Seriously, what happened to my social media accounts?
One day I woke up and opened up Instagram: advert, advert, some picture from a week ago from a friend, advert, another picture from two weeks ago… And then Instagram told me I was all caught up.
Where was the carefully curated travel account I’m obsessed with? Or Kylie Jenner’s latest selfie (don’t judge me)?
It would seem they were swallowed up into the white washed wooden floors background where I presume all Instagram posts go to die. It was at about this point that I’d had enough. I wanted to take my social media accounts back.
No more adverts.
No more baby photos from someone I went to high school with popping into my feed daily.
I wanted more of my friends’ posts, I wanted more Jenner selfies and I wanted a bit more of the social media feeds we were used to “back in the day” when chronological order was a thing. While you can’t get chronological order back there are a few easy ways to make the algorithms work for you.
Here are some simple tips to help restore balance to your favourite platforms:
We’re starting with the book of face because, despite Zuckerberg promising us that our feeds would be filled with updates from the people we love, there still seems to be confusion at FB HQ. I was bombarded with adverts and weird viral videos.
Here’s how to fix that:
While you might know that you can add a friend or like a page, you might not know about the follow button. Every profile you’ve liked or befriended has a follow button. That follow button is the golden key to flipping the switch and changing Facebook. The first thing you can use it for is to unfollow accounts.
You’ll still be friends, you’ll still like the page, but you won’t see the content any more (useful when you no longer want to read Simphiwe from accounting’s ghastly fake news shares but know she will interrogate you should you unfriend).
The follow button also allows you to prioritise the people that matter.
Hover over the follow button on your bestie’s profile and you have the option to “see first”. This will prioritise all her content going forward and make sure any new updates or shares are automatically pushed to the top of your newsfeed.
The same option is on pages. So if you spend 20 minutes doing this on the friends and pages you love - your newsfeed will drastically change.
Also remember that if you keep seeing adverts you don’t like in your newsfeed - let Facebook know. The three dots on the top right of the post allow you to notify Facebook that you don’t like the advert.
This is where the blasted algorithm works in your favour because it will take note and adjust what it serves you.
Instagram is currently my favourite social media guilty pleasure but I do wish they’d roll out some of the Facebook customisation capabilities.
There isn’t a lot you can do to fix the chaos, yet. But there are some small edits that will help.
The first is to turn notifications on. This is a bit annoying, granted, but it allows you to see the content you want.
If you see an account you love and don’t feel like it pops up enough (oh hi Kylie Jenner), click the three dots on the right-hand side and select “turn post notifications on”. Every time this account gets posted you’ll receive a notification in your notifications section so you’ll know.
Another quick fix to try clean your Instagram feed is to select “hide ad” (those three dots again) on ads you don’t like. By rights, the algorithm should record this and adjust. However, it is going to replace it with another ad, not necessarily remove them from your feed. Sad face.
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Regardless of its many faults, and there are many, Twitter sure does make it easy to try curate your feed to suit you best.
On every tweet there is a drop-down arrow and you can select the option “I don’t like this tweet”.
It can be a tweet from someone you follow, a retweet, an advert… regardless, by feeding this information back to Twitter they adjust your timeline accordingly. They look at the tweet you marked, who it was posted by, the content in it and a few other things and then adjust to suit.
I’ve found it works a charm, especially as I was sick and tired of seeing a million tweets from people I didn’t follow only because they were favourited by people I do (Twitter, that’s why there are retweets. I don’t want to see what someone favourited!).
If Simphiwe from accounting has found her way to Twitter you can also mute her. Use the same drop down arrow and hit mute. You won’t see tweets from her or tweets mentioning her but she’ll never know.
If you’re feeling brave unfollow. Take a stand!
While none of these solutions are going to return us to the start of social media where everything was neatly presented in chronological order, it does help somewhat in ensuring your feeds are more focused on what you want to see versus was A.I. thinks you do, or at least your input will teach the A.I. to be better.
And eventually we’ll relive that Terminator movie. Here’s hoping A.I. has a sense of humour and chooses an Arnie look alike when they make their first appearance.