What to do when politics and Facebook don't mix

Are your friends annoying you with their stupid political status updates (and vice versa)? Here's what you can do to be shut of them (and vice versa).

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I’m sorry, I just can’t take it any more. The political season has gotten to me. I’ve started purging the ‘friends’ on Facebook whose opinions I can no longer stomach.

Now I’m as guilty as anyone of posting political stuff on my various social networks – maybe more guilty than most. And while I’d like to think I’m open to an intelligent debate about the issues, I can’t seem to find one. Everyone’s yelling and nobody’s listening. I have had it with the closet bigots and paranoid conspiracy theorists, as well as those people who seem perfectly willing to believe that the earth is flat and pigs can fly if the right people say so.

So I’ve been purging friends on Facebook and unfollowing people on Twitter. And, though I haven’t checked, I’m almost positive people have been doing the same thing to me.

I did an entirely unscientific survey of my peeps on FB and Twitter, and it seems I’m not alone. Most of my friends have admitted to either blocking political posts from people whose opinions they find not to their liking, or unfriending them outright. Several noted they were unfriended by others as well, though at least one said he actually got a little closer to some long lost high school buddies after engaging them in Facebook political debates.

So that’s something at least. Our great cultural divide brought a few people together.

So I thought there must be tools that let you do what mom always advised us to do: avoid talking about sex, politics, or religion in polite company. And there are, though the news there isn’t entirely great.

You can of course block people on Facebook without defriending them, or selectively block their posts. You can also create custom lists of likeminded people and only fire your political missives in their direction. These things work, but they are a lot of work. I was looking for a more blunt instrument than that, and I found a couple of them.

First I tried the free Noppl extension for Chrome. Noppl stands for No Politics Please, and it’s simple enough to install – just click on the link on that page. If you use Firefox or Internet Explorer, you can also drag a Noppl bookmarklet to your bookmarks bar, then click on it after you log into Facebook.

Unfortunately, No Politics Please was Not Particularly Persuasive. I tried it in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, and it didn’t do a damned thing. Political posts showed up unhindered. I was still annoyed. You mileage may vary.

Attempt number two: I installed another Chrome extension called Social Fixer. That one is a much more sophisticated piece of software that works in a wide range of browsers (though not IE) and gives you all kinds of controls over how Facebook looks and acts. The list of things it can do would fill a very long blog post; what I was interested in, though, was its filtering capability.

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