In June, when the World Cup seemed to have plastered over every other aspect of social media/life, we put together this little guide on how to conclusively block it from your social streams.
But now that the Internet is in the throes of the uber-viral “ice bucket challenge” — a fundraising stunt that has, as of this writing, raised over $40 million for ALS research — online ubiquity seems to have taken on a new meaning entirely. The ice bucket challenge is inescapable, even after weeks. It’s in your Facebook timeline. It’s on your Instagram feed. It’s sure as heck on your Twitter, where it’s been tweeted 2 million times.
So even though the whole thing is for a really good cause, you could be forgiven for … wanting to see a little less of it. In that spirit, here’s an update to our World Cup social-filtering guide. It’s not foolproof, by any means, especially for something as popular as the ice bucket challenge. But it should make a dent in shenanigans like this.
WELL, WHICH HEADLINE IS CORRECT, BUZZFEED? pic.twitter.com/8yhbqCYGy6— Emma Roller (@emmaroller) August 22, 2014
1. First things first: Make sure you’re looking at “top posts,” not “most recent posts.” (The latter is far more likely to contain play-by-play updates from every ice-bucket challenger in your feed.) Top posts is the default setting on Facebook, but you can double-check to make sure you’re still using it by clicking the arrow next to “News feed” in the left navigation bar. Then just click “top posts.”
2. Unfollow your chattiest friends. You know the ones I’m talking about: They probably keep posting those “best bucket challenge” articles from Buzzfeed. This option hides that person’s updates from your news feed, but you will still be friends with them and they will have no way to know you hid them. You can go to their profiles directly and click the “following” button on the Facebook banner, or — from your personal news feed — you can click the arrow in the upper right corner of their post and select unfollow. This also works on posts by pages and groups.
3. Try a friend list. Facebook automatically divides your friends into lists, based on things like where they’re from or where they went to school. By clicking a list under the “Friends” heading in the left navigation bar, you can view only posts by those friends in your newsfeed. That might not be super-helpful for the ice bucket challenge, with its universal appeal, but if I’m, say, overwhelmed by selfies from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, switching to my non-D.C. friends list is a good way to dampen the noise.
Tweetdeck are the thoroughest (and easiest!) way to hide entire subjects from your timeline. After you’ve downloaded Tweetdeck and given it permission to access your account — a free process that takes approximately two minutes — click the little parallel bar icon that appears in the upper right corner of each column. From there, you can filter the results in that column pretty much any way you want: show only tweets with pictures, show only tweets from verified users, show only original tweets (no RTs allowed). For our purposes, the “excluding” field is most relevant. Blocking terms like ice bucket challenge, #icebucketchallenge, and #ALSchallenge should do the trick.
2. Bust out the lists. Twitter doesn’t auto-populate lists for you the way Facebook does. But if you have a few minutes, making some is really worth the effort: They’ll help you keep tabs on different groups of users and maximize your Twitter experience. (Twitter maintains a step-by-step guide to making lists here.) Once you have those lists, tuning out annoying topics is as simple as switching from Twitter.com, where you’ll see every tweet, to your D.C. list, for instance — where you’ll only see updates from people in D.C.
3. Hit the “mute” button. Much like Facebook’s “unfollow” feature, Twitter’s new-ish mute function will let you hide a user’s tweets from your stream, without actually unfollowing them or notifying them that they’ve been hushed. To mute a user from Twitter.com, click the “More” button in the bottom right of their tweet and hit “mute @username.” (No offense!)
Tumblr, the popular blog platform, doesn’t make it easy to hide posts from bloggers you subscribe to. So if you want to hide offending posts without straight-up unsubscribing, you’ll have to download a browser extension like Tumblr Savior, which works in Chrome and Firefox. Tumblr Savior lets you make a “black list” of tags, which it will block — say, all posts tagged #icebucketchallenge. Notably, this won’t work on posts that haven’t been tagged, and it only works on your dashboard — it won’t work in search results. That makes it a somewhat less-than-failproof way to block content that’s, say, upsetting or triggering.
You may not be getting a ton of e-mails on the subject, but this is a useful tool for lots of other situations — like the entire month of December, when not a day goes by without some new holiday marketing message cluttering your inbox. From your inbox, click the little downward-facing arrow at the right of your search pane, which will bring up more search options, including a keyword and sender search. Fill them out any way you like, but then instead of clicking the search icon, click “Create filter with this search.” From there, you can automatically mark the e-mail as read, delete it, or stamp it with a label, among other options.
If that strikes you as too complicated — or if you’re more concerned about those marketing e-mails than anything else — try Unroll.me, a handy way to manage subscriptions, in Gmail or anywhere else.