How (and Why) to Read your Facebook Notifications as RSS

The title of this post is fairly self-explanatory. Before I explain the how, though (which is pretty simple and straightforward), I think the why is a little more interesting, so I'll start with that.

The distractions of social networking in general, and Facebook in particular, go way back. We spend an inordinate amount of time on the site- so much so, in fact, that many tools have cropped up which block access to user-specified websites, or simply to Facebook itself.

Some of us (including me) have a love/ hate relationship with Facebook (don't worry; I won't turn this into a Facebook rant), so for us, getting our notifications in a reader has the added bonus of not having to actually spend time on Facebook.

So, onto the method. Surprisingly, Facebook makes this pretty easy.

Open up your notifications on the Facebook site (you know, the little globe icon) and click "See All" at the bottom.

Now, just click on "RSS" next to "Get notifications via" to open the notifications RSS page. If you're using a capable feed reader, you may see something similar to my screenshot. In my case, my browser auto-detected my reader, and all I have to do is click "subscribe now."

If you see a bunch of nonsensical characters that make your eyes hurt, don't worry- it's still easy. Just copy the url, then paste it into your feed reader of choice (I'm currently fond of Feedly and Digg Reader.

That's it. Now, when you browse your feeds, you'll see your notifications, too. Each notification contains a link not only to the relevant post, but to each person's profile, too.

I don't have Facebook installed on my phone or tablet, because 1) I don't want to give Facebook any information about my mobile habits, and 2) I don't want to get notifications on my phone. That meant that, before implementing this method, I had to go directly to Facebook's site to check notifications. Now, I don't need to- but I do need to make the deliberate, conscious decision to browse my feed reader, which has edges. When I'm finished, I close it, and I can move on, unlike the Facebook site itself, which is designed to be infinite so as to keep your eyes glued to the screen.

Now, you can beware the Facebook time-suck a bit less. Happy browsing.


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