Hidden Facebook Features

August 5, 2016

Tools are great – never have I pondered the contents of my workbench without a smile on my face. Perhaps I’m utilitarian. Nevertheless, having a feature-rich device or platform that can be leveraged to ease the flow of work is certainly helpful. Perhaps even better than tools themselves are their unintended, or even hidden, functions. Recently I was trying to solve a problem with a post that was made to Facebook, and discovered one such hidden function. This spurred in me a desire to compile a list of my favorite lesser-known Facebook features – things that are great for everyday users and marketers alike.

Message Requests

Anyone who has used Facebook for more than an hour is sure to know about the inbox system. Private messages can be sent to individual friends, groups of friends, businesses and pages alike. Sometimes, though, messages will travel between non-connected persons – for instance, a friend of a friend – and these messages are treated a bit differently.

message-requestsBy default, Facebook sends any messages from people on your friends’ list to your main inbox. You get a notification on your computer or phone, and voila – behold a message. But if someone isn’t directly in your circle, their message will get filtered into a secondary inbox. This was recently renamed ‘Message Requests,’ but the functionality for this message sorting has existed for a while. To check your message requests, from a browser, click on the Messages dropdown, and look for the appropriate tab (it should say Message Requests). Click it, and congratulations, you’re now viewing your subordinate messages. Anything here can be ‘approved,’ meaning you accept the request, and further updates should then be sent to your main inbox. This allows for easier contact with individuals and organizations outside of your main circle.

ad-preferences-settingsAd Creation

Another fantastic feature on Facebook is one that is both interesting and a bit creepy. Born in the wake of liking pages, shaped by the content you partake in and share across Facebook and beyond, are the Things You Like. Okay, they’re actually called Ad Preferences, and they’re not necessarily things you actually like, but things that Facebook perceives you to like. To find them, head into your Settings, and go to the Ads section. From here there should be an Ad Preferences option which leads you to this page:

ad-preferences-panel

Categorized neatly for your viewing pleasure are the preferences you have accrued on Facebook. What does this mean to you, as a user? Well, it means many things. These preferences are used to tweak the population of your Facebook Feed – you’re more likely to see things that you have preferences for, and less likely to see things that you don’t have preferences about. These items are all taken into consideration when ads appear for you on Facebook and elsewhere on the web, as well. Ads are tailored to your preferences in the hopes that you’ll buy something. Seeing a lot of ads that don’t interest you? Check your preferences, and tune them to the real you.


Facebook has a lot of great features, but before I move on to my most recent find (a trick that I now hold near and dear), here are some honorable mentions:

  • Managing Account Activity – see where you’re logged in, and remotely log out – great for those times your forget to log out on a public computer.
  • Memorializing Your Account – should the unthinkable happen, you can select certain close friends to be managers of your page, either to close the account or memorialize it.
  • Notes – These detailed post-types still exist! Check out facebook.com/notes.
  • Relationship Goals – see the posts you share with your significant other by visiting facebook.com/us.
  • Custom App Icons – worthy of a post of its own, the apps that you have linked on your page can be customized in appearance. Forget the placeholder icons, make your own!

And without further ado…

Refresh Attachments

This is it, the mother of all features – something that single-handedly saved me from about five minutes of extra work and the loss of a minimal amount of significant data: The Great ‘Refresh Attachment’ Button.

Let’s say you posted a fantastic blog post to your page. But, oh no! The featured OpenGraph image isn’t loading, so your post is less visually appealing! What do you do? You can certainly delete the post, but if anyone has seen it or interacted with it, you might lose that data.

Luckily for you, so long as you fix the OpenGraph tags and image on your link, you can actually refresh the attachment without having to delete and/or repost it. This feature is actually a little hidden, but isn’t too hard to find.

First, get to the direct page for the post in question – this is the page that will only contain the post and its comments (kind of like going to the page for a specific image on Facebook). This can easily be achieved by clicking on the ‘Time Posted:’

time-postedmore-optionsoptions

From here, you’ll get some extra options in the Options dropdown at the top right of your post. Under ‘More Options,’ find the one that says ‘Refresh Attachment.’ Click it. Bask in the glory of your now-corrected post. Revel in the delight of not having to delete things. Cheer the great developers behind Facebook for including such functionality.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for Facebook? Let us know, and we’ll feature them in a relevant blog post!

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Gary is a team member at Sephone, helping to design, build and maintain websites. He is also a web design student at the New England School of Communications of Husson University.

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