Whittle down all those annoying social media posts

| Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

You're checking out your Facebook news feed during your lunch break, and there's your dear friend Lisa kindly giving away the surprise ending of the movie you planned to see this weekend.

Erin, meanwhile, has just posted the 17th picture/video of the puppy she adopted a few days ago.

And sure enough, crazy Uncle Bob has checked in with another screed about the presidential campaign. You love him. But one more rant and you swear you're going to unfriend him!

As Election Day nears, extreme political posts can be especially maddening. Crazy Uncle Bob has a lot of kindred spirits on social networks, and more of them come out of the woodwork every day.

A Pew Research Center survey earlier this year found that 38 percent of social network users have been surprised by some of their friends' political views. In what could be viewed as a win for tolerance and free speech, though, 82 percent of social media users said they didn't take steps to disconnect with someone because of differing views.

Thanks to a variety of tech tips and tools, you can screen out a lot of the noise without alienating friends and family members, or unplugging yourself from the Internet.

It's easy to block updates from Facebook friends who are temporarily getting under your skin. Hover over your friend's name, then hover over the Friends menu and deselect Show in News Feed.

Selecting Settings under the Friends menu allows you to control the amounts and types of updates you receive from a friend. You can screen a friend's status updates, life events and photos, for example, but continue to receive her music and video posts.

Not in the mood for a Facebook quiz this week? You can hide stories and unsubscribe from any person, Page, group or app.

If you encounter a political post or other story that is particularly annoying, report it as spam. That will remove it from your news feed, and Facebook's filters will try to block similar content in the future.

For more industrial-strength filtering, install a browser extension such as Social Fixer.

Social Fixer lets you define rules — similar to email — to control what stories you want to see and hide. You can quickly choose one or all of your friends, then choose to hide status updates, photos and other types of posts. The ability to add key words makes this free tool even more powerful.

Keep in mind that Social Fixer is a browser plug-in; it has no effect on your Facebook account or what you'll see on a different computer or gadget.

On Twitter, there isn't much you can do to filter content short of blocking or unfollowing users. But Twitter's own TweetDeck app for mobile and desktop contains a global filter in Settings to block people, words, and hashtags.

You might want to visit the extension galleries of Firefox, Chrome and Safari to find other plug-ins that promise to clean up your Twitter news feeds.

If you like to watch movie or video game trailers on YouTube, but avoid the site because of all the nasty comments and spoilers, there's help.

Clea.nr Videos for YouTube not only blocks comments, it removes the clutter of ads and promoted videos. The free extension works with Safari, Chrome and Firefox; there's also an Apple iOS app ($1).

Email Kim Komando at techcomments@usatoday.com.

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