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Network Overload: How to Get Smart About Social Media

Three steps to cleaner feeds and better privacy settings.

We are living in an era of extreme FOMO, more commonly known as Fear of Missing Out. As the tweets, Facebook status updates, check-ins, Instagram photos, and Tumblr posts pour in, it can start to feel like your friends, coworkers, and even your frenemies lead lives that are infinitely more interesting than yours. Social media is a blessing and a curse that way.

Don’t let FOMO ruin your life! Here's how to be a smarter social media user.

Step 1: Triage.

How many social networks are you a part of? Make a list. What is your level on participation on each? What are you gaining from each? Do you really need to be on all of them?

Even if you decide you want to maintain a presence on a given network, it's a good idea to evaluate your level of participation. Just because you're on Twitter doesn't mean you need to read every single tweet in your feed. Just because you're on Facebook doesn't mean you need to update every single day. Which networks are most important to you, personally and professionally? Even after answering these questions, sometimes a little tough love is required to tame unwieldy networks. Which brings us to step two...

Step 2: Delete.

Go through the list of people you follow on Facebook and Twitter, and through the list of pages that you “like” on Facebook. Don't feel bad about defriending or unfollowing. My general rule is that if I don’t remember a person or haven’t had any interactions with them in a while, its fine to remove them as contacts. It's also a good idea to go through your Facebook message inboxes (yes, there are two of them).

Step 3: Refresh.

This is a perfect opportunity to scroll through your Facebook wall and consider the larger story it tells about you. Don't like what you see? Delete comments or updates you don’t like, and untag yourself from embarrassing pictures. Pro tip: you can avoid some embarrassment by changing your settings so that you can review anything your friends tag you in before those posts appear on your timeline. From your Home page dropdown menu go to Privacy Setting > How you connect> Timeline and Tagging.

You can review all pending posts from the activity log on your page. Find it in the top righthand corner of your profile page:

From here you can approve or delete all activity. Simple, right?

Don't forget to clean up your apps permissions, too. You’d be surprised how many apps have access to your private information. MyPermissions is a very useful bookmark that links directly to app permissions pages for services like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google. You can conveniently see which sites can access your information, and revoke access if you want to. MyPermissions also offers a nifty If This Then That (ifft) service to send you monthly email reminders to check your permissions, so you can be sure to keep things clean.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user luc legay.

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