How to block toxic comments everywhere

You don’t need to be angry or sad every time you go online—these extensions and settings can help eliminate the worst of the web.
A woman punching through a laptop screen while shouting.
Hit the mute button before you do this. SIphotography / Depositphotos

Some corners of the internet act as bastions of healthy discussion, but out there on the Wild Web, discourse appears worse than ever before. If you’re tired of feeling your blood boil every time you get to the bottom of an article or open up your social media app of choice, it’s time to clean up your internet conversations.

Block comments on news sites and blogs

Some sites are doing away with comments altogether, but there are plenty that have stuck by their discussion section—even if it’s littered with spam and hateful garbage. You can’t stop commenters from spewing their filth, but you can banish them from your view. Shut Up is a simple open-source tool that will automatically block most comment sections across the web. It’s available as an extension for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Opera. Just install it on your desktop or mobile platform of choice, and comment sections will disappear as if they were never there.

If there’s a site that you actually like to read comments on—yes, there are a few decent ones out there—you can click the Shut Up button in your toolbar or press Ctrl+Shift+X to whitelist that site. It will remember your preferences, so your favorite comment sections will stay visible no matter how many times you leave and return. Sadly, there’s no way to mute certain comments based on keywords.

Note that due to the way Chrome’s annoyingly broad permission system works, this extension will request access to read and edit data on all sites you visit, but you can read the developer’s privacy policy to ensure you agree with it. Afterward, if you’re still uneasy, you can always inspect and inject the Shut Up CSS code yourself, if you have a stylesheet extension you like.

Mute words on Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks

Website and blog comments are just a small fraction of toxic internet conversation—most of it happens on social media. Shut Up will block comment sections on some networks, like Facebook and Reddit, but that defeats the purpose of using those platforms at all. Thankfully some services, like Twitter and Instagram, have caught on and built “mute” functions that let you hide comments that contain certain keywords, for more control over what you see.

On Twitter, you can mute tweets with certain words or phrases by heading to the Twitter website and clicking More on the sidebar to the left. Next, go to Settings and Support > Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Mute and block > Muted words. Finally, click the plus icon in the top right to add words to your list. In the mobile app, the steps are nearly identical, but you start by tapping your avatar in the upper left-hand corner of your screen and build a list of muted words by using the Add button at the bottom right.

When you add the words you want to avoid, you can also select how long you want to mute it—which is useful if you’re just trying to avoid spoilers for a few days.

[Related: How to make your Twitter account more secure]

Instagram’s Mute feature is similar, though it only applies to comments on your posts (not other people’s). Start by going to your profile in the app, then tap the three lines in the top right. Head to Settings and privacy and scroll down to Hidden words. There are a number of options on this page, but if you’re looking to mute specific words, tap Manage custom words and phrases and start adding words. Then activate the toggle switches next to Hide comments and Hide message requests, depending on your needs, to hide any of those that contain your muted words.

If you want to do a little less work, you can also turn on the switches under the Offensive words and phrases heading at the top of the page to hide comments or message requests containing any words Instagram thinks you won’t want to see.

Other social networks, like Reddit, don’t have a mute feature built-in. However, browser extensions like the ever-popular Reddit Enhancement Suite will allow you to mute comments with certain words just the same. Install the extension and open the RES Settings Console. Navigate to Subreddits > filteReddit, and create filters to your heart’s content. You can hide posts with specific terms in the title, or block posts that come from chosen websites. You can also build filters for comments, provided you know how regular expressions work—there’s a small tutorial available if you need it.

Finally, Facebook is in a weird spot when it comes to muting or filtering comments. Back in June of 2018, Facebook began testing a feature called Keyword Snooze that would allow you to hide any comment containing words you specified. It wasn’t available to everyone and that test ended in January 2021. Now, your best bet is to hit the three dots in the top right corner of any post on your News Feed and choose Hide post to see fewer posts like it. From the same menu, you can snooze and unfollow the person or page that posted it.

In the absence of a built-in mute button, a popular browser extension called Social Fixer can create powerful keyword filters from the Filters section of its settings. Like the Reddit Enhancement Suite, these can get a bit complex and require a certain syntax, but you can read more about your options on its Github page. And again, if you’re wary about installing extensions from developers you don’t know, you can browse the code yourself and install it separately.

Remember, any time you install a browser extension to gain this feature, it’ll only mute posts on that specific computer—so Social Fixer and the Reddit Enhancement Suite won’t help you in mobile apps, where the extensions can’t be installed. We can only hope that companies like Facebook continue to build these features into their apps, so we don’t have to rely on third parties and workarounds to do it for us. But for now, it’s better than nothing.

This story has been updated. It was originally published on March 1, 2019.