Diet Facebook

A browser extension I’m using has me really surprised about how much junk Facebook feeds me. I hate that we’re stuck with it.

By Ernie Smith

Recently, I’ve been doing something with my Facebook feed that feels surprisingly telling.

Essentially, having seen too many creepy and sketchy Reels that seem determined to suck me in and I can’t turn off or manage, I installed a browser extension, called ESUIT, that removes many of the tchotchkes that make up a modern day Facebook experience.

(This is the browser extension that has worked for me, but I would be happy to use another that is more secure if there is one.)

No Reels, no ads, no suggested posts. It replaces this information with a short note informing me of what’s been removed. What’s left behind is a combination of people I actually follow, communities I continue to use, and news outlets that I know have struggled to get any air on modern-day Facebook.


All of these hidden things are items I did not put in my Facebook feed and that I did not ask for. Some days, I see a couple dozen of these messages in a row when scrolling Facebook.

That’s great, and I recommend it, but what I think is really interesting is exactly how many of those “short notes” I’m getting. They seem to be getting longer and longer, as if Facebook is determined to suck me into their algorithms and they’re being actively resisted. As I wrote this paragraph, it hid a grand total of 13 “Suggested for You” posts and four ads all between two separate posts.

This is information that I don’t need, and don’t want, and appears to be there just to feed an addiction that nobody really likes to talk about. Social media has long been compared to smoking, and viewing Facebook this way, it’s as if all the dangerous additives to the cigarettes were removed, but the nicotine was still there.

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To be clear, I knew Facebook was a really undesirable thing to have in my life (it’s pissed me off plenty in the past), but it’s a necessary evil, because it captures people in your life that you would lose contact with entirely if you did not have a presence there. But it’s really troublesome to me how much of that stuff is getting flooded out by literally dozens of pieces of unrelated junk.

This is, in a nutshell, the problem with legacy social media. We can’t get rid of it, no matter how bastardized and damaged the experience has gotten, because we lose something important if we give it up entirely—even if that important thing is covered by three layers of unrelated information designed to juice engagement. Even the threat of social othering, as created by Apple’s blue bubbles, has been enough for some to continue using things that we may not want to use just because we don’t want to be ostracized.

We can leave, but we have to give up those relationships, which are often the ones that aren’t as deeply engaged in online media, or are distant enough that you might lose the connection entirely if you don’t put in the work.

I have a friend like this, who basically gave up on social media amid the political messiness of the mid-2010s and disappeared from my routine until he finally got back in touch with me … on LinkedIn.

When we signed up for these social networks close to 20 years ago—we’re getting very close to the 20th anniversary of Facebook, which hits in less than two months—we were promised a certain sort of experience, where we would be able to stay connected with our friends and family online. So many of us did it, and if we went to college at the right time and in the right city, we got our chance to do this really early.

Screenshot 2023 12 07 at 10 37 45 PM

This was my “Facebook” when I was in college. It predated Mark’s invention by four years.

As has been heavily documented, Facebook was not an original idea, but it was also not a unique one. Back when I went to Michigan State, I remember being a regular user of a site called allMSU, which was a social network that led to at least a couple of dates. In its purest form, these sites allowed for human interaction and gave us a way to meet and engage with people.

But it’s clear that something got bastardized on the way to this ultimately pure goal of connecting people. Meta, as it’s called now, chased too many rainbows along the way, and forgot about why we used it in the first place.

And now, what we have is a platform where if I use a plugin that removes items I didn’t ask to have put there, there are literally two dozen items removed between one post by a friend and another post by a friend.

Why do we put up with this? Inertia. That’s it.

Links With Inertia

I love the idea of StampFans, essentially a Substack for snail mail that surfaced this week. (I saw a couple of people who didn’t.) The thing I love about it is that it takes a painful process and removes most of the painful parts from it.

Someone gave Jeff Geerling access to an X-ray machine, and we’re all the better for it.

Plenty of great examples of AI-generated junk out there, but this example from Bluesky is easily my new favorite.


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Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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