A large number of people use Facebook solely for the purpose of keeping in touch with their friends – it’s original purpose, if I remember correctly. Since they don’t care about any fish games or virtual animal farms, it’s annoying when they log onto Facebook only to find their homepage cluttered with notifications, Mafia Wars requests and other useless noise. What if I was to tell you that you can bypass all this clutter and get straight to the meaningful things, and all that without even logging onto Facebook?
Most of us use RSS feed readers to go through our daily reading list of things like favorite blogs, news, etc. We can go a step ahead and use the same old Google reader or Bloglines or any other RSS reader to go through our friend’s Facebook updates, notes and notifications sans the rubbish that’s found on the default homepage. The idea here is that we use the Facebook URL’s to just retrieve the information that we want to see and in the process avoiding the zillion application requests which we have no interest in.
Let’s get started.
First up, open up your favorite RSS reader. My reader of choice here is the uber cool and refreshingly simple Google reader. If you already signed up for Gmail, you can start using Google reader right away. simply log onto reader.Google.com
Now log into your Facebook account. We need to retrieve those links from your Facebook account which will send all the constantly updating information to our RSS reader. Lets go through these links one by one.
Go to http://www.facebook.com/posted.php. Look towards the right and you will find a link which says “My Friend’s link.” Click it.
Copy that link and add it to your Google Reader (look for the “add a subscription” button). This URL will update your Feedreader with any links, video’s or images that your friends post.
To subscribe to Notes posted by your friends go to http://www.facebook.com/notes.php. This URL shows you all the notes your friends have posted through the Notes app which is installed by default on every Facebook account. Again, look towards the right and you will find a link called “My friends’ Notes.” Copy that and feed it in your Google reader. Following these two steps your Google reader should now be able to pull your friends’ posts and notes from your Facebook account.
Go to http://www.facebook.com/notifications.php. At This URL you will find information like, who commented on your status, who likes your photo, who replied to your comment on their picture, etc.
Towards the right you will see text which says “subscribe to notifications.” Copy the link below it which says ‘via rss’ and again, feed it into your Google reader
This is what all of us are most interested in. Our friends’ status updates. Retrieving those gets a bit trickier here. Facebook doesn’t reveal a direct link to them so we will have to construct this by using one of the URL’s we used previously. For e.g. Take the ‘Notes’ URL we used above. In that long URL you copy you will find the text which says “friends_notes”. Change that to “friends_status.” Leave the part of the URL before and after that as it is and feed it into your RSS reader. Ta Da, you RSS reader can now pull Friends status updates directly from Facebook.
After entering these 4 URL’s in your RSS reader you will be able to access most of the interesting Facebook updates of your friends directly from the clutter free Google reader interface.
Another use of this method is for people who don’t have access to Facebook at work. For obvious reasons most people won’t be able to access Facebook at their workplace, however access to one of the many RSS readers online is sure to be available. The best part is that with the serious work-looking interface most RSS readers have, the boss will never suspect anything fishy going on. Not to mention that this method will also save you precious time which you’d otherwise would spend get distracting by a million other things on Facebook. It’s high-time you mowed that lawn after all.