Google Chrome extension lets you bypass Facebook news apps

Are you tired of dealing with Facebook news apps? Here's a Google Chrome extension that lets you bypass them and go straight to the article at its original source.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Millions of Facebook users have already embraced the Open Graph for reading and sharing news. Technology geeks and nerds, such as ZDNet readers, however, don't like Facebook Open Graph news apps, noting they have major problems. Thankfully, there's a solution out there, at least for Google Chrome users, which lets you skip all the nonsense.

Frictionless is a browser extension that bypasses Facebook news apps and lets you go read the article at the original source. It was developed by Brian Kennish, who also built Facebook Disconnect, and Nik Cubrilovic, who was the driving force behind getting Facebook to explain and change how it uses tracking cookies.

You can download the Google Chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store. Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari versions are in the works; the developers have posted the code on GitHub and welcome anyone who wants to fork, port, and/or pull it. Here's Frictionless' official description:

Read articles on Facebook without being prompted to add apps. Remember when you could click a link on Facebook then go to the destination page — not an app installer — afterwards? Relive the glory days with Frictionless!

For the uninitiated, various publications have created Facebook Open Graph apps, including The Independent, The Guardian, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post. After a Facebook user installs such an app, a link to every story they read on the publication's site or app appears in the Ticker. Some of the more popular articles are featured at the top of your News Feed, showing that a few of your friends read them, in an attempt to further push news apps.

Annoyingly, the apps are inconsistent in their behavior. Some of them require an install, some of them allow you to hit cancel and still read the article, some of them load an alternate version of the article within Facebook, while others open the original website. Nevertheless, they share almost every user action by default. Even more maddening is that these apps require you to give them access to your profile data in order to read a story.

Frictionless is very simple: there are no options, nothing to customize, and no buttons to press. All you have to do is install it, and it will do the rest. It rewrites all of the social sharing links within Facebook to point directly to the source website. This means that if you click to an article in the News Feed, you will be taken straight to the article. You no longer have to deal with dialog boxes, automatic posts about what you are reading, nor do you to hand over your entire Facebook identity to a media company in exchange for reading a story.

This is just a first release for Google Chrome. I'll keep you updated on future releases as well as versions for different browsers. I have also contacted Facebook to see what they have to say about this extension.

Update: "We have nothing to share about this specific extension," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "However, there are many ways for people to control how they use apps on Facebook, including choosing the audience and permissions they'd like to grant an app after installing it, and they can edit settings or remove an app at any time."

That may be, but the point of Frictionless is to bypass the apps because they are getting in the way of the news.

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