How to cut down on social media clutter with Facebook and Twitter lists

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Social networks have made it increasingly easier to chat, share pictures and read about those around you. But there are so many conversations going on within these networks that sometimes it can be difficult to wade through the noise and find a stream that you are truly interested in.

Facebook and Twitter have features that can help you sift through the clutter. 


Ever wanted to follow updates from a large group of people at one time? Facebook has a new feature that enables you to subscribe to a group of people all at once. It's called a list, and here's Facebook's official explanation of how it works.

You might already be using lists to limit who sees what on your Facebook profile. They are great for secretly grouping your family, coworkers and high school buddies into different categories so that you can selectively share what you post. Your cousin in Pennsylvania may like to see the pictures of your recent birthday party, but you might not feel comfortable sharing those photos with your boss or coworkers. So, you would only share your birthday album with your “family” list.

Creating a list allows you to not only selectively share but also to selectively read. You can sort updates that your family and friends are posting separately from the updates made by the brands you follow or sports publications you enjoy. Think of it as creating separate sections of your own personal newspaper. The lists you create or subscribe to are displayed on the left side of your Facebook page under the Interests heading.

Subscribing to a public list enables you to add content to your newsfeed beyond the photos and posts made by your family and friends. Lists can give you an overview of what a group of people are talking about, without having to individually “friend” each and everyone of them.

There are tons of lists based on hobbies, mutual interests or upcoming events. For example, we created this list for the 2012 General Election of every publicly available candidate or campaign Facebook page. By subscribing to the list, you see all the updates made by the candidates and campaigns in one location. If you've had enough, you can unsubscribe with one click.


The list feature exists on Twitter as well. Twitter lists essentially pull together the tweets of a group of people and display them in one location.

Check out this list of Mid Missouri Media outlets curated by KOMU News, or this one of Columbia people and organizations by the Missourian’s director of community outreach, Joy Mayer.

When you follow a list, you aren’t actually following every single member of that list. In fact, the tweets of the members of the list won't even make it onto your main feed. The tweets made by those on the list live in a separate feed from the tweets of the individual people you have chosen to follow. For example, if you chose to follow a list, like this one of the Southeastern Conference media outlets that the newsroom created to stay on top of what is happening in other SEC towns, then you would need to go to your Twitter profile page and select the Lists tab on the left side of your page in order to see a timeline of tweets made by the members of the SEC media list.  

The ability to separate feeds and create lists cuts down on tweet overload.

You can create a list that groups people together however you want (your favorite celebrities, news outlets or family for example). These grouped tweet streams allow you to hone in on a group, so you don’t miss out on what’s happening with them. You can view one stream alone in a browser window.

Check out the Missourian's Twitter list for the 2012 General election. The list features the Twitter accounts of the candidates affecting Boone County. 

We have also created a Twitter list of MU’s 2012 Football players, and we use it to offer weekly peeks into the conversations the athletes are having online.

Could you use guidance navigating your news? Let supervising editor Joy Mayer know how we can help.

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