For the longest time, even after a lot of my friends started using it, I avoided Facebook. I knew what it was about, but wasn’t sure I’d really enjoy it. To me, as a non-user looking at it from the outside, Facebook just seemed like it would lead to a lot of wasted time, spent with people I hadn’t kept in touch with for many years. And truthfully, there is a lot of that! But Facebook, as I’ve kept using it, is a pretty valuable platform, as long as you can get past the junk. And by “junk” I mean all the updates, wall postings and extras that don’t really have anything to do with updates my friends posted. Stuff like reaching a new level on whatever Facebook game my friend plays, or advancing in Farmville, or answering a quiz. This is stuff I don’t generally care about, and while Facebook does make it possible to block posts from individual applications, it is a step that has to be repeated for every single application.
Thankfully, there are all kinds of web browser extensions in existence with the sole aim of making Facebook a more streamlined experience. I’ve previously written about one called Better Facebook, an extension for Google Chrome. But I use more than just Google Chrome; I also have Firefox and Opera installed, and while Chrome is the default, I do enough browsing in other browsers that I started looking for an extension for them as well. And I was happy to have found F.B. Purity. I tried out F.B. Purity in Opera, but it is also available for Firefox, Chrome and Safari.
What does F.B. Purity do? It allows the user to get rid of all kinds of different elements that for some people are nothing but clutter. There is a list available at the Opera Extensions page for F.B. Purity (which stands for Fluff Busting Purity, by the way), which is a bit too long to reproduce here, but it allows items like “So and so became friends with..” or “So and so liked or became a fan of…” or “So and so joined…” or… so on. It allows me to hide items that might be interesting, but aren’t necessarily as important to me as updates my friends post manually.
In addition to the types of posts mentioned above which can be hidden using F.B. Purity, event notifications can be hidden. So if someone creates an event, posts that they will be attending an event, or that they already attended an event, those types of updates can be hidden. Similarly, updates about updates can be hidden. By that I mean an update that posts automatically whenever a user updates his/her profile, or changes a profile pictures, changes his/her relationship status, and more. The common thread to most of the items that can be hidden is that the user “posting” these updates probably didn’t post them manually. If you change your profile picture, Facebook automatically posts an update saying as much. If you change your relationship status, Facebook again figures your friends want to know this. Same with games or many of the various applications available. A user can generally opt out of having an update created, but sometimes not, and not every user cares that these kinds of posts are clogging the regular timeline.
One of the other features not related to hiding posts is the ability many Facebook users will appreciate, and that is the option to change the font size used. Facebook recently made some updates, and one of the most visible was a smaller font size. This wasn’t all that popular, judging by the number of Internet posts about it, and for those people, F.B. Purity is a good solution.
Finally, users of F.B. Purity can create both a whitelist and a blacklist. The whitelist is for applications that would otherwise be hidden from view, that you do want to see. This could be a certain quiz, or Farmville, or a trivia game. F.B. Purity would generally hide application updates, but if you want to see a certain one, add it to the whitelist, and it won’t be hidden. Or, if you have a friend who constantly talks about something you don’t really like (a sports team, a particular politician), you can add keywords to your blacklist. F.B. Purity will then search regular updates for those words, and hide any that match.
All in all, I’m quite happy with F.B. Purity. It doesn’t have nearly as many configuration options as Better Facebook, a Facebook “cleaning” extension for Google Chrome, but it’s also not as time-consuming to get up and running. It has a simple options page, and works very well. It clears out the clutter, and makes Facebook a much more streamlined experience, and a lot more fun to use.