May 23, 2024

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How to restart feeds to take back control of your algorithms

How to restart feeds to take back control of your algorithms

Over the past few years, I’ve chosen one weekend a year to do what I call rebooting feeds. I try to go through every subscription, every follow, every time systematically Something created in an algorithm or in chronological order I see on social platforms, streaming services, and news apps, and reset the way they work or at least revise it. I cannot recommend this enough.

Every time I restart feeds I notice a spike in how interesting and relevant I suddenly find on the Internet. Does he then spend the next 364 days slowly deteriorating Back to the swamp Who will I try to get out of next year? yes! But I’m still making progress.

The point of “feeds restart” is to be more intentional about the internet. It’s not the same as a privacy audit, which is also a good thing every year; Instead, it’s a way to change what you see on the Internet. Odds are, some of what’s on your feeds – YouTube creators, old friends on Facebook, the inevitable dance adventures on your TikTok For You page – are the result of something you commented on, liked, or just happened to watch months or years ago. Rebooting gives you a chance to start over, to announce online that you are no longer the person you were before, and to gain greater control over the algorithms that run so much of your life.

My process has become more complex over time and now includes three steps: the next audit, the exhaustive archive, and a more complex step I come to call Feeds Reboot Pro Max.

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The following review is boring but really simple: just rate everything you follow everywhere. Go to your next list on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram, see all the sources you follow on RSS, check out all your Discord memberships, see all the newsletters you get, scroll through your podcast subscriptions, and check out all the bands that You follow it on Spotify to make sure you’re still interested. Don’t worry about adding better stuff because that happens naturally over time. Simply delete everything you don’t want, and make sure you only sign up for the things you actually care about.

The next step is the comprehensive archive, which is exactly what it sounds like. Do you have a million emails in your inbox? Do you have a read later app full of things you haven’t gotten to yet? How many Snaps are not shown in your list? There is only one way forward: get rid of them all. You can delete them all if you feel cluttered or just create a folder called “Archive” and dump everything in it. This way everything will still be there if you need it…but you won’t. This is the point.

If you do just these two things, you will almost immediately notice that your online life seems more relevant and less burdensome. It always takes longer the first time since you have a lifetime of forage options to consider; Every year after that much faster.

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Feeds Reboot Pro Max is the next step in controlling your algorithms. It involves looking at how different social algorithms actually understand what you like and care about and modifying it whenever possible.

Not every app lets you do this – TikTok, for example, won’t give you absolutely any control over what you see. But some applications offer more precise control over the algorithm. I’ve included the steps for their mobile app, although sometimes you can access the same information in a browser. (With YouTube and Facebook in particular, it’s much easier to do some group action on a laptop.) Here they are, in no particular order:


  • Go to your……. Library tab, then select View all Above watch history. Scroll back through everything you watched, press the three-dotted button on the right side, and choose Remove from watch history To also get it out of your set of recommendations.
  • Or go to nukes: go to Settingsand then History and privacyand just click Clear watch history To erase everything and start over.
  • You can also click Manage all activities Tell YouTube (and other Google services) to remove all of your activity after a certain period of time. I set my data to 18 months, but you can also choose three months or three years of data for Google to keep.

You can control what data YouTube stores about you or delete it after the fact.
Photo: YouTube/David Pierce


  • go to the Settingsand then advertisementsand then ad themes To see a list of all the categories advertisers can use to reach you. If you see one you don’t want, tap and select it less vision.
  • Go to your profile, tap next at the top right, and tap Least Interact With category. Unfollow everything in there that you don’t want anymore.


  • go to the Settings & Privacy > Settings and choose Your time on Facebook. He hits See settings under Get more of your timethen tap News Feed Preferences, and you can either add or remove people from your favorites and unfollow lists to control how often they appear in your feed. (Unfollowing people without unfriending them remains a underrated tactic on Facebook.)
  • go to the Settings & Privacy > Settingslooking for Permissionsand select Advertising Preferences. Choose ad themes At the top of the page, you can see and edit all the topics that Facebook tells advertisers you’re interested in. (This list mirrors those on Instagram, by the way, so you should only edit them in one place.)

Facebook offers more control over content than most – and some of it also applies to Instagram.
Photo: Facebook / David Pierce


  • go to the Settings > Privacy and SecurityDetermine The content you see, and review each of the topics and interests that Twitter provides you with. Unfollow the topics you no longer want, and subscribe to the suggested topics that seem more interesting.


  • go to the Settings & Privacy > Advertising Datathen select Categories of interest. You will be presented with everything LinkedIn thinks you care about and can turn off anything you don’t care about.

broadcasting services

  • Most streaming services have a feature—usually under a phrase like “watch history” or in the list where you manage the Continue Watching section—that allows you to control what the service uses to inform your recommendations. I will do this in all of your services more than once a year.
  • On Netflix, for example, it only works on the web: under your profile picture, go to File the account, Find your profile picture in Profile and parental controlthen select Watch activity. Click on hide icon Next to anything you’d prefer not to appear in your watch history or inform your recommendations from now on.

Some people I’ve spoken to over the years are recommending more scorched earth to restart feeds. They say you should just unfollow everyone everywhere periodically and rebuild all your feeds naturally moving forward. This looks like Too much for me, but the purpose is the same. Modern life is managed by algorithms, and if you don’t tend to your input, it will eventually grow I hate output.

The real burden here should fall on the platforms themselves to perform this operation Simpler and more transparent – to me It tells you more about what they know And let you change it. Facebook is probably the model here: a lot of its information is buried deep in the settings menus, but you can see and edit everything from your search history to a detailed list of everything the platform thinks you care about.

Until then, there is a restart of feeds. It’s an excellent weekend project for a long weekend like this one.