Tired of seeing your feed clogged up with endless photos of your brother's/friends'/cousins' kids? If that's a solid yes, we have good news. There is now a Chrome plugin to fix it.
In a carefully crafted PR stunt, purveyors of condoms and lubricants, Skyn, has designed a web feature to block any baby photo that pops up on your Facebook feed. (See what they did there?)
The free-to-use plugin – aptly named the “Baby Blocker” – utilizes a Facebook process that studies the composition of each image uploaded to the platform and “translates” it into a short description using object recognition technology. There are various categories that can be described – nature, for example, which may contain descriptors such as “snow” and “sunset”. It can also identify people with labels like “smiling”, “beard”, and (you guessed it) “baby”. The descriptions tend to be quite basic and utilitarian (think: "two people", "smiling", "ocean") but users can go in and adjust the explanation themselves to make it more vivid.
The original purpose of this process was to increase access to the more visual aspect of the site for the visually impaired, allowing the blind and partially sighted to "read" images with the help of a screen reader. It is called “automatic alternative text” and was introduced to Facebook in 2016. (It was more recently added to Instagram, too.) But like most things on the web, it can be exploited for capitalist gain – and, on a more positive note, possibly encourage more people to engage in safe sex at the same time.
In this particular plugin, photos of babies will be tracked, erased, and replaced with another (equally cute) image.
We're not quite sure who is being so bombarded by photos of babies that they need to install a plugin to remove them all but inspiration from the campaign apparently came from the birth of the recent British royal baby. For anyone who has been living under a rock of late, that is Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the son of Prince Harry and Meghan (née Markle).
According to Jeyan Heper, CEO of LifeStyles, the PR company behind the stunt, parents share an average of 1,500 photos of their child before they turn five. The purpose of the plugin is to give other users the choice to opt-out of this “predictable frenzy of baby photos”.