Following someone on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook can sometimes feel like an ambiguous social contract. Once you’ve decided to start following someone, the circumstances under which it’s OK to unfollow them seem elusive. How many ill-advised Facebook posts should you tolerate, and how often can an Instagram or Twitter user misuse hashtags before you decide that it’s time to unfollow? And when you do decide that it’s time to unfollow someone, are you comfortable actually unfollowing, or are you just going to use Facebook or Twitter’s options to mute someone without the risk of them finding out that you don’t want to see their posts anymore?
If you’ve been trying to figure out when it’s alright to unfollow someone, we’re here to remind you that you can always opt out of seeing someone’s posts on social media. You don’t owe it to anyone to keep following them despite their irritating posts or annoying photos. Here are 12 good reasons to unfollow someone on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Feel free to unfollow the accounts that have been annoying you — and make sure that you aren’t guilty of any of the following offenses.
1. An account is too self-promotional
If you’re following a blogger or a business, chances are good that you don’t mind occasionally hearing about new posts or learning about new products. But if a Twitter or Instagram account is constantly promoting the owner’s content or products without anything interesting to say, it’s OK to get annoyed and unfollow. The same thing applies if someone’s entire feed has devolved into a series of sponsored posts promoting other brands’ products; if that’s not what you followed to see, then it’s alright to stop following.
2. An account becomes too narcissistic
It seems that just about everyone posts a selfie occasionally. But if someone is constantly posting selfies, sharing photos of their possessions, or bragging about how important they are, it’s safe to say that they aren’t contributing anything valuable to your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed. Celebrities may be able to post selfies every day and brag about their lavish lifestyles, but for normal people, that kind of narcissistic social media strategy doesn’t work out so well. The same goes for users who beg for followers or brag about how many followers they’ve gotten — don’t feel bad for unfollowing someone who’s that narcissistic and tactless.
3. An account goes off-topic
Particularly on Twitter, you probably follow people to stay updated on the topics that they mention in their bio. So if a user you followed for his insights into photography starts tweeting about his kids instead, or someone you’ve been following for her unique insights into marketing starts posting too many photos of her daily Starbucks habit, you’re not the only one who’s going to be tapping “unfollow.”
4. An account picks too many fights
Especially during an election year, it’s impossible to avoid arguments online. But there’s a big difference between posts that encourage thoughtful (and informed) debate and posts that are crafted specifically to incite mean-spirited fights. Your tolerance for witnessing or participating in arguments depends on your personality and your loyalty to the friend or personality in question. But if following someone is becoming a chore thanks to the hostility or negativity either in someone’s tweets or posts or in the comments and conversations they encourage, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about unfollowing.
5. An account becomes racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive
If a Twitter or Instagram user posts something that’s racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise offensive, then you don’t even need to think twice about unfollowing. It’s disappointing to suddenly be confronted by the unsavory views of a friend or a blogger that you liked or even admired. But in an era when people can vote with their clicks and likes, it can be satisfying to unfollow people who are prejudiced or hateful.
6. An account becomes too political
Unlike accounts that are openly racist, homophobic, or transphobic, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend immediately unfollowing anyone whose politics you don’t agree with. After all, it’s pretty easy to find yourself in an echo chamber of the same opinions and the same sources on your favorite social networks. But if an account that you originally followed for another purpose suddenly becomes fixated on political debates (and starts attracting all kinds of hostile commenters and vitriolic arguments as a result), it wouldn’t be unreasonable to unfollow.
7. An account becomes uninteresting
Whether it’s a Twitter account that stops sharing interesting links or an Instagram account that starts posting uninspired photos, you won’t be the only one to unfollow an account that’s growing less interesting. Jokes that fall flat, posts that are repetitive, or images that are dimly-lit or poorly composed are all grounds for unfollowing, especially if they become a pattern instead of something that just happens on an off day. Even worse? When someone decides that it’s a good idea to overshare random and uninteresting details in their daily lives. If you’re struggling to find something interesting in someone’s recent posts, you probably don’t need their updates cluttering your feed.
8. An account feels inauthentic
Whether you’re scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or Twitter, it’s obvious that most people project a specific image via their social media accounts. They stage photos, post about the best parts of their day, and otherwise carefully curate what they’re showing to the world. But sometimes, an account can start to feel fake. Even when you’re following a well-known blogger or celebrity, you’re probably following him or her to see behind the scenes at least occasionally. When everything is too posed, too perfect, and too happy all the time, you probably aren’t the only one considering unfollowing.
9. An account is too automated
As if it weren’t bad enough to spam their followers with self-promotion or excessively frequent posts, some people automate their accounts, too. If you follow a Twitter user and immediately get an automatic direct message, or someone tweets at each of their followers to promote their content or products, the account in question is probably too automated to be worth following. Most users who automate their accounts are just trying to promote themselves or their brands, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be missing much in the way of valuable content if you opt to unfollow.
10. An account posts too often
We all like to see frequent updates from friends and favorite personalities, but sometimes even an account that you used to love following can get too noisy. If someone is posting so often that they drown out everything else in your feed, it’s OK to unfollow. Or if someone is simply posting photos and updates about all of the mundane things that go on in a day, instead of just the interesting stuff, you shouldn’t feel bad about unfollowing.
11. An account abuses hashtags
We all have that friend on Instagram or Facebook who adds every single hashtag imaginable to each post, even the most mundane update or lackluster photo. If the list of hashtags is much longer than the actual update or photo caption, that’s a great sign that someone is going overboard — whether they’re trying to get their posts noticed or just don’t understand the point of hashtags. Your friend’s propensity to abuse hashtags may not be too big of an offense, in the grand scheme of social media missteps, but if it annoys you enough, it’s OK to unfollow and save yourself the frustration.
12. An account doesn’t share anything new
While some people like to repost others’ images or retweet great articles from their favorite sources, an account that only posts other people’s content and opinions really isn’t all that interesting to follow. If someone’s Twitter or Instagram account doesn’t reveal anything about his or her personality, then you may want to unfollow to make room in your feed for users with something more interesting to say.