Posted Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, at 8:55 AM
What could be better than seeing all of your friends’ pictures of their babies when you log in to Facebook?
If you answered, “not seeing all of your friends’ pictures of their babies when you log in to Facebook,” you’re in luck. New York-based writer Chris Baker and two friends have come up with Unbaby.me, an extension for Google’s Chrome browser that zaps those irksome infants from your newsfeed before you even see them—and replaces them with cats.
Given that my own newsfeed is actually more cluttered with cats than babies as it is, I wasn't instantly sold on the concept. Fortunately, it turns out that cats aren’t the only option. You can customize the extension to turn the babies into pugs, bacon—anything you please, really, provided you can find an image-based RSS feed for it.
The extension’s baby detector isn’t foolproof. It works by searching for keywords in photo captions, so it misses uncaptioned babies, or those whose captions don’t include terms such as “so adorable,” “eating solid foods,” or “bundle of joy.” But the keywords are easily changed. So if you don’t mind babies in general but want to be spared from seeing particular friends’ babies, you can enter their names instead.
In fact—and this is the most underrated and revolutionary aspect of the tool—you can set it up to block pictures of pretty much anything you don’t want to see in your newsfeed. I have nothing against the occasional feline or toddler, but when I’m desk-bound on a sunny August day, the last thing I want to see are my friends’ sunset-streaked snapshots of the damn Chichen Itza. So I tried replacing the baby-related keywords with terms like “vacation,” “beach,” “sights,” “island,” and, for good measure, “fun.” Then I changed the tag for the RSS feed from “cats” to “cubicles.”
Zap! All of my friends’ summers are now as boring as mine.