Facebook does a lot, but there are many basic features it lacks. Here are 11 features I wish Facebook would add that would make the site much better, in the order I want them. #1: An unfiltered, Chronological News Feed!
Disclaimer: I am the author of Social Fixer, a popular browser extension that fixes many of the user interface annoyances of Facebook, and enhances the site with many tweaks. So I am kind of a “power user” of the site, and some of the features below are things I try to offer. But Social Fixer can’t do everything, including many of the things on the list here.
1. Unfiltered, Chronological News Feed
Most people want this, but Facebook won’t let us have it. Most people know that many stories from their friends are hidden from their news feed. Facebook decides what it thinks you should see and what it thinks you wouldn’t be interested in. But what most people want is just a stream of posts, with nothing filtered out. Facebook says the reason they don’t offer this is because users would be overwhelmed, but the obvious real reason is because if they didn’t limit what you saw, they couldn’t charge Pages and users to “boost” their post to make it show up in feeds. They manufacture an artificial problem, then charge money to fix it. They profit by making the site less usable. Genius.
2. Passive Friend Requests
Sending a friend request can sometimes be awkward. Are you being too forward? Will they be like, “I barely knew him in High School, why is he friend requesting me?!” Facebook should fix this by offering “passive” friend requests. It works like this:
You indicate that you would like to be friends with someone, but no message is sent, no notification triggered. They don’t know you did anything. Then, if they also do the same, you become friends. If the feeling is mutual, you both connect without the awkwardness of someone fearing that they are being pushy by sending a friend request. If it’s not mutual, nothing happens, and no one ever knows. Much better, right?
3. Mark Posts as "Read"
Imagine Gmail if you could never archive emails. Every time you opened your email, you would see the same things you saw yesterday, even though you’ve already read them and replied.
Facebook needs a way to say “I’ve already read these posts, don’t show them to me anymore, I’m done with them!” They should disappear from your news feed both on desktop and mobile, but still be viewable if you choose “All Posts”. Social Fixer offers this feature (this one feature was the one driving force behind the creation of the extension originally) but it would be so much better if Facebook would build it into the product.
(p.s. – Yes, I know you can “Hide” posts and they will disappear. But this isn’t the same, because you can’t get them back, and because the hide action tells Facebook you weren’t interested in the post, and they should show you fewer posts like it, which usually isn’t what you intend!)
4. Filter Posts By Keyword, User, Type, etc.
I don’t want to see any post about certain topics. Ever. Maybe you don’t want to see anything about the World Cup. Maybe you haven’t caught up yet on Breaking Bad and don’t want to see any spoilers. Everyone probably has a list of things they just don’t care to ever read about.
Facebook should allow users to filter their news feed by keyword, user, post type, etc. Right now the only control we have is to unfollow friends or Pages, which isn’t the granularity we need. I want entire topics hidden from me, because I don’t care to ever see them.
Social Fixer offers the ability to filter posts in your feed by keyword, post type, author, etc. It can hide the posts, change how they appear, or move them into tabs. But it only works on posts you see on desktop. Filtering should be built into Facebook on the server side, so it works everywhere. But they don’t even like the idea of filtering, because in the past they have tried to force me to remove it as a feature.
5. Turn Off Comments / Likes on Posts
Sometimes a comment thread goes south, particularly in Groups or Pages. You just want to say “NO MORE COMMENTS!” and stop it, but you can’t. People continue arguing and posting, and there isn’t any way to stop them. There needs to be.
Or have you ever posted about a thought or event, perhaps something sad, just to share with others but not necessarily seeking out endless “so sorry to hear that” or other messages that almost demand your acknowledgment? The ability to turn off Likes and Comments from the start would let people know that a response isn’t needed, whether it be about you having a bad day or a picture of your dinner.
6. Message Filtering And Mass Delete
I get a lot of junk Messages in my “Other” inbox on Facebook. At least 50 a day, usually more. The UI for reading and cleaning out the list of messages is horrible, with no way to select a bunch of messages and delete them all. This is really inconvenient. It’s so painful to delete all this junk mail that I usually just don’t, so I end up missing some real messages.
Even better would be a way to setup message filters, just like Gmail filters. Let me kick most of the messages to the trash before I ever see them, based on a few simple keyword filters. That would save me a lot of time.
(Yes, that’s my actual “Other” inbox. I get TONS of junk mail every day.)
7. "Saved" Posts
When I see a link posted on my phone, I want to save it to read later on my desktop. Or if I’m on the desktop and see posts I want to come back later, there is no way to tag these posts as being something I want to save for later. This would be very convenient!
Social Fixer offers a way to send links and posts to Pocket, a popular content-saving site/app that works very well. But it doesn’t work on mobile, and doesn’t save the content within Facebook itself. Facebook should have a built-in way to save posts for later.
8. Searchable History
I want to search my entire post history and everything that has appeared in my news feed by keyword. I’m sure this would be a monumental technical challenge from the Facebook development side, but if Google can index the entire web, can’t Facebook just let me find that post I saw from Bobby last week about Black Holes?
9. Tell Me When I Am Unfriended
Oooh, what a “controversial” feature! Facebook doesn’t want you to know who unfriends you, as I explained a while ago in a blog post. They actually forced me to remove this feature from Social Fixer, because they say it creates a “negative user experience”.
But there are actually a number of valid reasons for wanting to know when someone disconnects from you, and I don’t think it’s any of Facebook’s business if I or anyone else wants to know when it happens.
If they can tell me in my news feed that Friend X posted a personal message on Friend Y’s wall, which I couldn’t possibly care less about, I don’t see why they can’t tell me when a friend I’ve been connected to for years drops off the Facebook Planet.
10. Temporary "Mute" For Friends
Sometimes friends get really annoying for a short period of time. Maybe it’s 50 posts about their amazing life-changing vacation, or public love notes to their spouse around their anniversary, or 5 pictures a day of their new cat. It doesn’t matter. We’ve all seen it.
Facebook should allow me to temporarily “mute” a friend for a while, so I see nothing from them in my news feed. Then, after a few days or a week or whatever, they show back up and hopefully have moved on to a new topic. This sure beats unfollowing them completely, then forgetting to add them back and feeling awkward when they ask if you saw the post they made about their cat dying. Oops.
11. Photo Tag Approval White-List
This seems relatively minor compared to the others, but I want the ability to white list a group of people whose photo tags I automatically accept. If my wife, daughter, or parents post a picture and tag me in it, I want to always accept that. But anyone else? I want to approve that. I wish Facebook would give me the ability to set that up.
What Is Your Wish?
I’d like to hear your thoughts. Reply to THIS POST on Facebook by adding a comment and let your voice be heard.
And if you aren’t a user of Social Fixer, be sure you give it a try. It may not be able to do some of the things above, but it can do a lot of other things!
-- Matt Kruse, user-advocate and developer of Social Fixer