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Your Internet Life Needs a Feed Reboot—Here's How to Do It

Your Internet Life Needs a Feed Reboot—Here's How to Do It

For the past few years, I've chosen one weekend day a year to do a task called Reboot Feeds. I try to systematically look at every subscription, every follow, every algorithmically or chronologically generated everything I see on social platforms, streaming services, and news apps, and reset or at least review that. how i work I can not recommend it enough.

Every time I reboot the feeds, I suddenly see a huge increase in how interesting and relevant the Internet is. Will it spend the next 364 days slowly sinking into a quagmire that I will try to extricate myself from next year? Yes! But I am still making progress.

The point of the Feeds reboot is for the internet to be more intentional. This is not the same as a privacy audit, which is also a good thing to do every year; Rather, it is a way to change what you see online. Odds are, something in your feed — creators on YouTube, old friends on Facebook, the inevitable dance craze on your TikTok For You page — is the result of something you've commented on, liked, or been on for the past several months. Has happened. Or look at years ago. Reboot gives you a chance to start anew, to declare to the Internet that you are no longer the person you once were, and to take more control over the algorithms that run so much of your life.

My process has become more complex over time and now consists of three phases: the following audit, mass collection, and a more complex phase I call Feeds Reboot Pro Max.

The following audit is difficult, but really simple: just assess everything you follow everywhere. View your following list on Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, see all the sources you follow on RSS, check out all your Discord subscriptions, see all the newsletters you receive, scroll through your podcast subscriptions, and more See all the bands you follow. On Spotify to make sure you still care. Don't worry about adding finer ingredients as this happens naturally over time. Just delete everything you don't want, and make sure you only sign up for the things you really care about.

The next step is Mass Archive, which is exactly what it sounds like. Do you have a million emails in your inbox? Do you have a read later app that's loaded with stuff you just didn't get? How many unseen snaps are on your list? There's only one way forward: Get rid of it. If you're feeling chaotic you can delete it or just create a folder called "archive" and dump everything. That way if you need it it'll be all there... but you won't. that's the point.

If you just do those two things, you'll almost immediately notice that your online life feels more relevant and less overloaded. It always takes the longest the first time because you have lifetime feed options to watch; After that every year gets very fast.

Feeds Reboot Pro Max is the next step in controlling your algorithms. This includes seeing that the various social algorithms already understand what you like and care about and make changes to them whenever possible.

Not every app allows you to do this – for example, TikTok doesn't give you any control over what you see. But some apps offer more fine-grained control over the algorithm. I've included the steps for their mobile application, although you can sometimes find similar information in the browser. (And, especially with YouTube and Facebook, it's pretty easy to do some bulk tasks on a laptop.) Here they are, in no particular order:

Go to your Library tab, then select See All above your viewing history. Scroll back to everything you've seen, hit the three-dot button on the right, and select Remove from viewing history to take it out of your recommendation pool.
Or go nuclear: go to Settings, then History & Privacy, and click Clear Watch History to wipe the whole thing and start again.
You can also click Manage all activity and ask YouTube (and other Google services) to purge all your activity after a certain period of time. I have 18 months set, but you can also choose to have three months or three years of data to keep with Google.

To see a list of all the categories advertisers use to reach you, go to Settings, then Ads, and then Ad Topics. If you see one you don't want, tap on it and select See less.
Go to your profile, tap Following in the top right, and tap an interacted category from the list. Unfollow everything in there that you don't want anymore.
Go to Settings & Privacy > Settings and select Your Time on Facebook. Under Get the most out of your time, hit View Settings, then tap News Feed Preferences, and either add or remove people from your Favorites and Unfollows lists to control how often they appear in your Feed . (Unfollowing people without unfriending them remains a lesser tactic on Facebook.)
Go to Settings & Privacy > Settings, view Permissions, and select Advertising Preferences. Choose Ad Topics at the top of the page, and you can view and edit all the topics Facebook tells advertisers you're in. (By the way, this list mirrors the one on Instagram, so you only need to tweak it in one place.)

Go to Settings > Privacy & Security, select the content you want to watch, and review both the topics and interests that Twitter has for you. Unfollow the people you no longer want, and choose the suggested topics that seem most interesting.
Go to Settings & Privacy > Advertising Data, then select Interest Categories. You'll be presented with everything LinkedIn thinks you care about and can turn off what you don't.
streaming services
Most streaming services have a feature—usually under some phrase like "viewing history" or in the menu where you manage your Continue Watching section—that lets you control whether the service informs you of your recommendations. What is it used for? I will do this on all your services more than once a year.
For example, in Netflix, it only works on the web: Under your profile picture, go to your account, view your profile picture in Profiles and parental controls, then choose View activity. Click the Hide icon next to anything you don't want to appear in your viewing history or be notified of your recommendations moving forward.
Some people I've talked to over the years recommend a more scorched-earth version of the Feeds reboot. They say that you should unfollow everyone everywhere from time to time and regenerate all your feeds, going forward naturally. It seems like overkill to me, but the purpose is the same. Modern life is fed and run by algorithms, and if you don't go for your inputs, you'll eventually end up hating the output.

The real responsibility here should be on the platform itself to make this process simpler and more transparent - to tell you more about what they know and let you change that. Facebook is probably the model here: a lot of its information is buried deep in its Settings menu, but you can view and edit it in a comprehensive list of everything from your search history to everything the platform thinks you want. care.

Until then, the feeds have rebooted. This is an excellent weekend project for such a long weekend.

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