Professor creates extension to curate Facebook content


Adam Zhang

Facebook’s new filter for fake news has populated its Newsfeed with media only from credible outlets.

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

Facebook is a popular platform for people to receive gratification through likes, posts and shares. However, the social media app has been under fire for privacy infringement and users posting viral misinformation in recent years.

Since the 2016 elections, viral misinformation has been a vital topic of discussion on social media platforms. Assistant professor Ben Grosser created an extension called Safebook for users to personally hide all content on the site and provide a solution to the “fake news” epidemic.

“Safebook provokes users to ask what it would take for Facebook to be ‘safe’ — to be a site that no longer amplifies disinformation, promotes anxiety, or perpetuates sexism or racism,” Grosser wrote in an email.

The extension allows anyone to remove all content from Facebook, which enables examination of how the design of Facebook influences user behavior, he said.

“I wrote software in the form of web browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox that modifies the Facebook interface when it loads,” Grosser wrote.

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Grosser said the work questions how logic of quantitative sociality, endless growth and algorithmic news feed curation are contributing to the cultural ills that social media platforms extend.

“In short, as an artist, I focus on the cultural effects of software.”

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Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly quoted Grosser, saying that he believes Safebook to be a solution to Facebook’s crisis of misinformation. This is not what he said, and the story has been corrected. The Daily Illini regrets the error.