Matt

Making Facebook Usable (Without Using Facebook)

I signed up for Facebook in 2006, while I was still in high school. I “deleted” my account for the first time in 2008. Since then I've seen it evolve from chronological feed to platform for FarmVille, et al. to sprawling ad-spewing machine hoping to infect every device you live on.

Today I care enough about privacy to take a principled stance on it, and after dropping maintenance for the Write.as page I got rid of the last vestige of Facebook on my phone — the Pages app. Otherwise my profile sits there, happily populated with “Likes” I don't actually like and a Timeline featuring a life of adventure, like graduating college 5 decades before I was born, and living in Antarctica for a short period of time. I don't know if obfuscation like this completely works, but I like to think it helps.

Still, I occasionally hear about events and certain pages that are only available on Facebook. But with their cookies blocked on all my computers, I get this wonderful experience:

A Facebook page while not logged in, cluttered with sign up prompts

Like any other service that starves without trackable human attention, Facebook is happy to degrade their product to this point if it means annoying non-users enough to make them sign up. But the web is beautiful because users have control.

So I took back some control. I made a small browser extension that hides all of the annoying sign-up and log-in prompts, so you can safely click that Facebook link without being assaulted upon your arrival. What you get is something like this:

Facebook, with this new extension

Even if you haven't deleted Facebook, my hope is that this will make it a bit easier to log out, uninstall, and step back from the platform for a bit.

You can get Make Facebook Browsable for Chrome and Firefox.

#privacy #facebook #usability #ux #projects #extensions