Social media platforms from TikTok to Twitter don’t charge you anything to use their services except for everything there is to know about you. Part of the strategy for this data collection comes from algorithms, which decide what type of content to show you based on your past usage. Don’t make it easy for them to collect data—bypass algorithms whenever you can.
Social media algorithms are constantly changing. They analyze your information and offer you content that they think you will want to see. How you interact with this content teaches the algorithm, and it will change the suggestions it gives you later. Therefore, the algorithms are Great to keep you engaged with the app or service for long periods of time, but they also help social media companies build better profiles of your interests.
Of course, companies create profiles of their users from information provided voluntarily; they collect the accounts you follow, the information you post on their services, the the locations you share, etc. But what better way to find out who you really are than to serve up personalized content and see how you interact with it. I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of tired of training these algorithms to figure out exactly who I am and what I like. For me, it’s worth fighting back where I can. Here are some starting points:
Not confirming algorithm assumptions
These days, it’s common for social media platforms to suggest content to you, rather than letting you find the things you like on your own. When you open YouTube, for example, the entire page is littered with suggestions, based on your past viewing history. Jhat can be useful, but it can also keep you on the site much longer than expected. After all, there is always something else to watch.
It’s not just viewing time that concerns these platforms, of course; When you click on a suggested video on YouTube or interact with a post on Instagram’s Explore page, you’re confirming the algorithm’s assumptions about you. It takes this data and builds its profile on you. While social media is already tracking your every move, any move you make on a suggested piece of content will only weigh even more heavily than usual.
My advice? Avoid interacting with this suggested content whenever possible. Instead, search for the content you want to see. If you find something interesting in the suggestions, search for it manually and watch it from there. The algorithm will still learn from your behavior, but you won’t train it like you would if you followed its suggestions.
Eliminate suggested feeds when possible
This brings us to our next topic. If you can, edit your feeds to sort them chronologically, rather than what the service thinks is most interesting to you.. It’s the same logic as before…do not train the platform algorithm more than necessary. By viewing and interacting with content as it comes in, the platform won’t have as many tools to determine what interests you and, therefore, will have less to add to your overall profile.
Not all social media platforms offer this type of feed, of course. TikTok is famous for bringing you content based on the algorithm. Even still, you can try watching only content from the “Following” tab, which will only show you videos from accounts you follow. It’s still not perfect, since even that sorting is done by TikTok’s algorithm, but it does put a bit more control in your hands.
Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to sort by recent posts, rather than the algorithmically curated “Home” feed. Instagram may not have a timeline feed at the moment, but it comes. When it does, go for it rather than relying on Meta to select and choose which posts from your followers you should see first.
Use the platforms without your account when possible
This is another tip that depends on how the platform works. If possible, do not let the social network in question know that you are using its services. The first that comes to mind is YouTube; If you don’t care about your watch history, you can view all the content you want in a disconnected incognito tab, and YouTube will have no way to connect that activity to your Google Account.
You can also easily browse Reddit without an account; the downsides here are losing your ability to comment and vote on posts, and not having an account with custom subscriptions. But if you know which communities you already want to check out, or if you’re good with Reddit’s defaults, disconnected browsing works just fine.
This solution is also a good solution when you don’t want to train the algorithm with the content you do not do like, namely, when a friend sends you videos or messages that they find funny. Click enough on these, and all of a sudden, your TikTok feed is full of their humor and interests; no thanks.
In some cases, using these services without an account is impossible becausese mall social media platforms require you to log in. Facebook and Twitter are nearly unusable without an account, and Instagram gives you an annoying login pop-up after viewing more than a few posts while offline.
A better solution for these situations might be:
Use an engraver account
Using a “fake” account, without any of your real information, is a great way to enjoy the benefits of these platforms without having to worry about their parent companies building an accurate profile of yourself. . Sure, you know these companies are always tracking everything you do on their platforms, but if you don’t give them the essentials like your name, email address, date of birth, etc., it is much more difficult for them to know who you really are.
Burners are great for sites like TikTok, Reddit, Instagram and Twitter, you just lose the more social aspects of social media. If you can live with it, burner accounts can keep you entertained without being as followed.