Facebook didn’t start out as a political pulpit, and there’s no reason it has to become one. If you turn to Facebook to relax and share recipes, photos and life updates with your closest friends that is absolutely your right. 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. None of them are perfect, but they’ll drastically reduce the amount of spite and vitriol you encounter on social media. Having tried them all, 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 that all of their posts will vanish from your screen. It’s like having the ability to tell a friend, “I’m not listening to you anymore,” and everything they say is muted.
Simply find a post from your friend, click the arrow in the top right-hand corner of the post, and hit “Unfollow Theresa,” or whatever your friend’s name is.
You have to do these steps for every one of your loudmouth friends. Just like when you “unfriend” someone, your friends will not receive an alert when you unfollow them. This is probably the politest way to leave a conversation on social media. For all your friends know, you’re loving and sharing every single manifesto they post.
Add a browser extension
There are better ways to protect you from political posts. If you use the browser Chrome, there is a special plugin that will scrub your screen of almost any political posts or comments.
The key word is “almost.” The plugin 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 trick only works for Chrome browsers, so if you ever switch over to Safari or Firefox, this particular extension will be 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.
One stop solution
What if you could walk into a cocktail party and tell the guests, “Talk about whatever you want, but no mud-slinging heated political debates laced with profanity!” This next solution is the ticket for your social media life.
Social Fixer is a plugin designed to work with several different browsers including Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera. (Note: The developers have a solution if you are using Microsoft Edge but only try it if you are technically proficient.)
Once you install the plugin, a preset filter keeps politics out of your Facebook feed. You can stay friends without seeing his or her political opinions.
Social Fixer wasn’t just designed for politics, but for any keyword you find tiring or distasteful. Weary of cat videos? You could remove them with the click of a button. You can even get rid of sponsored content, which is a luxury in itself.
The plugin’s so-called “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 to let people know you were checking out a profile 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 that is the platform’s lifeblood, but you can discourage Facebook from posting ads you don’t like.
Again, this is very simple: Just find that little arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the ad and click, “Hide Ad.” The little banner will be replaced with something different, and Facebook will learn to avoid similar ads in the future.
One more step to secure your account
Speaking of Facebook, at least once per day, I receive a notification from Facebook that warns me someone has just tried to hack my account.
If my account's malicious activity is any indication, the hackers and scammers are upping their game trying to access Facebook accounts. Once they do, your account could be used to spoof your friends into sending the scammers 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 or download my podcasts, or click here to find it 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.