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Ask Arthur

Ask Arthur: How do I teach my social feeds?

A reader says the social algorithms are relentlessly feeding her the same topics. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK advises how to teach them better.

Q: I don’t want to see the same thing all the time on social media. I keep hearing that the algorithms are giving me what it thinks I want. How can I get the algorithms to stop feeding me what I looked at before? I mean, I don’t want to see any more dating or travel suggestions.

A: It’s the same issue as with the ads you keep seeing, and the online store apps that think, because you bought a fridge today, you will always want a fridge. Yes, algorithms are that stupid.

If you want to smarten them up, you need to both clean up and diversify your feed, which can reset the algorithm’s understanding of your preferences, although that is not guaranteed (remember, they are stupid).

The first step is to go into the settings of each social media platform and clear your search history and watch history, or equivalent settings. I tried that on YouTube and it suddenly felt as if I’d become invisible. YouTube, specifically, lets you reset your recommendations by clearing your watch history. It could also help to clear the cache on our browser, as that will delete tracking cookies and reset your browsing history, which can also influence what you see on social media.

Netflix: Similarly, on Netflix, you can clear your viewing history to reset your recommendations. The second step is to check whether your social platforms allow you to adjust your content preferences. For example, several platforms let you specify what content you want to see in your feed. Again, keep fine-tuning this so that you don’t find yourself going down the same rabbit-hole again. In some cases, you can also adjust ad preferences in the settings of the social media platform to reduce the personalisation of ads based on previous activities. You can also select the “not interested” or “hide” options available on some platforms.

The third step is to make sure you don’t fall into the same algorithmic traps again. You can do this in three ways: follow new accounts, but keep them diverse (ie, not all on the same topic), interact with a wide range of posts (ie, not all on the same topic), and search for posts on a range of themes (ie, not all on the same topic).

In some cases, you will still find your feed dominated by certain accounts or topics. Either unfollow them – although that is often not an option or a solution – or mute them. The good news is, they can’t unmute themselves, unless they are Elon Musk.

Finally, if you really want to avoid all of the above, use incognito or private browsing mode when searching online. This stops the algorithms dead in their tracks, and they can’t use your data to tailor your feed. That said, sometimes you do want algorithms to tailor your feed, and you do want to follow what is happening in some obscure sports tournament taking place on an island somewhere. You can double down on that topic, for example by using the explore or discovery features of social media platforms, and the algorithms will then do the same for you.

Here are some platform-specific tips provided by our AI assistants:


  • Go to Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook Information > Activity Log – to manage your activity and clear search history.


  • Visit Settings and Privacy > Privacy and Safety > Content you see – and adjust your interests and explore settings.


  • Use the Explore page and interact with new content. Also, clear your search history from Settings > Security > Clear Search History.


  • Clear watch and search history from Settings > History & Privacy.

Arthur Goldstuck is CEO of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on social media on @art2gee.

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