You probably think you know how to keep your internet habits secret. "Clearing browser history is too obvious," you say. "I just do all my sketchy stuff in an incognito window!" OK, hot stuff, then let me ask you this: You ever search anything weird on Instagram? Got any visits to an ex's Twitter profile that you might not want to share with the next friend or loved one who grabs your phone? "I've gotta show you this adorable Japanese puppy's account... Why do your recent searches look like Armie Hammer's?"
No shame on the game, Armie, but not all of us have your chill bravado. So here's a guide to keeping your social media search habits to yourself.
Instagram search habits can make themselves known in two ways: First, they contribute to your "explore" feed, Instagram's offerings of posts you might like, which appears when you click the magnifying lens on the bottom navigation bar. Then, once you click into the search bar on the top of that page, Instagram offers more suggestions and offers your recent searches.
The Next Web has a full run-down for erasing these red flags. Clearing your search history is step one -- it will clear your recent searches but won't affect recommendations. You can do this from Settings. (On iOS click the gear icon next to "edit profile". On Android it's the three-dot line.)
To stop an account from showing up in your search recommendations -- Instagram might know what you like but you don't need anyone else to know it! -- click the search bar, and then click and hold the account -- you'll get a pop-up option to hide. (The hiding is permanent, no matter how many times you continue to search for the account.)
Finally, you can tweak your Explore feed by choosing "See Fewer Posts Like This" -- when you see the kind of account you want to downplay, click the three dots in the upper left for the option to appear.
Image via Facebook
Click on the Facebook search bar and, yup, there are your recent searches. So helpful, Facebook! Luckily, as InformationWeek points out, you can clear your Facebook search history wholesale or remove individual items. But be forewarned: You're about to see not just a collection of your top search terms, but every individual search you've made on Facebook. If you've been doing some compulsive social media sleuthing, this may be your come-to-Jesus.
First, find your Activity Log:
- On the web, click the little down arrow in the top-right corner, next to the question mark icon, and then choose "Activity Log".
- On iOS click the three lines (hamburger) menu on the bottom right, click "Settings", and choose "Activity Log".
- On Android, navigate to your profile, and click "Activity Log" right under your profile photo.
Then click "Filter" and choose "Search". Either use "Clear Searches" for the carpet bomb, or use the block icon next to individual searches to delete them from your log. (If you have a dozen instances of searching for your primary school crush, though, you'll have to delete them all.)
Twitter used to be the hardest search history to clear, but now it's a piece of why-did-I-search-every-possible-spelling-of-my-own-name cake. When you click the Twitter search bar, you get offered "Recent Searches". But at the same time, you're offered the option to clear this out, with an X or "Clear All". Smash that button, and you'll have a clean slate.
Just remember that if your account is public, your likes are, too.