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With more than 2 billion users to its name, Facebook is buzzing with activity—particularly if several hundred of those users happen to be friends with you. Between wedding photos of friends-of-friends-of-friends, angry articles from your political uncle, and all-caps updates from the girl you haven’t seen since middle school, your News Feed can get cluttered with information you couldn’t care less about. Don’t settle for reading every other post—here’s how to streamline your feed so it will only show the people and news you actually care about.

Unfollow your friends

The options for unfollowing a friend on Facebook.
Sorry, not sorry, Sophie. David Nield

Facebook includes more options than you might think for tweaking your News Feed, including the ability to unfollow your friends. This isn’t the same as unfriending someone; you’ll stay friends with them but their posts won’t appear in your feed. It’s perfect if you want to occasionally check up on or message people, but aren’t interested in the minutiae of their daily lives. And don’t worry—they won’t know you’ve unfollowed them.

Click on the three horizontal dots next to any post in your News Feed and choose the Unfollow option to unfollow your friend. Alternatively, go to your friend’s profile page, click the Friends button at the top, and choose Unfollow from the drop-down menu.

See fewer posts from someone

The options on Facebook when you choose to hide a post.
Hiding posts can help you escape annoying ads or ignore frustrating friends. David Nield

Let’s say you don’t want to see as many posts from someone, but you’d still like to get the occasional update. Instead of unfollowing that friend, you can opt to see fewer posts from them. You’ll find this setting via the same drop-down menu as the unfollow option: in the top right of any post in the News Feed. Click Hide post, and you won’t see as many posts from that person in the future. If you hide a post from an ad or a Page, you won’t hear about it again.

When you hide a sponsored post, rather than something from one of your friends, Facebook asks for some feedback about why you took the action you did. It uses your response to decide which ads to serve you in the future. Click through on the Manage Your Ad Preferences link to take more control over the ads Facebook shows you (see below for more on this).

Prioritize your close friends

Facebook's options for creating a Close Friends list.
Prioritize your close friends so your News Feed shows more of the things you care about. David Nield

In any group of acquaintances, there will be some people you care about more than others. To help you focus on your nearest and dearest, Facebook creates a custom friends list for you called Close Friends. Updates from anyone in this select group will always prompt a notification (if you’ve got them enabled) and put the post high up in your News Feed. Fortunately for your friends’ self-esteem, they won’t know whether or not they’re on your Close Friends list.

To set up your list, look at the scrollable menu on the left side of the screen. Click See More and find the Friend Lists option. Click that, then the Close Friends link. You can add or remove friends via the Edit List button in the top right. While you’re there, you might notice that Facebook has suggested other lists for you, such as mere acquaintances. More on that feature below.

Set up your own friend lists

Creating a custom friend list on Facebook.
Don’t let Facebook tell you what to do—set up your own friend list. David Nield

You don’t have to settle for the friend lists Facebook makes for you. Click Create List from the friend lists screen, and you can make a group based on the buddies you play cards with, the relatives you’re closest to, or any other mix of people you like.

The lists you make for yourself won’t affect how often you see your friends in your News Feed, but you can bookmark each list and use them as alternatives to the main News Feed. This way, you’ll see only updates from people on that list.

As an added bonus, whenever you share something on Facebook, you can limit the audience to any one of the lists you’ve created. For example, you might want to tweak your settings so only your closest friends and relatives will see all the baby photos you’re uploading.

Choose who you see first

Facebook's options for choosing which friends' posts you see first on your News Feed.
Chris always has good posts, but Christopher doesn’t, so make sure you pick the right one. David Nield

If you’d rather not get notifications each time your close friends post, you can use a different setting to choose who comes first in your News Feed. Click the down arrow in the top right of the Facebook’s web page, open Settings & Privacy, and select News Feed Preferences. The top option lets you set who you’ll see first in your News Feed. Just click to select any of the suggestions Facebook gives you.

This works a lot like Close Friends, but unlike Close Friends, you won’t get notifications about everything these friends do—their posts will just be prioritized in the News Feed. Again, your friends won’t get any alerts about how you’re sorting them, so you don’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings.

View posts in chronological order

Facebook gives you the option to view the most recent stories instead of those it thinks you will like.
If you want to see the newest posts, this is the option for you. David Nield

Another option for your feed is to switch to seeing posts in chronological order. On the web, go to the scrollable menu on the left-hand side of the screen and click See More. Then click Most Recent. This will resort your News Feed so the newest posts are at the top.

Unlike the tips we’ve already mentioned, this actually gives you less control over what you see in your News Feed. But it’s still a useful way of switching up what’s displayed, and perhaps seeing updates from people you haven’t checked in on for a while. To go back to the normal view, click the Home icon (a house) at the top of the screen, or the Facebook icon in the top left.

Adjust your ad settings

Adjust your ad settings
Adjust your ad settings David Nield/Popular Science

Facebook uses a lot of personal data to decide which ads to display on your News Feed. To view and edit some of this information, click the drop-down menu arrow at the right end of the top toolbar on the Facebook site. Pick Settings & Privacy from the list, then choose Settings, and select Ads from the menu on the left to open the Ads Preferences page.

From here, you can edit a lot of different options. Click Ad SettingsCategories used to reach you, and Interest Categories to see what Facebook thinks you like, and click the Remove button next to any interest to eliminate it. From this same menu, you can prevent Facebook from serving ads based on details such as your relationship status or job title. Back on the Ads Preferences page, behind the Advertisers option and Advertisers Whose Ads You’ve Clicked button, it’s possible to block ads from certain companies.

Facebook can also serve you ads based on what you do on sites and apps beyond the social network, and it goes the other way as well: Your behavior on Facebook can affect which ads you see when you’re browsing around the rest of the internet. To enable or disable either of these options, go to the main Ad Preferences page, open Ad Settings, and check out Data about your activity from partners and Ads shown off of Facebook. There, you’ll also find an outline of each option and what it means.

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