Forgetting Facebook and annulling notifications

Facebook had become a real pain late last year. Somehow I survived the waves of sheer hatred and disinformation that had washed through it during and after the Brexit referendum, but by the autumn I had had enough. It was consuming over an hour of every day, precious little of which was about friends, with content that was annoying, unwanted, and frustratingly uncontrollable.

For this blog, it had also become nugatory effort. Although WordPress’s automatic posts have consistently worked on Twitter, Facebook kept changing its acceptance of them, and I ended up having to post them all manually.

At times they triggered some inscrutable filter, and no matter what I did kept bouncing because of their content. Yet many of the posts that I had to scroll through on my timeline were overtly offensive. Those of my posts which got through vanished quickly from timelines as they were swamped by other, mainly paid-for, content, and the endless supply of mindless video clips.

I am always delighted when those who read my blog are kind enough to announce its articles on their timelines, and am grateful for every effort you make to publicise these pages. But late last year I realised that my only solution was to leave Facebook well alone, unless it was the only means by which I could contact someone in an emergency.

Considering the amount of claimed ‘artifical intelligence’ and other ‘smart’ thinking which is supposed to go into social media, Facebook’s response to my absence has only strengthened my resolve to not return. Every day since, I have faced its steady bombardment with announcements as to what I have been missing, and telling me what will greet my seemingly inevitable return.

You now have 76 new notifications, 4 unread messages, 23 friend requests…

As if to underline, rather than undermine, my determination, Facebook has repeated these reminders as to why I don’t want Facebook for the last six months. They come as emails, and as notifications. I quickly fixed those on my iPhone, but somehow was very slow to turn off notifications to my Mac. Just in case you are in a similar position, with unwanted notifications, here’s a quick reminder of how little you need to do to fix it:


Open the Notifications pane. Select Facebook (or any other offending service) at the left. Deselect the two checkboxes, and select the lefthand alert style labelled None.

It’s no more than six clicks or taps to peace.

Of course Facebook’s email messages still arrive, but we’re all used to deleting plenty of such spam.

So I apologise if you’re waiting for me to respond to you on Facebook: although I doubt that I’ll close my account, you will have to wait an indeterminately long period for your response. Try me on Twitter instead: @howardnoakley

That may seem even more paradoxical, but the way that I access Twitter I see no adverts or promotions, only the tweets of those whom I choose to follow. I don’t use any of Twitter’s clients, though, except on my iPhone, where I only infrequently look at my full feed. Tweetbot and my selectivity have served me well on my Mac. I see the BBC’s Breaking News not Fox’s, and get the latest hot info on Mac security threats thanks to @patrickwardle, @iamevltwin and others, not alarmist panic passed third-hand.

Gone are the endless, mindless, but fiendishly compelling clips of cats doing somersaults to cucumbers, ships capsizing, and all the other dross that filled my timeline. Giving up Facebook and TV (another story another time) really has given me back a lot of every day.