How to Circumnavigate your Social Media Algorithm

Has the Facebook ThinkTank got you down? Have any of your normally non-political friends suddenly fashioned a war helmet out of a sauce pan and draped him or herself with the American flag, then proceeded to make every political topic somehow dumber?  There’s a reason the audience was behind the camera on the set of Firing Line and the Big Boys had the microphones. If you let the drunken monkeys onto the set stage, it would be indistinguishable from Facebook. Do what I did and stop using your Facebook wall and we will all love each other again! I will show you how.

Skip the bloviating and get right to it!

It’s not the politics. I don’t ever take someone out of my feed for views different from mine.  It’s the behavior.  It’s the anti-intellectualism.  It’s both sides calling each other anti-intellectual while offering nothing to elucidate.  Even those who end up on the same side of an issue as I often come to it incorrectly and express it appallingly. It’s the relentless relentlessness in my face non-stop. Go join a Group and whine to each other there. Maybe read a book before you Pontificate.  Simpleton challenges to answer for someone else’s  politics are a waste of my time.  In fact I don’t owe anyone any answers for anything. Every time I investigate an outrage, the outraged person has completely missed the point. I don’t need busywork in correcting your misunderstanding of an issue.

I have a place to discuss politics and it ain’t Facebook. I listen to a podcast by a guy who teaches law at U Chicago, is a Hoover institute fellow and has an endowed professorship at NYU.  I follow people who have worked in the government for several presidents and award-winning economists.  I know that you need me to know that the President’s daughter had boots flown from London, the URUGUAYAN taxpayer cost of another kid’s visit, and other pettiness just frothing over the cup of American journalism, but please go find a productive and quiet way to entertain yourself, please, while the grown-ups are talking about real stuff. 

I read about issues to become more educated about them and that doesn’t happen on social media.  No one there has questions, just bottle rockets of worldview. That’s not a discussion.  I understand that the world is going to go insane now.   I’m so sad you’re only catching on now. I hope you don’t think it just started.  If you chose this time to chase off the sensitive thinkers, you sure can. 

Learn from the memes and pop culture news websites. 

Everything is bumper-sticker simple.

I also can’t believe I just watched the same behavior jump from one group of friends to another. Do you not feel like a fool for parroting what the other side has been squealing for eight years?  More than the criticism of this guy , I’m most disgusted with the obsequious blind eye-cum-genuflection to the others. Nothing lowers the value of one’s political opinion to me than lickspittle behavior or naivety. But some people were born to bow and grovel before others. I am not.  We know that in a power vacuum, a group will choose a leader and each who isn’t chosen will know at a primal level that he or she is not the leader.  Yeah, yeah, we all read ‘Lord of the Flies’.

And it’s not just politics.   If you need to weed out the avalanche of pictures of abused dogs, self-help affirmations with sparkly unicorns, dog adoption requests, Amber Alerts, game players,  and non-stop adorable pictures of a white cat called Lucie, this works for those, too. 

Sometimes you can actually get your friends to behave.  They may not spam you personally but Facebook wants you to see everything they do and if they comment or react to something useless from their feed, Facebook will put it into your feed- “Hey! Your dumbass friend reacted to this dumbass news article”.  No matter how many times you tell it “I don’t want to see things like this” it just can’t seem to learn.

This is an intermediate-level endeavor for HTML coders/MS Office users.  There are several ways to do this and it will look like space language to some of you and a foolish waste of time to others who understand this stuff better than I.  These instructions are made to have mostly cutting and pasting and minimal typing.  If you can think of a faster way to automate this, please share in the comments.



First, download your Facebook data (General Account Settings: bottom, right).

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Next, find your Friends.htm document and open it in your regular web browser.

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Choose your ‘Friends’ tab.

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Highlight your friends’ names and copy them.

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Paste them into a spreadsheet like Excel, Google Docs, Open office, etc.  I recommend column 4.

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Now here comes the work.  Paste their profile links in column 2.  This will take a lot of time because you need to visit each of their profiles, which is more laborious the more friends you have. But if you care about them, it’s worth it. Break it up into groups of 50 or so.

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Now fill in columns 1, 3 & 5 with HTML code to make a hyperlink with the general form <a href=”Link to friend’s profile“>Friend’s name</a> then use a formula to combine all of that in column6.  You can use the formula in my formula (fx) bar in the pic below or search for the many ways to accomplish this combination.


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Copy the completed links into a new spreadsheet tab and paste “Values” to shake off that formula.

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Now use as many columns as you like to subdivide them into as many categories as you like. You can use a code that only you understand -if you like- to give yourself notice of preference or those you need to be given a rest. Now you can make sure to prioritize family or closest friends or whatever.

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Now you can quickly build this into an HTML table using the same column-filling/combining tactic I used to build the link code and paste it into an HTML document. You can expand this to include links to personal websites, Instagram profiles, and other wondrous Web 2.0 experiences that produce an algorithm-based feed that is supposedly your preferred echo chamber, but ends up mostly pissing you off.   Then either keep the HTML document on your computer and click on the links from there or post it wherever you can host HTML documents.
For extra credit, you can build a sortable table if you are comfortable with a little Javascript. There are tons of tutorials out there to make this easy for you.  

I use WordPress and they have a handy plugin called TablePress that lets you upload the raw spreadsheet and simply select “make table sortable” and/or add a search box.   Go ahead and give ‘er a spin:
Type into the box, “Stooge 110” And you get the most agreeable of the Stooges group.


FacebookCategoryCodePersonal SiteInstagram
Larry FineStooge100110Personal Site
Moe HowardStooge100110Personal Site
Jerome HowardStooge100110Personal Site
Shemp HowardStooge100120Personal Site
Joe DeRitaStooge100120Personal Site
G. Gordon LiddyPlumber100110Twitter
Steve HarrisBass Player100110Personal SiteInstagram
Jonas HellborgBass Player100110Personal Site
Rob WrightBass PlayerOh! My Leg!Personal Site
Stanley ClarkeBass Player222 222Personal SiteInstagram
Alfred E. NeumanSchmuck000 000Personal SiteInstagram

Hey, I love Shemp, too!

Why didn’t I just use the Facebook ‘Friends List’-maker function?  Because this still just produces a feed and you will find that if you actually go to someone’s profile, the feed is missing all sorts of great stuff that your friends post. You will also find that due to non-interaction the algorithm has completely separated you from some friends with whom you do not want to be separated.

Dedicate one day a week to a different group.  And when you want to see sniveling wannabe wonks, you know where to find them. And don’t forget to say “Hi” to them once in a while.  No one has to be unfriended or taken out of your feed, which is a futile task. And if someone unfriends you, you can still follow them unless they block you. 
What if Facebook doesn’t like this and blocks your website? Well you could make the code into a google search for their profile (if it’s worth it).  They can’t block an HTML document on your desktop. The preferred outcome of this is that, based on your new interactions, your feed algorithm will learn what you really want and begin to behave by mimicking that.

I actually started this project well before the most recent Presidential primaries, so this wasn’t completely devised with the goal of avoiding bad politics.  But Boy-Howdy did I recently get a fire under my tuckus to finish it.


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