Social media if you must

Harm minimisation for corporate social network users


You don’t want unaccountable monopolies mining every intimate detail of your personal relationships and deepest confidences? You don’t want them sharing it even though they promised not to? You don’t want them looking at your junk?

Then don’t use corporate social networks.

OK, in fact, not using them is harder than you’d like, because

  • The No-network effect means that all your friends have forgotten how to manage their life without Facebook all up in their business, i.e. there is a dilemma of collective action here
  • If you log in to one of these accursed things even once you are tracked in perpetuity by the browser cookies wand web beacons and such which hang around you like the stink of dog turd on your shoe, so also need to work out how to wash that off.
  • We are social primates doing bullshit jobs with smartphones in our pockets and we crave social distraction from the relentless grind of late capitalism.

How do you say?

after I post this status, I will be quitting Facebook, except for groups, events, messaging, sharing my take on controversial op-eds, promoting my podcast(s), and seething with jealousy about my friends’ positive life updates.

Remind yourself you do not need this

When using instagram I use protective measures to reduce its addictive effect.

Well put: The 11th Reason to Delete your Social Media Account: the Algorithm will Find You. Elizabeth’s letter to herself is measured.

Purportedly, Social media and television use — but not video games — predict depression and anxiety in teens

[…] playing video games was not a predictor of either depression or anxiety, which may be because gaming has become more of a social activity. “Compared with their forerunners 15 to 20 years ago, the average video gamer is not socially isolated. It has been shown that more than 70% of gamers play their games with a friend, either physically together or online,” the researchers noted in their study.

The researchers also found some evidence that interacting with media that promoted upward social comparisons was associated with reductions in self-esteem, which in turn was associated with increases in depressive symptoms.

Pretend to be on social media but don’t actually bother

80% of my strategy is this. See faking being on social media.

If we do need to use it, it seems that we should schedule regular cold turkey breaks. Lambert et al. (2022) suggests multi-day cold-turkey.

But that means I can get off social media?

Maybe. Grumpy bastard Scott Locklin summarises the fakebook extraction: Download your fakebook data. Delete your fakebook account. Delete any of your accounts.

Oh wait, your friends keep on using Facebook messenger to organise their lives? FFS, friends.

Practice social surveillance hygiene to reduce harm

  • Don’t use the facebook/whatever app. Alex Yumashev’s (uncited) tip for mobile devices:

    use Facebook in mobile Safari, with an adblocker, and delete the iOS native app — helps a lot AND saves you from tons of ads and 3rd party cookie tracking. Not to mention wonders for the battery.

    Wonder if that’s correct regarding the battery? Safari can be heavy.

  • Access your social network using a quarantined single site browser. (I’m a fan of this)

  • Firefox has a new smoother alternative: Multi user containers makes separate mini-browsers for each social app so they each live in their own little universe. There is a facebook-specific one.

  • Logins. Don’t login with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Wechat etc. There might be better alternatives in the future (e.g. persona?). But don’t hold your breath. For now, don’t use centrally-tracked logins if you won’t want the vendor knowing about your connection to these sites. Make a new password for everything.

  • Disable tracking in your browser using one of the extensions for that.

  • Reconfigure Facebook settings to be less leaky: How to gain control over Facebook

  • delete your facebook posts

You can also reduce the amount of crap that facebook shows you. Alex McClean, How to withdraw from Facebook:

  • Click the Arrow in upper right
  • Select “News feed preferences”
  • Click “Unfollow people and groups to hide their posts”
var unfollowButtons =document.querySelectorAll('div[aria-pressed="false"]'); unfollowed = 0;for(var i=0;i<unfollowButtons.length;i++) {setTimeout(function(element){; unfollowed ++;console.log('Total unfollowed ' + unfollowed + ' out of ' +unfollowButtons.length) }, i*2000, unfollowButtons[i]) }

Reduce distractions and upsells

Social media sites want to bombard you with extra stuff that it sounds like you should know about.

We can ameliorate social media addictiveness through browser tricks to manage distractions.

Roll your own social network

See DIY social networks.

Archive your social network

Minimise the dependence on that network for data storage by having your own backup of your social wossname.

There are GDPR extraction tools built-in, e.g. For Facebook. Timeliner and Perkeep are two different approaches to this.


safebook is facebook without all the content. Soothing.


Lambert, Jeffrey, George Barnstable, Eleanor Minter, Jemima Cooper, and Desmond McEwan. 2022. “Taking a One-Week Break from Social Media Improves Well-Being, Depression, and Anxiety: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 25 (5): 287–93.

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