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How to Reload Channels to Take Back Control of Your Algorithms

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For the past few years, I’ve taken one day off a year to do what I’ve called a channel reset. I try to systematically go through every subscription, every subscription, every algorithmically or chronologically generated thing I see on social platforms, streaming services and news apps, and reset or at least re-evaluate how it works. I cannot recommend it enough.

Every time I do a channel reload, I notice a huge spike in how interesting and relevant I suddenly find the internet to be. Will he spend the next 364 days slowly degrading back into the swamp that I’ll try to get out of next year? Aha! But I’m still making progress.

The point of reloading the channels is to be more intentional about the internet. This is not the same as a privacy audit, which is also a good idea to do every year; rather, it is a way to change what you see online. Chances are some of your feeds — YouTube creators, old Facebook friends, the inevitable dance crazes on your TikTok For You page — are the result of you commenting on something you liked or just happened to be. look many months or years ago. The reboot gives you a chance to start over, declare online that you are no longer the person you once were, and gain more control over the algorithms that are so important in your life.

My process has become more complex over time and now includes three steps: the next audit, a bulk archive, and a more complex step that I called Feeds Reboot Pro Max.

The next audit is tedious, but very simple: just evaluate everything that you follow everywhere. View your Twitter, TikTok and Instagram follower list, view all the RSS feeds you follow, check all your Discord memberships, view all the newsletters you receive, view your podcast subscriptions and check all the groups you you are subscribed. on Spotify to make sure you still care. Don’t worry about adding the best stuff as it comes naturally over time. Just delete everything you don’t need and make sure you only subscribe to what you really need.

The next step is Bulk Archive, and that’s exactly what it looks like. Do you have a million emails in your inbox? Do you have an app for reading later that’s chock-full of stuff you haven’t gotten to yet? How many unviewed pictures do you have on your list? There is only one way forward: get rid of it all. You can delete it all if you feel chaotic, or just create a folder called “Archive” and copy everything there. That way it will all stay there if you need it… but you won’t. That’s the point.

If you just do these two things, you will notice almost immediately that your online life feels more relevant and less congested. It always takes the most time the first time since you have a lifetime of choosing which channels to watch; every year thereafter much faster.

Feeds Reboot Pro Max is the next step in managing your algorithms. This includes learning how various social algorithms already understand what you like and care about, and tweaking them when possible.

Not every app lets you do this – TikTok, for example, won’t give you any control over what you see. But some applications offer more granular control over the algorithm. I have included the steps for their mobile apps, although sometimes you can get the same information in a browser. (And YouTube and Facebook in particular make it much easier to do some bulk actions on a laptop.) Here they are, in no particular order:

YouTube

  • Go to your Library tab, then select view all above your browsing history. Scroll back through everything you’ve watched, click the three-dot button on the right, and select Remove from browsing history to also exclude it from your recommendation pool.
  • Or go nuclear: go to Settingsthen History and privacyand just click Clear browsing history Erase it all and start over.
  • You can also click on Manage all activities and tell YouTube (and other Google services) to clear all your activity after a certain period of time. I have it set to 18 months, but you can also select three months or three years of data that Google will store.

You can control the data YouTube holds about you or delete it after the fact.
Image: YouTube/David Pierce

Instagram

  • Go to Settingsthen adsand then Ad Topics to see a list of all the categories that advertisers can use to contact you. If you see one you don’t need, click on it and select See less.
  • Go to your profile, click Next in the top right corner and click on the icon Least interacting with category. Unsubscribe for anything you no longer need.

facebook

  • Go to Settings and privacy > Settings and choose Your time on Facebook. Hit See Settings under Get more out of your timethen touch News Feed Settings, and add or remove people from your Favorites and Unfollows lists to control how often they appear in your feed. (Unfollowing people without unfriending them remains an underrated tactic on Facebook.)
  • Go to Settings and privacy > Settingslooking for Permissionsand choose Advertising Preferences. To choose Ad Topics at the top of the page and you can view and edit all the topics that Facebook communicates to the advertisers you are interested in. (By the way, this list is the same as the Instagram list, so you only need to set it up in one place.)

Facebook offers more control over content than most, and some of these apply to Instagram as well.
Image: Facebook/David Pierce

Twitter

  • Go to Settings > Privacy & SecurityChoose Content you see, and see the Topics and Interests that Twitter has for you. Unsubscribe from the ones you no longer need and choose the suggested topics that seem most interesting to you.

LinkedIn

  • Go to Settings & privacy > Advertising datathen select Interest categories. You’ll be presented with anything LinkedIn thinks you need, and you can turn off anything you don’t.

Streaming services

  • Most streaming services have a feature—usually under a phrase like Browsing History or in a menu where you control the Continue Watching section—that lets you control what the service uses to inform your recommendations. I would do this on all your services more than once a year.
  • On Netflix, for example, this only works online: under your profile picture, go to Check, look for your profile picture in Profile and Parental Controlsthen choose View Activity. Press on Hidden icon next to anything you don’t want to show in your browsing history or communicate your recommendations in the future.

Some people I’ve spoken to over the years recommend a more scorched version of the channel reset. They say that you should just unfollow everyone, everywhere periodically and naturally restore all your channels in the future. It seems redundant to me, but the goal is the same. Modern life is run by threads and algorithms, and if you don’t pay attention to your inputs, you will end up hating the outputs.

The real responsibility here should lie with the platforms themselves to make this process easier and more transparent – to tell you more about what they know and allow you to change it. Facebook is probably the model here: most of its information is hidden deep in the settings menu, but you can see and edit everything from your search history to a detailed list of everything the platform thinks you care about.

Until then, there is a reboot of the channels. This is a great weekend project for a long weekend like this one.

#Reload #Channels #Control #Algorithms

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