings’ on the dropdown menu that appears. Have a play around with it, and you might be surprised by how much Facebook intrusion you actually don’t have to deal with.

Here are three pieces of Facebook behaviour I’ve heard or seen people grumbling about, and how you can make them a thing of the past, should you wish to. In all cases, it’s easiest to do it in desktop mode.

1. Auto-playing videos

So, let’s start with this one. If, like me, you see actually clicking on a video to make it play to be a minimal effort that you don’t need Facebook to relieve you off, here’s what to do:

1. Go to ‘Settings’
2. Select ‘Videos’ from the menu on the left
3. You will see an option to change your ‘Auto-play Videos’ setting. If this is currently on ‘Default’ or ‘On’, just change it to ‘Off’

There you go. Nice to actually be able to choose which videos to watch, isn’t it?

2. ‘On this Day’ posts

A lot of people like being reminded of what they posted on a certain day in a previous year, and that’s fair enough. For myself though, a lot of my posts are just moans about public transport being late or general outbursts of sarcasm, so I don’t really want it to be dragged up again.

While I just find it a bit tedious, I’ve known other Facebook users to find it upsetting. Perhaps on this day a few years ago, you posted a tribute to a departed friend or family member, or spent time with somebody no longer in your life. You may not want a reminder of this.

You can turn ‘On this Day’ off by doing the following:

1. Go to ‘Settings’
2. Select ‘Notifications’ from the menu on the left
3. The first option you will see is ‘On Facebook’. Click ‘Edit’ alongside this
4. You’ll see a selection of items under ‘What You Get Notified About’, which includes ‘On this Day’. Here, you can reduce these notifications to just ‘Highlights’ or turn them off altogether

I did this a while ago, and I really don’t miss them.

3. Emailing you every time something happens

When I first set up my Facebook account years ago, I found it quite exciting and cute that it would drop you an email every time someone replied to your posts, messaged you or did anything else focused on you and your account. This soon became less exciting and necessary though. For a start, I would guess that most Facebook users now access their Facebook account more often than their email, so the first place they learn about notifications is on Facebook itself. The emails serve only to bulk up their account with notifications they’ve already seen.

It’s easy to turn them off – just go to ‘Notifications’ as per steps 1 and 2 in the last instruction, then:

1. Click ‘Edit’ alongside your ‘Email address settings’
2. Tick the radio buttons that say ‘Only notifications about your account, security and privacy’ and ‘Turn off email notifications about comments that are added to your live video conversations’

All in all, Facebook is a lot more customisable than many people realise and, while it will always find new ways to annoy us, you don’t have to put up with its tomfoolery.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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  • For the advertiser’s perspective, auto play sounds is a big news! but for users, I agree it can be irritating. Thanks for sharing these John! I wonder, do you think the auto play sound feature will converse more given that users can be irritated with this?

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