2020 is going to be a bonkers year for US politics, but while the presidential debates and President Trump’s lingering impeachment might be the biggest topics of conversation (so far), we all know where the true political discourse happens: Facebook.
Unfortunately, a lot of that discourse is fueled by both misinformation and disinformation. Part of the issue is how Facebook handles political advertisements. Unlike other types of ads or political content, Facebook does not apply third-party fact-checking to political ads posted by candidates. Facebook’s own employees have spoken out against this stance, and several presidential candidates have even run ads with openly false information in an effort to show how dangerous Facebook’s policy can be, but so far there’s no indication the company will make any changes.
Now, if you’re like me, the threat of seeing constant arguments and misleading ads clogging up your timeline is enough to swear Facebook off entirely—or at least impose strict limits on yourself.
However, for those who still want to use the platform but avoid political ads, fake news, or general partisan vitriol, there aren’t many options available in Facebook’s settings. Sure, you can tailor your advertising information, and you can block, unfollow, or unfriend any person or page you no longer want to see, but those options will only do so much.
Instead, I would suggest trying the third-party browser extension F.B. Purity , which is available for the desktop versions of Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, Safari, Opera, and more (though not mobile, sadly).
F.B. Purity adds a new menu to the Facebook UI filled with customization options that change what you do and don’t see on the site. For example, you can disable auto-playing videos, hide entire menus, and even change how notifications are displayed.
Most importantly for those who want to block out some of the political nonsense, F.B. Purity can hide ads, block posts using keywords, and apply stricter filtering to news posts the appear in your timeline, among many other tweaks. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the extension before diving in, but the interface is mostly self-explanatory.
I was able to trim down Facebook’s UI quite a bit using F.B. Purity. In fact, as someone who barely logs in anymore, I was actually surprised by how much cleaner and pleasant Facebook looks with even the default F.B. Purity settings applied. It basically removed the entire right-side menus and ads—and that was before I added a few keywords to my blocklist.
Ultimately, I still think simply avoiding Facebook—or at the very least just not engaging with political posts—is the best course of action, but I’m confident that F.B. Purity can help as the 2020 political din gets louder… At least for a little while. Facebook is really good at circumventing other ad and content-blocking extensions, so it’s possible that F.B. Purity won’t always work. That said, unless Facebook changes its policies or adds more ways for users to customize their experience, it’s probably your best shot for now.