Its okay to fall out of love with social media, especially as it seems like it’s a painful reassessment of your own self-worth every time you post something. Every like, retweet, new follower or friend can feel like they’re contributing to a metric of your personal value. But with a the right add-ons you can turn off likes, retweets, friend counts, and everything else that’s telling you whether your online social media existence is a hit or a miss.
Here’s the theory: Disable the metrics on your social media channels of choice and you don’t have to fret over why your latest Instagram photo only seems to be half as popular as the one before it, or worry about who’s liking or not liking your witticisms on Facebook. Social media becomes less of a popularity contest.
To make this happen we’re indebted to a couple of browser add-ons by artist and coder Ben Grosser:Facebook Demetricator and Twitter Demetricator. They tweak the code served up by Facebook and Twitter to keep the various key metrics out of site, to create “a network society that isn’t dependent on quantification” and ultimately “to see what happens when we can no longer judge ourselves and others in metric terms” in the words of Grosser.
These add-ons won’t affect how others perceive your social media accounts. So don’t expect to use it to hide your likes on Twitter or friends on Facebook from the casual social media user. You’ll need to adjust your privacy settings—something we covered here—to accomplish that. Instead this is about bring you peace of mind.
Let’s start with the Facebook one: head to the installation page in Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, and follow the instructions. The next time you load up Facebook in your browser, you’ll notice some changes: You can see if you have new messages, friend requests, and notifications, for example, but not how many.
Posts will still display evidence of likes and shares but there aren’t any numbers attached any more—you just see the names of the first couple of people who liked a post, then “and others”, with the number you usually see there removed. A selection of comments sometimes still do show up though, so it’s not a completely barren social media-scape.
The exact timings of posts and comments get removed too—rather than something being posted “4 hours ago” it shows up as posted “recently”; rather than an exact date in the past, you see “a while ago” instead. The number of friends that you or anyone else has is also hidden.
To toggle the extension’s metric-hiding powers on and off, click the Demetricator button at the top. It doesn’t completely wipe out some of the liking and loving that happens, but it’s still a refreshing way to use Facebook—you can still see if a comment has been liked, for instance, but not by how many people.
The Twitter counterpart is just as straightforward and can be installed from here for Chrome and Firefox. The same page includes instructions for getting the tool up and running on Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Opera with the help of Tampermonkey. Once it’s installed fire up Twitter and revel in a feed where the number of replies, retweets, and likes are hidden.
Small stars indicate whether a tweet has received responses of any type, but you can’t see how many, even if you click through to the individual tweets themselves. The numbers associated with trending terms (on the left of the main page) get hidden too, as do the number of views on videos, and all the numbers on profile pages: tweets, following, followers, likes, and lists.
Changes are made up at the top of the screen too: You can still see if you have notifications and messages, but a big blue blob obscures whatever number was there, so you might have one notification or a hundred. If you’ve been followed by a bunch of new people, this number gets hidden too. It’s impossible to find a number anywhere in your feed (beyond dates and times).
This time the demetricator tool can be toggled on and off by clicking on the extension button in the browser toolbar, and the change is instant, so you can quickly flick between having metrics and having them hidden without reloading the page.
Twitter suddenly becomes a strangely peaceful place.
Alas there’s no such tool yet for blocking these metrics on Instagram, or inside Twitter and Facebook on mobile, though we live in hope. One change you can make on Android or iOS is to switch off notifications for these apps—you’ll still see the numbers of likes and retweets you’ve got when you open the app, but until you do, you can carry on your day in blissful ignorance of how well (or not) your latest post is doing.
To turn off notifications for an app completely, head to Notifications in Settings on iOS, or Apps & notifications in Settings on (stock) Android. If you want to receive alerts about some activities (like comments) and not others (like retweets), then delve into the options inside the app in question.
For Instagram, for example, tap the Profile icon (bottom right) then the three-dot menu button in the top right (on Android) or the cog icon (on iOS): Tap the push notification settings link and you can choose what you do and don’t get alerted about. You can turn off notifications for likes completely, so won’t have any idea just how popular your vacation Instagrams are until you go back into the app.