5 On Your Side

Here's how to silence some of the madness on social media

Posted January 20, 2021 4:45 p.m. EST
Updated January 21, 2021 8:05 p.m. EST

— Challenging times and issues are playing out 24/7 on social media.

Psychologists say it can affect your mood and mental health, and some may be tempted to simply tune out. But there are ways to filter what you see without completely checking out.

“You actually have some control over what kinds of posts you see on social media," said Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports’ tech editor. "This isn’t about blocking out the world and pretending that nothing wrong is happening. It’s about taking back control and deciding when you want to interact with this kind of content and doing so on your own terms.”

You can take control by filtering out hate speech and violence from your social feeds.

For Facebook and Twitter, you’ll find features to do that using the the three dots at the top right of the tweet or post.

While the apps use different phrasing, that’s where you can unfollow people.

If you don’t want to go that far, you can “snooze” or "mute" them.

Using the same three dots, click "not interested in this tweet."

Or on Facebook, click “hide post”– to remove the content from view and alert the platform to the kind of content you don’t want to see.

Click the "Report" option to alert either the page administrator or the platform to view the post and address it, based on their policies.

On Instagram, click the three lines at the top right.

Go to Settings, Privacy and Comments to either "Hide Offensive Comments" or even flag specific words.

“The psychologist that I spoke to said this is actually a really important step for people to take to limit the sorts of things that they’re interacting with online, as a sort or balm for your mental health,” said Germain.

Another strategy, sort your feed chronologically, instead of how the algorithm thinks it’s most likely to get your attention.

Consumer Reports has posted a step-by-step guide to get control over what you see on social media.

The bottom line, you’ll find most of the features to make changes by clicking the top right of the app, so play around with it.

Making changes will probably be time well spent.

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