BETTER FACEBOOK
FAQ
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Contents

Google Ad:

Problems and Error Messages

Features, Functionality, and Information

Security and Privacy

Is This Thing Legit?

Yes.

Better Facebook is a personal project of the author, Matt Kruse. I am the sole programmer, designer, tester, documentation-writer, and marketer. You can view my personal site or even search Google for my name to see that I have been doing this stuff for a long time, and my reputation is solid. I build it because I love to create things, and this is my creative outlet. I've been working on it in my free time since 2009 and there are tens of thousands of people who use it every day.

Better Facebook has been written about on Lifehacker, ComputerWorld, and InsideFacebook.com

And rest assured - Better Facebook will not compromise your privacy or security, and it won't insert ads, spam, porn, or malware. There are no viruses or spyware. The code is safe.

Does Better Facebook compromise my privacy or security?

No and No. And it never will!

Better Facebook is a javascript program that runs in your browser when you are logged into Facebook. It does run as you, and the program has access to your information that is displayed on the page - it needs to in order to process it all! This is standard for any browser script or extension.

Requests are made back to the Facebook servers to retrieve your personal data like your friends list, groups, etc. This data is stored in your browser and nowhere else! (See Where are my preferences stored?). None of your data is ever transmitted to any other site, nor stored anywhere but in your browser. The only requests made to non-Facebook servers are the requests made to BetterFacebook.net to check for new versions and to check for any important messages that need to be displayed. No uniquely identifying information is ever sent - only your current version number in order to check for updates. The check for updates can be turned off in Options (but is of course not recommended).

None of your Facebook settings or data is ever changed by Better Facebook. It does not update your personal information, or your status, or your friends lists, or any other information about you or in your account. It only processes information - it never changes it.

If you have any other questions about privacy or security, please post to the Better Facebook Page and I will respond and update this FAQ.

Does Better Facebook insert ads, spam, porn, or malware?

Absolutely not. And it never will!

Some other Facebook scripts do insert these things, and their actions are sometimes incorrectly attributed to Better Facebook. Some add-ons that are known to cause problems are:

  • SocialPlus!
  • "I Don't Care" button
  • Facebook Cleaner
  • Faceplus

Something isn't working! What's wrong? How do I debug the problem?

First, understand that Facebook often has glitches and problems on its own. Many problems that users think are caused by BFB are actually just Facebook screwing up. To check, you can always disable BFB and see if the problem persists. You can also view Facebook's Known Problems page on Facebook to see if they are reporting any problems at the moment.

Second, understand that Facebook changes their code and page structure seemingly at random. BFB inspects the underlying code that Facebook delivers and looks for known structures in order to extract the information it needs. If the structure changes, then BFB may no longer be able to find the information it needs, and features may stop working. In these cases, I work as fast as I can to release a new version that takes into account these changes. Sometimes, changes are visible to some users and not others. If I don't see the change myself, it is very difficult for me to identify the change that Facebook has made and update the code accordingly. It may take some additional time, and I may need to get assistance from other BFB users. Read more at How It Works (and why it sometimes doesn't).

If you are pretty sure that the problem is caused by BFB, try to reproduce the problem to understand exactly what the cause is and under what circumstances it appears. Then post to the Better Facebook Page on Facebook.

If individual posts are showing that shouldn't, or posts are not being processed how you expect them to be, then click the "i" icon in the icon tray for the individual post. This will reveal some debug information that will be helpful in identifying the problem.

Does Better Facebook work with Internet Explorer?

No. IE is a bad browser. Do not use it. It is most vulnerable to viruses and spyware, and it lags behind most other browsers in capabilities. Seriously. Switch to Google Chrome at least!

Why do tabs for games sometimes appear and sometimes not?

The default behavior of BFB is to add tabs for each application that appears in the feed. This means that if there is a post from Farmville, for example, that a Farmville tab will be created and the post will be moved there. If there are no Farmville posts, the Farmville tab will not be created. So, the tabs that you see depend on what posts are actually in your feed at the moment. You may see a tab for a specific app right now, but later it may not be there. This is the correct behavior.

You can disable this default action in Options->Feed Filter and uncheck "Automatically move known App (those in list below) posts to their own tab"

If an application you use is not listed in the list of apps, and not auto-tabbed, then see this FAQ entry

What are Friend Circles and how do they work? What do I do if they don't work correctly?

Google Plus has been hailed for having a new way to manage friend groups, called Circles. Though Facebook has had Friend Lists for a long time, and they do similar things, the "Circles" buzz has gotten a lot of attention. So I decided to add the "Circles" concept to Facebook.

Simply, Circles are groups of your friends. The benefit of grouping your friends into Circles is that when you make a post, you can target it so only members of a certain group see it. Or perhaps all your friends see it except a certain group. You can make posts that your family can see, for example, but not your co-workers!

The Circles functionality added by Better Facebook is just a user interface layer over the existing Facebook Lists functionality. The main advantage is that the user interface is much simpler, and it's way fewer clicks to target a post to just certain groups or hidden from others.

By default, you have no Circles unless you have setup lists previously. You can click the "Edit Friend Circles" button to open CircleHack.com. This is a site built by Facebook engineers to emulate the Google Plus interface of adding friends to circles. If you would rather use the interface provided by Facebook directly, you can change this in the Chat tab of Options, to make the button use an alternate URL.

If you are having problems...

If your Circles buttons are not loading, the most likely cause is that you do not have third party cookies enabled. See this FAQ entry for how to enable 3rd party cookies. This is required for the Circles functionality to work.

How do I add an app to the list of "known" apps?

When you hover over a post, an "icon tray" will appear in the upper right corner of the post. When you moev your cursor over these icons, they become fully visible. (If this doesn't happen, make sure you have Options->Popular->"Show Post Action Icons on each post" checked).

Click the "+" icon to automatically add this application to your known list. It will then be automatically tabbed (if you have that option enabled) and will also show up in the list of applications when creating a Feed Filter. (It may appear at the bottom rather than alphabetically!)

A filter doesn't seem to be applied correctly. What is wrong?

First, go into Options->Filtering. Do you see filters listed at the bottom? Are the values in them correct? Look near the top of the same tab. Is "Enable Filters" checked?

If filters are enabled, then go to a specific post that you think should be filtered, but isn't. Hover over the post and click the "i" icon that appears in the upper right. This will make a box of debug information show up, like this:

Pasting the entire contents of this box (hopefully including the filtering debug info as highlighted in the example) along with your question will help.

If you are not seeing tabs for application posts (like Farmville, etc), make sure this is enabled in the first tab ("Popular") of Options: "Automatically move posts from Apps into their own tabs"

Finally, you may misunderstand how filters work. Filters only work on the posts that are on the page. If you have defined a filter for a specific type of post to move to a tab, but no posts match that filter, then no posts will be in that tab. Depending on your options, the tab may not even be created if there are no posts to put into it.

The Update Available Notification won't go away!

First, try clearing your browser's cache, restarting your browser, and verifying in the Options dialog that the version you are running is the current version.

Usually this means that you have BFB installed twice. This can happen when you update an extension and it doesn't remove the previous one. This is a known problem in Chrome, Safari, and Opera, for some users. Also, this could be caused by having the extension installed from Chrome Gallery, Opera's extension gallery, or Mozilla's Add-On Directory, but then updating with the version hosted on BetterFacebook.net. Your browser sees these as two different extensions, and installs the new one fresh and keeps the old one!

Check your extensions list for multiple versions, and remove any extras, leaving only the current version.

Why won't some posts stay hidden?

This is (usually) not Better Facebook misbehaving, but rather Facebook being glitchy.

Each post on Facebook has a unique ID that is called a "FBID". The FBID is delivered by Facebook in the source of the page, and it's what BFB uses to identify individual posts. When you mark a post as read, the FBID is recorded. But Facebook has a problem - when you reload the page and look at the FBID again for the same post, you'll see that it has changed! So BFB thinks this is a whole new post and shows it again. Every time you reload the page, the FBID will change, so the post never goes away!

BFB actually has code in it to try to account for this weird Facebook glitch. For certain story types that are known to have randomly-changing FBID's, BFB constructs its own unique identifier using other data from the post. This approach isn't perfect, though, so it's not used by default. I have to add code to handle each case where this happens.

How to Debug! If you want to help figure out what is going on, take the following steps:

  1. Locate an example post that won't stay hidden.
  2. Click the "i" icon in the upper right that appears when you hover over the post
  3. Debug information should appear under the post, like this:
  4. Copy that debug information into Notepad or somewhere
  5. Reload the page
  6. Repeat the same steps to get the debug info
  7. Compare the fbid's. Are they different? If so, then that's why it's not staying hidden
  8. Post to the Better Facebook Wall with the two debug snippets, which will help me figure out how to handle this case correctly

If the FBID is not different, or if no posts at all will stay hidden after refresh, then you may have a problem with your preferences not being stored correctly. See this FAQ entry: Why won't Better Facebook keep my preferences?.

When I go to my home page, I am immediately taken to my notifications page!

This is a tricky timing problem. When you have the option enabled to pin notifications to the right side, BFB clicks the notification jewel icon in the header in order to fire off the request to populate the notifications box. But sometimes, when Facebook is slow to load, their code to actually load the notifications hasn't been run yet! So instead, clicking the notifications icon navigates you to the notifications page itself. This problem usually only happens when Facebook is loading very slow.

The easiest short-term fix is to disable pinning of notifications to the right side. I am working on a fix for this.

Can I setup filters using Friend Lists?

Currently no. I cannot find a way to get access to the user's friend lists or the people that are in them. This is a commonly-requested feature, though, so I am continuing to try to solve it.

BFB has completely stopped working in Safari!

Some Safari users on Mac have reported that Better Facebook either never begins working, or stops working suddenly, despite being listed in the Extensions list and enabled.

The root cause of this seems to be that the Safari Extension API is completely missing, which BFB relies on to work correctly (as do many extensions). This can be caused by some rogue extensions/apps that break Safari. Known trouble-makers are SIMBL and the Conduit community toolbars. The solution is to remove these disruptive components. This article may help: Removing the Conduit 'Community Toolbar' in OS X.

Firefox 6 crashes when Better Facebook is enabled

Firefox 6.0.2 may crash when running the Better Facebook add-on. I have not yet been able to find the cause of this, but it doesn't happen for everyone. The bug report on mozilla's bug tracker points to a garbage collection problem, which may be a bug in Firefox itself, and Better Facebook just triggers the bug somehow.

As a work-around, you can use the Greasemonkey version of Better Facebook, which is identical in functionality:

  1. Install the Greasemonkey add-on for firefox (click to go to the install page)
  2. Restart Firefox
  3. Install the Greasemonkey version of Better Facebook

NOTE: Because the add-on and greasemonkey version of BFB store their preferences in different ways, if you had preferences setup with the add-on and then move to the Greasemonkey version, your preferences will not be retained. To transfer your preferences, see the FAQ entry: How can I transfer my preferences from one browser to another?

How do I configure the options in the Add-On?

Do not use the add-on preferences button in Firefox. The options interface is triggered via the button in the Facebook.com header bar.

Why is the new version not found when I check for Add-On updates in Firefox?

The Better Facebook Add-on on addons.mozilla.org must go through an approval process after being submitted, before it is posted and made available to all add-on users. This can sometimes take over a week! Unfortunately, this is out of my control. I submit the updates to Mozilla on the same day that I release new versions on BetterFacebook.net.

Instead of installing from addons.mozilla.org, you can download the update directly from BetterFacebook.net. ( Direct Link To Most Recent Add-On ). It has the exact same functionality. When new updates are available, Better Facebook will alert you and you can download from the site again, rather than going through the browser's built-in add-on update process.

Why won't Better Facebook keep my preferences?

Some users may have the Wizard pop up every time they load Facebook, or posts that are marked as read/muted keep coming back, or Options that they set not "stick". This indicates that BFB is not able to store its preferences, so every time it starts up it thinks it's the first time!

I am working on understanding all the factors that could lead to this problem. Because there are so many different browsers, configurations, options, and other extensions that people may use, it's impossible to solve it for everyone. But if none of the items below addresses the problem for you, please post to the Better Facebook Page and give any more information you might have!

Potential Causes of this problem:

  • If you clear cookies and site data in Chrome or Safari, this clears all the preferences stored by Better Facebook. Unfortunately, there is no way in Chrome/Safari to clear cookies without clearing Better Facebook data, so it's recommended that you not do so.
  • Using Private Browsing Mode (or your browser's equivalent). These modes are not supported by Better Facebook
  • Look at the URL when it seems like Better Facebook is not working. Does it say apps.facebook.com? If so, then Facebook navigation has bitten you - if you navigate back to www.facebook.com things should work. Unfortunately Chrome/Safari store preferences PER HOST, so all your prefs are lost when you navigate to apps.facebook.com.
  • Your localStorage could full or not allowing BFB to write to it for some other reason. One possible reason is if you are blocking cookies to Facebook.com, your browser may also be preventing it from using localStorage. Try to remove the blocking of cookies.
  • Your localStorage file may have become corrupt. This can be caused by the AdBlock extension in some cases, or Chrome/Safari itself may cause the file to become correupt. To resolve this:
    1. Shut down your browser
    2. Find your localStorage file. It may be in one of these locations:
      Chrome:
      C:\Users\_USERNAME_\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Local Storage\chrome-extension_jpokckkkemafoamcfkmglelammlpgcog_0.localstorage
      C:\Users\_USERNAME_\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Local Storage\chrome-extension_ifmhoabcaeehkljcfclfiieohkohdgbb_0.localstorage

      C:\Documents and Settings\_USERNAME_\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Local Storage\chrome-extension_jpokckkkemafoamcfkmglelammlpgcog_0.localstorage
      C:\Documents and Settings\_USERNAME_\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Local Storage\chrome-extension_ifmhoabcaeehkljcfclfiieohkohdgbb_0.localstorage

      ~/.config/google-chrome/Default/Local Storage/chrome-extension_jpokckkkemafoamcfkmglelammlpgcog_0.localstorage
      ~/.config/google-chrome/Default/Local Storage/chrome-extension_ifmhoabcaeehkljcfclfiieohkohdgbb_0.localstorage

      Mac/Safari:
      Macintosh HD > Users > [Username] > Library > Safari > LocalStorage > www.facebook.com_0.localstorage
    3. Delete the file
    4. Restart your browser
  • You may have an over-enthusiastic temp file cleaner that thinks these ".localstorage" files are junk and removes them. Apps like CCleaner could be to blame. If you are running anything like this, be sure to set it up appropriately so it doesn't remove these files.
  • Finally, be sure that you are using the Chrome/Safari Extension, not the Greasemonkey script.

    You can also go into Options->Debug and click the "Set Pref" button to store a test value in your browser, then click the "Get Pref" button to see if it is successfully retrieved. This will help debug.

I get this error: QUOTA_EXCEEDED_ERR: DOM Exception 22

This is caused by your localStorage area being full in your browser, or becoming corrupt. Most often, the reason is that Facebook has stored lots of data in your browser unnecessarily. Better Facebook tries to clear this junk data, but cannot always do it successfully.

Better Facebook attempts to clear enough space in your localStorage to make room to save your preferences. But if it can't do so, this error will be generated which means that your quota (space allocated for web sites and extensions to store data) has been exceeded. The fix in that case is to manually remove some of the data that is not related to Better Facebook.

To find your stored prefs, see the FAQ entry: Where are my preferences stored?. Deleting the localStorage file usually solves the problem.

I get this error: BETTER FACEBOOK ERROR! It looks like you have both the Firefox Add-on and the Greasemonkey script for Better Facebook installed!

Follow these steps:
  1. Go to Tools->Addons in your browser
  2. Uninstall Better Facebook
  3. Restart Firefox
  4. Click here to install the most recent version of Better Facebook for Greasemonkey

When Better Facebook is enabled, my browser goes really slow or locks up

Better Facebook runs code any time the document is updated, and checks for posts to process. It then has to go through a complicated series of steps to process the post, check it against filters, etc. For most people, this process slows down their browser just a small amount that is barely noticeable. But for a few, it causes the browser to become really slow or lock up.

These are some possible causes:

  1. New: Facebook has added code in April 2011 that automatically retrieves more posts when you scroll to the bottom of the page. Their code for automatic retrieval is not very solid, and using BFB exposes some of the problems, which causes Facebook to load hundreds of posts in rapid succession. You can fix this by telling BFB to auto-click "Older Posts" 0 times (or higher). In the first tab of Options, find this option and set it as shown:

    This has worked successfully for many people to stop this slowdown caused by Facebook loading more posts.
  2. If you have other add-ons, extensions, or toolbars installed that also manipulate or check Facebook pages, they might be causing a conflict. Try disabling all other add-ons and extensions and see if speed increases.
  3. For some people, having the auto-expand of similar posts enabled causes slowdown. Disable it in Options.
  4. Auto-clicking of Older Posts may cause a noticeable delay. Either set it to 0 or wait for the short time after you load Facebook while it clicks and processes older posts.
  5. Disable the option to "Put posts in proper chronological order after expanding" (it is off by default)
  6. The AVG LinkScanner has been reported to cause huge slowdown.
  7. If you have a slow or old computer, or an old version of your browser, consider upgrading. Also, make sure you are using the latest version of Better Facebook
  8. Finally, to help diagnose the root cause, try enabling Performance Monitoring by going into Options->Debug and checking the "Enable Performance Monitoring" box. Refresh Facebook and wait for the browser to become responsive. A panel should appear in the upper left with details about which functions were called how many times and how long they took. For example:

    Numbers way over 1000 in the "elapsed" column after the initial page load may indicate a problem or conflict with BFB. If all the numbers are less than 1000, then the slowdown is probably not caused by BFB.
    Take a screenshot of this or copy the contents to email or the Better Facebook Page for support.

Friend Tracker is stuck on "Loading", or the panels on the left don't show data - like "My Pages (0)"

This happens when "Accept third-party cookies" is disabled in your browser's options. Enable this option to enable full functionality.
In Firefox:

In Safari 5.1:

Can Better Facebook hide the Sponsored ads?

Yes, just click on the "X" in the upper right of the box, and all boxes with the same title will be hidden every time you load a page.

How do I uninstall?

Uninstalling an extension is a function of your browser. The Better Facebook extension cannot uninstall itself - it's not even possible! You have to tell your browser to remove it. Luckily, this is simple. Find your browser in the list below and follow the instructions. If something doesn't work, try consulting the Help for your browser or checking Google. I cannot uninstall for you. Again, this is a built-in function of your browser, and you should learn how to use it.


Chrome:

Type chrome://extensions/ in your browser, then click the uninstall link by Better Facebook:


Greasemonkey in Firefox:

Right-click the monkey icon in the bottom toolbar, then Manage User Scripts. Click on Better Facebook in the list, then Uninstall


Firefox Add-On:

Go to Tools->Add-Ons. Find Better Facebook and click Uninstall


Safari - Windows

Go to Preferences and then Extensions.


Safari - Mac

Go to Preferences and then Extensions.


What is Greasemonkey?

Greasemonkey is a Firefox add-on that allows users to create javascript files that can manipulate web pages when they are viewed. This allows users full control over changing how sites look and behave

Where are my preferences stored?

Firefox Add-On: Go to "about:config" in your browser's location bar, then type "betterfacebook" in the filter. Your preferences are in the displayed keys.

Firefox/Greasemonkey: Go to "about:config" in your browser's location bar, then type "Better Facebook" in the filter. Your preferences are in the displayed keys.

Chrome: Prefs are stored in an extension-specific localstorage file which may be in one of these locations:

C:\Users\_USERNAME_\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Local Storage\chrome-extension_jpokckkkemafoamcfkmglelammlpgcog_0.localstorage
C:\Users\_USERNAME_\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Local Storage\chrome-extension_ifmhoabcaeehkljcfclfiieohkohdgbb_0.localstorage

C:\Documents and Settings\_USERNAME_\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Local Storage\chrome-extension_jpokckkkemafoamcfkmglelammlpgcog_0.localstorage
C:\Documents and Settings\_USERNAME_\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Local Storage\chrome-extension_ifmhoabcaeehkljcfclfiieohkohdgbb_0.localstorage

~/.config/google-chrome/Default/Local Storage/chrome-extension_jpokckkkemafoamcfkmglelammlpgcog_0.localstorage
~/.config/google-chrome/Default/Local Storage/chrome-extension_ifmhoabcaeehkljcfclfiieohkohdgbb_0.localstorage

Safari/Mac:

Macintosh HD > Users > [Username] > Library > Safari > LocalStorage > www.facebook.com_0.localstorage

How can I transfer my preferences from one browser to another?

Go into the "User Prefs" tab of Options. There can you "Export" your preferences and a big string of text will appear in the empty text box. Copy this text and paste it into an editor like Notepad, then save it.

Open the other browser and go into the User Prefs tab. Paste the contents of the file into the empty text box and click Import.

Refresh your browser and your new prefs should be loaded!

When I try to setup Feed Filters, there are no select boxes!

Update your Greasemonkey add-on in Firefox. The old version did not support all the features required to run version 3 of Better Facebook

I have more questions!

Post to the Facebook Page