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Sure, you use Facebook, but do you own Facebook? Can you make it do anything you want it to do? And, yes, you tweet. Many tech enthusiasts do. But can you slap Twitter around like a ragdoll and bend it to your will? And what about LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+? We all use these social media tools to some degree or another—sometimes daily, sometimes hourly, and (for the truly desperate) sometimes by the minute. But like most Interweb travelers, even hardcore hardware enthusiasts suffer knowledge deficits in the social media department. We can recite CPU thermal specs as quickly as Star Trek dialogue, but we’re surprisingly lackadaisical in terms of social media mastery.
Enough is enough. It’s time to dig into the nooks, crannies, and feature-packed nether regions of today’s five hottest social media services. We’ll also reminisce over failed services in a virtual Social Media Walk of Shame, as well as dig deep into the hardware of the largest social media site online.
Social media? Yep, we dig it. Who says tech geeks can’t be fun and friendly?
So you think you're a Facebook master, eh? Maybe you've crossed the 1k friendship barrier, or perhaps you've even created a fan page dedicated to yourself for the entire Internet to quote-unquote like. Well, simmer down, young Padawan. You've only touched the surface of Facebook's power. With the tips we're about to show you, you'll rise through the ranks to Facebook Sith Lord in no time!
PICK YOUR NEW NAME
Similar to when a Sith picks his or her new name upon turning super-evil, you too can select a clever alternate name for people to search within Facebook. Go to Facebook’s home page > Account > Account Settings. On the screen that follows, click the Edit button next to the Name field. Under Alternative Name, type in whatever clever moniker you want people to be able to find you by. Please note: Darth PC is now taken.
For years, Facebook offered you no way to create an archive of everything that you’ve posted—or have been tagged in. But now you can hit up your Facebook home page > Account > Account Settings to start your trip down memory lane. When you reach the screen that follows, click the "Download a copy of your facebook data" link. Your personal Facebook archive awaits. You even get an HTML-based index of your digital life’s content!
SURF FACEBOOK SECURELY
We don’t have to tell you about the wonderfully life-shattering things that can happen when someone is using Firesheep to pilfer your Facebook login credentials over an open wireless network. Luckily, you can prevent this and other web-related security issues by surfing Facebook securely. Click Account > Account Settings > Security, then click Edit next to Secure Browsing and turn on that https option.
DOWNLOAD FRIENDS' EMAIL ADDRESSES
By default, Facebook doesn’t give you a method for downloading all your friends’ email addresses at once. To get around this, register a new account on Yahoo Mail, and then click the Contacts tab within the web app. Select Import Contacts, then Facebook, and link these two accounts together. Once completed, click Contacts > Actions > Export All to dump your Facebook friends’ email addresses info into various file formats.
Once you’ve imported your friends to your Yahoo account as new contacts, you can then import these people into a brand-new Google+ account—should you so desire.
Mice are for sissies! Real Facebook power users browse the site using nothing but their keyboards. Hold down Alt if you’re surfing in Chrome or Internet Explorer, or Alt + Shift if you’re browsing in Firefox, and then tap the following keys to jump around Facebook: “?” to warp your active cursor to Facebook’s search bar; “m” to open up a new message window; and the numbers 1 through 0 to access all sorts of pages, including your Profile, your Account Settings, and your Messages, to name a few.
POWER-DOWNLOAD PHOTOS AND VIDEOS
Want to grab all of your photos (and photos in which others have tagged you) in one big, downloadable package? First, download and install an application called Fotobounce. Fire it up and click the Login button under the Facebook heading on the app’s left-hand sidebar. Link up your Facebook account, and then select a folder for your Fotobounce library when prompted by the program’s center window. Now click the Photos option under your name in the Facebook menu within the app’s sidebar. From here, select photos in your own Facebook albums, right-click the images, and select Download to transfer them en masse to an album within Fotobounce.
Fotobounce helps you suck down all the photos sitting in your Facebook account. It doesn't care if you've posted them, or if someone else did and simply tagged you in them.
It’s actually a lot easier to download your videos off of Facebook. Chrome users will want to install the extension Facebook Video Downloader to open brand-new options for saving videos to your desktop. Just be aware that you can’t download videos you’ve been tagged in—only your own. Firefox users should check out the add-on Video DownloadHelper for similar functionality.
LOCK DOWN YOUR ACCOUNT
Want to control which devices and PCs have access to your Facebook? Click Account > Account Settings > Security, and then click Edit on the Recognized Devices menu. Here you’ll find all the various digital devices that you (or others) have used to access your Facebook account. Remove anything you don’t recognize!
Once you’ve done that, click the Login Approvals menu and select the “Require me to enter a security code” option. This goes hand-in-hand with the list you just paired down: Now that you have specified exactly which devices are allowed access to your account, you can ensure that any new devices requesting access will be forced to pass through a two-way authentication system via your mobile device. So now, if you get an access request out of nowhere, you’ll be able to stop the unauthorized user dead in his or her tracks.
FIND AND BOOT UNAUTHORIZED USERS
If you’re curious as to who is currently accessing your Facebook account (and who might have recently accessed it), click the Active Sessions menu within the aforementioned Security Settings screen. Facebook will give you a list, sorted by location and device type, of the most recent places where someone logged into your account. You can use the End Activity option to sever the connection for any active sessions you don’t recognize. (And if you find yourself doing that, you’ll want to give your password a good change, as well.)
THE ULTIMATE CONTROL ZONE
Go to Facebook’s home page > Friends > Manage Friend List > Create a List to establish specific groups of friends that you want to award customized profile access to. You can then configure a list by hitting up Account > Privacy Settings > Customize Settings, and then selecting the Custom option under any of the drop-down privacy menus.
If you want to prevent friends from checking you into places (and showing random Facebook strangers where you are), uncheck the "Include me in 'People here now'" option on this screen. You can also prevent Facebook’s auto-recognition capabilities from suggesting your face in your friends’ photos. Click the Edit Settings button under the "Suggest photos of me to my friends" option, and disable this feature via the drop-down menu.
You can also use friend groups to banish annoying (or work-related!) friends from ever seeing that you’re logged into Facebook in the first place. Within the Facebook Chat sidebar, click the Settings gear icon > Limit Availability. From there, just pick the groups you want to appear invisible to on Facebook Chat. Or, conversely, pick the groups you do want to appear available to.
Your friends might be unwittingly sharing information about you when they use third-party apps. To limit the information third-party apps and websites can access about you, click Account > Privacy Settings and under Apps and Websites, click Edit Your Settings. In the next screen, click the Edit Settings button under "Info accessible through your friends." Configure as you see fit!