“I don’t like this”
Between explore pages, recommended posts, ads, and For You feeds, it can feel like you don’t have as much control over the content you want to see on social media. Over the past couple of years, social media platforms have started to rely more heavily on algorithms, which are processes that use things they know about you (like your following list, items you’ve liked or commented on, etc) to try and guess what else you’d like to see.
However, algorithms aren’t human and don’t actually know you. As a result, they’re probably going to recommend things you definitely don’t want to see. This can include the mundane, like a recommended Instagram account for an influencer you just don’t want to see, to the triggering, like a TikTok going into detail about the negative effects of COVID on society.
You should be in control of what you want to see, though. Most platforms give you the option (though they sometimes may make you do a little more work) to hide or adjust these recommended posts. For example, many platforms have a “…” in the upper right hand corner with a list of options about how you feel about the recommended post. For platforms like Instagram, you can even hide suggested posts on your feed for up to a month at a time. For accounts that show up on your account that have you questioning why the algorithm thinks you want to see them, you can block the account entirely.
Even if it’s your feed, you may feel guilt. Even if you don’t know the person who’s randomly on your feed, you might feel bad that, in a way, you’re disliking their content. You may also feel guilt for showing that you’re not interested in content about world events, because it may seem like you don’t care about important issues. At the end of the day, your feed is for you, and it’s not always about the subject of the content, but how it’s presented. For example, algorithms may think that you like health because you follow workout and cooking accounts from a variety of people of all sorts of body types and backgrounds, but because the algorithm thinks you’re interested in health, will end up recommending food-shaming and diet accounts that can be incredibly triggering. You may actually be interested in health and wellness, but the shaming posts are not the kind of content that you want to see.
While it’s impossible to completely get rid of recommended posts and poorly-suggested TikToks, you still have some power over your feed. Your “for you” is quite literally, for you, and you should have the ability to manipulate and control it so you see what you actually want to see.
What kind of content do you like and follow on social media? Have you ever used the block or “not interested” buttons? When do you use them?