You can solve several of your top gripes with Twitter and Facebook by using free, downloadable tools. For those days when you see the glass as half-empty, one tool tracks when people "unfriend" you.
By Kristin Burnham
By no means are Twitter and Facebook perfect: You might wish that Facebook made it more intuitive to hide FarmVille or certain status updates. Or, maybe you wish that Twitter would introduce a new feature like nested tweets. Good news: For many of these website tweaks or suggestions, there’s likely to be a script you can download to fit the bill.
Here are my top eight picks for Facebook and Twitter add-ons. Many of these solve common user gripes (such as not knowing to what site shortened URLs will bring you on Twitter). Some, like “Facebook Fixer,” enhance the site and allow you to customize it beyond standard options. Do note that most of these scripts require that you first download Greasemonkey, and not all are compatible with every browser, so be sure to check the requirements before you download a script.
This script lets you customize your Facebook account and offers many features that are enabled by default, but can be enabled or disabled independently. Some of these features include: larger profile and album pictures; homepage customization where you can hide independent sections such as pokes, suggestions and “connect with friends”; and calendar integration, which includes a link on each profile that synchs birthdays with Google Calendar, or the option to export a file with all your friends’ birthdays, which can be imported into sites such as Google Calendar, Yahoo, Apple iCal, Microsoft Outlook and more.
2. Facebook Purity.
The Facebook Purity script cleans up your homepage and removes all newsfeed items from third-party games such as Mafia Wars and FarmVille, and zaps announcements on who’s become friend with who, who’s attending a certain event, who joined a group and who became a fan of something. Optional items you can block include: comments on a status, photo, photo album or link; tags in a photo or photo album; and event postings.
Ever wonder if you’ve been dropped by a Facebook friend? Every time you log in, the script checks to see if someone is missing from your friend list. When the script detects someone is no longer your friend, you get a notification and a bubble counter in the Facebook toolbar. There are two types of “unfriends:” Either you removed them from your friend list or they removed you (but they’re still on Facebook), or they deactivated their account and are no longer on Facebook. If they reactivate their account, you’ll also be notified.
4. No Facebook Ads.
If you’re tired of the age-targeted ads Facebook runs, take advantage of this script. Downloading it will remove ads from your Facebook account—including flyer ads, network ads, bumper ads—leaving its appearance a lot cleaner.
While URL shorteners do save space on Twitter, you’re often clicking at your own risk—phishing scams and spam-laden direct messages are becoming more and more common on the microblogging site. This script decodes the shortened URLs on Twitter’s website and displays the original URL, so you can decide whether or not to click.
This Twitter script does it all. Among its many features: expansion of Links in tweets; inline inclusion of YouTube videos and Twitpic images; nested tweets; option to save, reply to or retweet a tweet when you hover over it; autocompletion of a username when you begin typing “@” in a tweet and much more.
If you hate Twitter’s retweet button and long for the old method, this script will convert all retweet symbols and user pictures into “RT @username.” Note that this script only works in Safari and Firefox.
Staff Writer Kristin Burnham covers consumer Web and social technologies for CIO.com. She writes frequently on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. You can follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.