If you’re still an active Twitter user, and if you’ve been collecting followed accounts for years until your timeline became an unreadable mess, you might fantasise about burning it all down. “It” meaning both the entire sinful world and your Twitter feed. We can help with the second one.
Here are four ways to unfollow everyone on Twitter and start from scratch — or free yourself now and forever, and live happily on Instagram.
First, save your follows
Extremely online person Anil Dash recently unfollowed over 5000 Twitter accounts. Before he did so, he copied his follows onto a Twitter list. That meant that if he regretted his experiment, he could still see his old timeline by opening that list in any Twitter app.
This is also useful if you follow a few small accounts and you’re worried about losing them in the shuffle. (You could also look through your follows and just write down which ones you definitely want to re-follow later.)
Note that if you unfollow private accounts, you won’t be able to follow them back without their permission. This might bug your friends with private accounts.
Dash also exported his follows into a spreadsheet so he could choose whom to follow back later. You can do the same by following the instructions in his post.
The most basic way to unfollow everyone is to open your profile in the browser, click your “following” count to load all the profiles you follow, and start clicking the “following” button next to each one. This gets tiresome. If you follow more than a couple of hundred accounts, try one of the other methods below.
Use a command line tool
For the actual unfollowing, Dash used a command line tool called t, which takes some work to install and run. (You’ll have to install Ruby first.) His post includes instructions on installing the tool and unfollowing everyone.
This approach is complicated, so only use it if you follow more than a couple of hundred people. If you’re following a thousand accounts, figuring out this process will still be faster than clicking each unfollow button.
Use a follow manager
If a command line is too technical, or if you’d rather pick and choose whom you unfollow, use ManageFlitter. This site can sort your follows by tweet frequency, follower count, how long you’ve followed them, or other factors.
It can’t unfollow everyone at once, but its interface makes it easier to point-click, point-click your way through your list.
To unfollow more than 50 people a day, you’ll have to pay $US12 ($16)/month. But compare that with the time you’ll save by not reading bad tweets.
If you've been on Twitter for too long, or gone on binges where you follow too many people at once, you can end up with a crowded, even toxic Twitter feed. In the twelve years I've spent on Twitter, I've ended up following an unwieldy crowd of over 3,700 accounts. I can't make a big dent just by manually unfollowing people in my feed, so I use ManageFlitter, a powerful tool to sort and act on my followers.
Use a Chrome extension, but be careful
None of the Chrome extensions we tried could actually mass-unfollow people. Twitter Unfollow, which we recommended in 2016, is broken now, and doesn’t show the unfollow button.
Twitter Unfollow All, which just toggles any follow/unfollow button, started following everyone in the Who to Follow box. And when that box auto-refreshed with new users, the extension kept following them like a runaway AI. It was terrifying.
You can unfollow everyone to clean out and start over, or you can unfollow to enforce a Twitter break, without deleting your account and losing all the precious #content you’ve put into the world. Then you can use Twitter to talk, but not to listen, as God intended.