It’s been a troubled week for Facebook. As if the blackout on Monday and the testimony of former employee Frances Haugen to the US Senate were not enough, the company decided to permanently ban a developer who created a Google Chrome extension called Unfollow Everything. As the name says, it allows the user to delete all friendships and pages that follow, cleaning the news feed and bypassing the social network algorithm.
Clean Facebook feed extension, vital to algorithm
The creator of Unfollow Everything is the developer Louis Barclay. The extension makes the user delete all their Facebook connections, including pages they follow. With this, the news feed becomes a blank page, making it possible to reformulate what is seen on the social network.
Facebook gives you the option to unfollow individual friends or pages, without losing your feed settings entirely.
For creating the extension, Barclay received a warning letter from the social network, in which it was written that its tool “automated interactions between users”, which violates the terms of conduct of the platform.
The company also said it had disabled the developer Unfollow Everything’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, and asked Barclay to terminate its Chrome extension. In addition, the letter states that, if the user tries to access profiles on their behalf, Facebook will take appropriate measures to prevent what it called “violation of its protected computer network”.
Louis Barclay comments that Unfollow Everything is being used in academic research at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, where researchers are evaluating the effects the news feed has on user happiness. Still, the dev says he can’t stand up to a trillion-dollar company like Facebook — which joined the select $1 trillion club in June — so he’s going to delete the extension.
“It seemed like a miracle”, says extension creator
Barclay tells how he felt when he simply deleted his news feed (what a taste):
I still remember the feeling of not following everything for the first time. It felt like a miracle. I hadn’t missed anything as I could check out my friends’ personal pages directly. But I gained a startling control. I was no longer tempted to drag my finger to see an infinite content feed. The time I started spending on Facebook dropped precipitously. Overnight, my social networking addiction became manageable.
This week, it became clear how Facebook likes to be in control of its interactions with users: on Tuesday (5), the company’s former product manager Frances Haugen told the US Senate that the social network prioritizes profit over profit. security of the profiles it houses. She even said that Facebook is a threat to democracy and national security.
Haugen collaborated with the Wall Street Journal in a series of reports, leaking internal documents from the former firm that point to the insatiable search for profit. In one, Facebook acknowledged Instagram’s negative impact on the image of teenage girls, but did nothing in response. In fact, the video and photo app wanted to launch its own kids’ version, Instagram Kids; the project was discontinued after Haugen’s revelation.
Facebook’s response to the statement was that Haugen had no contact with the company’s executives.
Compared to Haugen’s reports, the case of the creator of Unfollow Everything is lighter. Obviously Facebook doesn’t want a tool that cleans up the news feed, vital for users to keep coming back for updates. Most of the social network’s revenue comes from personalized ads.
With information: The Verge