It's hard to imagine a Facebook without likes, shares, or even timestamps, but that's exactly the world created by Facebook Demetricator — a browser extension that strips all social metrics from your Facebook account. Available on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, the Demetricator is the brainchild of Ben Grosser, who wanted to see how the Facebook experience would change in the absence of quantifiable social indicators.

With Grosser's add-on, all counts of likes, shares, and friend counts are wiped away and replaced with more generic, less quantifiable metrics. "20 people like this," for instance, becomes simply "people like this," and a timestamp of "10 hours ago" becomes "recently." The Demetricator only erases numbers automatically displayed on the Facebook interface, and won't apply to manually-entered numbers such as birthdays, graduation dates, or status updates. Once installed, users can switch back to the traditional view by unchecking the "Demetricator" field at the top of the Facebook interface.

Quality over quantity

Grosser says he was inspired to create the Demetricator after becoming fixated on the numbers his posts generated rather than the quality of feedback he received. "This focus on quantity," he writes, "leads us to continually measure the value of our social connections within metric terms, and this metricated viewpoint may have consequences on how we act within the system."

The Demetricator, by contrast, forces users to engage with "a network society that isn't dependent on quantification," while raising important questions about the motivation behind Facebook's existing structure. "What purpose does this enumeration serve for a system (and a corporation) that depends on its user’s continued free labor to produce the information that fills its databases?" Grosser writes. "Where does it lead when quantity, not quality is foremost?"