Facebook didn’t start out as a political pulpit, and there’s no reason it has to be one. If you turn to Facebook to relax and share recipes, photos and life updates with your closest friends, that is absolutely your right. But at the same time, you don’t necessarily want to unfriend people you care about because they happen to be blowhards.
Here are some handy tools for damming the deluge of politics on Facebook. They’re not perfect, but they’ll drastically reduce the spite and vitriol you encounter on social media. I think you’ll be surprised how well they work.
Unfollow the blabbermouths
If only real life were this easy: You can “unfollow” a friend, which means all her posts will vanish from your screen. It’s like having the ability to tell her, “I’m not listening to you anymore,” and everything she says is muted.
Simply find a post from your friend, click the arrow in the top right corner of the post, and hit “Unfollow Theresa,” or whatever your friend’s name is.
Just as when you “unfriend” someone, she will not receive an alert that you’re no longer following her. You have to do this for every one of your loudmouth friends, but for all they know, you’re loving and sharing every single manifesto they post. This is probably the politest way to leave a conversation on social media.
Add a browser extension
There are better ways to protect yourself from political posts. If you use the Chrome browser, there is a special plug-in that will scrub your screen of almost all political posts or comments.
The key word is “almost.” The plug-in cleverly tracks the posts and links your friends share, but it can’t necessarily figure out when a meme has a political subtext. Also, the plug-in works only with Chrome. If you use Safari or Firefox, it is useless.
But if you rely heavily on Chrome, allowing or disallowing politics on your wall is as simple as a thumb-slide to the left or right. Click here to start cleaning up your feed using this browser extension.
What if you could walk into a cocktail party and tell the guests, “Talk about whatever you want, but no mudslinging, no profanity-laced heated political debates!” This next solution is the ticket for your social media life.
Social Fixer is a plug-in designed to work with several browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera. (Note: The developers have a solution for Microsoft Edge, but try it only if you are technically proficient.)
Once you install the plug-in, a preset filter keeps politics out of your Facebook feed. You can keep your friends without seeing their political opinions.
Social Fixer wasn’t designed just for politics, but for any keyword you find tiring or distasteful. Weary of cat videos? You can remove them with the click of a button. You can even get rid of sponsored content, which is a luxury unto itself.
The plug-in’s “stealth mode” is also interesting. Using it, you can check out people’s profiles without worrying about clicking the wrong button. Just about anything you can do that lets people know you were checking out their profiles is disabled.
Curate your ads
Facebook makes a huge amount of its money from ads and sponsored posts, which is why we’re subjected to them every time we log on. You can’t remove the ads altogether, because they are the platform’s lifeblood, but you can discourage Facebook from posting those you don’t like.
Again, this is very simple: Just find that little arrow in the upper right corner of the ad and click, “Hide Ad.” Something else will replace it, and Facebook will learn to avoid similar ads in the future.
One more step to secure your account
Speaking of Facebook … At least once a day, I get a notification from Facebook that someone has just tried to hack my account.
If my account is any indication, the hackers and scammers trying to access Facebook accounts are upping their game. If they succeed, your account could be used to spoof your friends into sending them money, or worse. Don’t take chances. The fix is simple and takes just a moment to implement.
How else can you make your social media more user-friendly? Be sure to listen to or download my podcasts, or click here to find them on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.