It’s Cheat Week at Mashable. Join us as we take a look at how liars, scammers, grifters, and everyday people take advantage of life’s little loopholes in order to get ahead.
Technology and social media can obviously be great, but if you haven’t quite mastered your platforms and devices, things can get a bit chaotic.
It’s easy to fall into hours of scrolling through Twitter or Instagram timelines, to get frustrated by trolls or annoying friends, and to completely mismanage your privacy settings. But don’t lose hope. There are some helpful little ways to beat the system that will let you thrive online.
You probably know of a few already — like making a Finsta, which allows you to post any content you definitely don’t want your family members or co-workers to see, or disabling location services on apps so companies don’t geographically track your every move — but that’s just the tip of the digital iceberg.
Here are 12 tech and social media hacks that will make your online life infinitely better.
1. Use the soft block
Ever had an insufferable Twitter follower — perhaps a Reply Guy — you wish you could banish from your timeline without upsetting or alerting them? There’s a hack for that.
Instead of doing a full block, consider doing a soft block, a Twitter move that involves quickly blocking a user, and then unblocking them. Users don’t know when you block them, but if your profile suddenly disappears, they might suspect it. But if you block then unblock them, both of your accounts will unfollow each other. No harm, no foul.
The person may eventually realize a soft block occurred or assume there was a glitch and follow you back, but if that’s the case, you can just soft block again! It’s a nice, non-confrontational move, and there’s always a chance that they’ll never even notice you’ve unfollowed each other.
2. Use TweetDeck to avoid following people
If you’re not already using TweetDeck to view Twitter on desktop, consider logging in and creating several list-based columns. Creating lists in TweetDeck will allow you to easily keep tabs on people — such as celebrities or politicians — without having to actually follow them, which is helpful if you want to keep track of the 2020 candidates but don’t want your timeline flooded with politics, or you want to see tweets from the Kardashians but don’t necessarily want anyone to know you’re keeping up with them. Just make your lists private if you don’t want to broadcast them to your followers.
3. Turn off read receipts in Twitter DMs
Twitter’s default DM settings have read receipts turned on, which means you’ll be able to tell when someone has seen a message you sent them, and vice versa. You can disable read receipts by visiting the “Settings and privacy” tab, then selecting “Privacy and safety” and unchecking the “Show read receipts” box. Just note that disabling them will also prevent you from seeing other people’s read receipts.
4. Use Twitter keyboard shortcuts
You may be familiar with keyboard shortcuts on your laptop, but did you know Twitter has its own set? The shortcuts are listed under the “How To Tweet” section of the website and will help you navigate the platform with ease.
5. Hide your activity status on Instagram
Instagram has a privacy setting that allows you to hide your app usage from other people. By going into Settings, Privacy, and then Activity Status you can disable the “Show Activity Status” feature, which means accounts that you follow or message will no longer be able to see when you were last active on the app. It’s a nice option, especially if you frequent the app and don’t want others to know how often you’re refreshing. The only catch is you won’t be able to see their activity status, either.
6. Be mindful of Instagram poll placement
If you haven’t already learned the hard way, it’s *extremely* easy to accidentally reply to Instagram Stories when you’re speed tapping through updates. False taps can be embarrassing for everyone involved, but putting a little thought into the placement of your Instagram Story poll can easily prevent accidental votes. Everyone taps differently, but here’s a general guideline to keep in mind.
7. Figure out if the “close friends” feature is right for you
If you don’t want everyone who follows you to see your Instagram Stories, consider the “close friends” feature. To choose a select group of people to share content with, go to Settings and Close Friends to make a list. You can also choose to share with “close friends” before posting your story and you’ll be prompted to make a list there. If you’d rather share your post with all but a few people, however, go to Story Controls and “Hide Story From” a select group of people instead.
8. Manage how much time you spend on Instagram
Ever feel like you spend too much time on Instagram? It’s easy to fall into a cycle of endless scrolling and double tapping, but did you know you could set your own time limit reminder? Go into the Settings tab and select “Your Activity.” Then set a daily reminder, such as 15 minutes, and once you reach your limit, the app will make you aware.
9. Make your Venmo payments private
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to take the leap and make your Venmo transactions private. It’s as simple as opening Settings, selecting Privacy and choosing “Private” from the three provided options. Do you really need anyone seeing when you pay your friend for 🍺💅🔮? Nope.
10. Download a Chrome extension to hide your Facebook News Feed
Those who have yet to delete Facebook entirely should, at the very least, consider downloading the News Feed Eradicator — a Chrome extension that makes the social media platform less hectic and addicting. The extension removes the contents of your News Feed and replaces it with an inspirational quote. (You can even customize the quote for maximum inspiration.) It’s a perfect solution for times when you want to focus but find yourself getting distracted by life updates from your Facebook friends.
11. Mute whatever doesn’t spark joy
In digital Marie Kondo fashion, if something doesn’t make you feel good, don’t be afraid to mute it. Both Instagram and Twitter have mute features that allow you to silence specific accounts without unfollowing them. (You can even mute individual words on Twitter.) And yes, it’s definitely OK to mute your annoying friends if it makes your social media experience more pleasant.
Go forth and live your best online lives, friends.