How to block and hide Facebook applications and requests

**UPDATED on June 12, 2010**: [How to unblock Facebook apps](/journal/2010/06/12/how-to-unblock-facebook-apps/) I took the time this evening to write a little guide on how to make Facebook less annoying (see my profile). Don't get me wrong -- I love Facebook, but there were some things I had to do to make it usable. This is for those of you who don't like all the stupid little apps that clutter up your request page and the profiles of so many people out there.

There are four little Facebook tips that I like to share with folks in need:

  1. Disable Beacon
  2. When your friends send you application requests, block first, then ignore
  3. Use IgnoreAll to batch-ignore application requests
  4. Minimize all irrelevant applications on profile pages

Details follow.

1. Disable Beacon

Beacon, one of Facebook's information-harvesting features, collects information about you as you take actions on third-party websites. You should turn this off immediately.

Steps to disable Facebook Beacon:

  1. Log into Facebook
  2. click on privacy in the upper-right hand corner
  3. click on External Websites
  4. Check the checkbox next to "Don't allow any websites to send stories to my profile."
  5. If there are any third-party websites in the list, select "Never" for each
  6. Click on the Save button

2. Block annoying applications immediately

I've seen too many of my friends login to Facebook, go to their pending requests, and then click "Ignore" for each request. You want to block each of these applications permanently the first time you see a request. Blocked applications still show up on your friends' profiles, but cannot access any information about you. This means that those applications will no longer be able to send you annoying requests to join. Here's my current list of blocked applications:

How do you block an application?

Go to your requests page, but do not ignore any of them yet.

three annoying apps: sunshine, past life, and you're a hottie

Control/command-click on the application name link in each application request to open the application's page in a new browser tab. On each application's page, click on the Block Application link on the right-hand side.

click on block application

Click Block when the confirmation dialog box pops up.

It feels great to know that no one will ever be able to send me sunshine again.

Finally, Ignore the original request that you used to click through to the application.

Let's say you've blocked an application and now want to unblock it? Just go to privacy -> Applications -> Other Applications. (**UPDATE**) Go to *Account -> Privacy Settings -> Applications and Websites -> Blocked Applications*. Scroll to the blocked application list and remove the application you want to reinstate.

3. Ignore all application requests at once (optional)

Someone has recently written a script called IgnoreAll that ignores all application requests in the requests list. If you decide that you don't want to block applications explicitly, you can add the IgnoreAll script to your toolbar and use it to ignore all application requests at once.

Here's a movie that shows how IgnoreAll works:

4. Minimize irrelevant application profile boxes

The visibility states of application profile boxes are global. This means that if you minimize the Hatching Eggs profile box in one of your friend's profiles, it will be hidden across all your friends' profiles. This is awesome.

i hate hatching eggs

Each time I see a new application I can minimize, I get excited. Yeah, it's sad, but it's the only way Facebook can be made to be useful for adults.

Some of my friends feel the need to add dozens of applications to their profiles. Instead of a page full of clutter, I only see a page full of minimized applications.

this is *so* much less annoying

Special thanks to Livia Sohn for letting me use her profile to make the screenshots and movie. I've already blocked most of the commonly-found annoying applications out there, and was unable to use my own profile for that purpose. :)

**UPDATE**: Unofficial response from someone at Facebook:

> honestly, beacon was not meant to be a data harvesting product. the intent was to make it easier and seamless to share information that you want to share with you friends: yelp reviews, adding movies to your Blockbuster queue, and perhaps some purchases that you want your friends to know about. that said, the initial launch was not perfect, but we've since fixed it by giving the user better controls. now, all the stories need your explicit approval before they are stored and put into your minifeed. which means:

> 1. the site sends facebook a story. if you don't explicitly accept a story, we delete it completely > 2. if a site is shady, you can choose to opt out of that site forever; no stories are stored from that site > 3. the site never gets any info about you from facebook, not your name, not aggregated demographic data, not even your user id.

> just wanted to clear this up :-)

*UPDATE 19 Feb 2008* It looks like Facebook has added a "Block Application" action that you can invoke directly from an invite / notification.