There’s no need to spend a bunch of time restating the obvious: it is not possible to use the stock version of any social media experience in a healthy way. The only healthy way to use social media involves you battling it constantly for your attention.
Many have chosen the path of abstinence, deleting profiles and apps entirely. While that is an effective solution, I don’t see it as the best of both worlds. I’m a social person, and quite enjoy the positive aspects of social media. I wanted to see if I could find a balance.
Through a web of custom mods and add-ons and much experimentation, I believe I’ve settled on a healthy equilibrium that allows me to use the core functionality of these apps without getting sucked in:
BlockTube lets me remove shorts and disable the explore page. There’s even a mode where you can ONLY watch videos you’re directly linked to, but won’t be able to further navigate from there.
Distraction Free YouTube replaces the suggested videos page with a blank screen.
UBlock Origin removes all YouTube ads (as well as all ads across the internet; I haven’t seen ads in over a decade.)
Revanced is a modded version of the YouTube app that:
- Blocks all ads and “posts”
- Disables shorts
- Automatically skips sponsor shoutouts
- Enables background play for videos
Disable Twitter Feed replaces the feed with a blank slot. This means that all I use twitter for is writing tweets, interacting with those that reply to my tweets, and reading tweets that someone links me directly. (Annoyingly, the feed still attempts to load in the background, which slows down the browser if I navigate to the home page. I obviate this by writing tweets from my profile page.)
I use Firefox Mobile and UBlock Origin for Firefox. I do not use the Twitter app, instead using twitter.com and have a custom rule that blocks the feed. Firefox Mobile is far worse than Chrome as an Android browser, but it’s still worth it for the twitter blocking.
News Feed Eradicator blocks the feed.
I don’t use the Facebook app, just the Lite Messenger app for communication.
A custom rule for UBlock Origin for Firefox Mobile blocks the feed on mobile web. This is one I’m still not 100% content with, though, as hitting the home button on my profile gets around it. I’ve had to mentally train myself not to do that.
Old Reddit Redirect for Chrome and Firefox forces all links to load the old version of reddit, which is far superior and with a much less addictive UI. Unfortunately, I currently have this disabled as I moderate a subreddit and it’s not possible to access vital moderation tools in the old version.
Redited is a modded app that removes ads.
I never visit Popular or the Discover tab, only the Home tab. I have “Enable home feed recommendations” disabled in Settings.
Haven’t done anything here, I rarely use Instagram on web.
Instander removes ads, analytics, and allows me to view messages and stories in Ghost mode.
I routinely snooze all suggested posts in my feed for 30 days.
I wish I could remove suggested reels, but haven’t found an option for this.
I consider this the most addictive of all social media and treat with extreme caution. I have never installed the actual app, I view videos that are linked to me through the browser only for both web and mobile. I take great care not to interact with any UI elements other than the video I watch.
– All groupchat notifications off except for direct mentions
– Do Not Disturb turns on at my bedtime every night
– Blue light blocker activated for both PC and phone
– Each Android app has a customized notification sound so I know exactly which I need to check now (e.g. for work) and which can wait
– I’ve tried Blokada for overall Android adblocking, but there were too many false positives for me.
Feature illustration credit: Eric Chow
To prevent Instagram from recommending reels and posts you can go to settings > suggested content > specific words and phrases and enter a bunch of really common words (“a, an, and, I, the, he, she, it” etc.)
For Facebook, I don’t have any app installed at all. Just the website mbasic.facebook.com (which has chat, unlike m.facebook.com). So it’s all pull no push. Similarly, for Twitter I use the website on my phone.
In general, minimizing the amount of push is a good general guideline.
by Drake Thomas
Not quite modding-flavored, but another substantive social media improvement is to hide, block, unfollow, and unfriend liberally, and ruthlessly remove any source of content you don’t endorse being exposed to. Twitter and Facebook feeds can be good, if you just unfollow the 80% of accounts that are making it bad or adding virality to the worst parts. It’s easy to follow the path of least resistance and never clear out all the accumulated trash, but applying good filters really does make things way better.
Also: Where possible, use RSS feeds to see things you like on your own schedule instead of at the whims of Facebook’s model of your click behavior. Most blogs, webcomics, youtube channels, and subreddits will have one.