How To Hide Facebook’s New Avatars

How To Hide Facebook’s New Avatars
Illustration: David Murphy

I didn’t expect to get so much grief about Facebook avatars, but the comments for my recent guide to creating these new Bitmoji knockoffs made it clear to me how many of you really, really hate these cutesy new stickers.

I’m not here to pass a value judgment on Facebook. You’re a grownup and you can decide which services you want to use or ignore, and why. What I can do, however, is give you options. If you really hate Facebook’s new avatars, there’s a clever way to hide them—and any mention of them—across the entire site.

Before I get to it, one quick word: This trick only works for the web-based version of Facebook viewable on your desktop or laptop browser. I don’t have an easy way to strip them out of your Facebook app, which is admittedly probably how you’re using Facebook 95 per cent of the time. As soon as I come up with one (if it’s even possible), I’ll be sure to let you know.

How to hide Facebook’s new avatars

To get started, you’ll want to grab the F.B. Purity extension for any of the major web browsers: Chrome, Firefox or Safari (after you first install Tampermonkey to enable userscripts). It’s a handy extension you can use to customise the crap out of your News Feed. In fact, I recommend spending some time with it once you’ve sanitised Facebook of avatars, as it allows you to customise the site to a particular look—or ensure you don’t see certain annoying post types in your News Feed.

From there, make sure you’re using Facebook in classic mode—you can only set up the extension in classic mode, but the avatar-hiding trick should still work if you want to switch back to Facebook’s new design. (As a quick reminder, if you’re on that new design, simply click on the big arrow icon in the upper-right corner and select “Switch to Classic Facebook” to good back to the earlier iteration; you’ll repeat these steps to switch back to “New Facebook” when you’re done setting up F.B. Purity.)

Screenshot: David Murphy

Assuming you’ve installed the F.B. Purity extension, you should now see a strange “FBP” logo in the top of Facebook’s UI.

Screenshot: David Murphy

Click on it, and you’ll pop open this giant window:

Screenshot: David Murphy

I find the UI a little cumbersome, to be honest, which is why it took me so long to figure out how to hide avatars across Facebook. Anyway, feel free to dig around in the extension later; for now, you’re going to want to start by clicking on the “Auto Hide” link on the right side, above the giant empty text box. As the description indicates: “Enter the words or phrases, on separate lines, which if they appear in a post, you wish to automatically hide that post from the NewsFeed.”

This is one of the most powerful tools the extension gives you. I recommend typing in the word “avatar,” which should hide any instance of when someone “shares” their avatar and you see a gigantic version of their digital self in your news feed. This will also hide posts such as, “How do I get a Facebook avatar,” “I don’t have an avatar yet and everyone else does,” and “I thought Avatar was one of the best movies ever produced.” (Sorry/not sorry about that last bit, if you’re one of the 12 people still looking forward to those continually delayed sequels.)

We’re not done! Next, you’ll want to click on the “Font, Colour & Design” link on the left sidebar. That’ll pop open to look like this:

Screenshot: David Murphy

You’ll want to click the “Hide Graphical Smileys / Emoticons” option. Then make sure you click the blue “Save and close” button in the centre of F.B. Purity’s screen. You must click this. If you simply “x” out of the window using the button in the upper-right corner, your modifications won’t save and you’ll write to me telling me I gave you terrible advice.

To prove this works, let’s look at a before and after:

“Hide graphical Smileys / Emoticons” unchecked

“Hide graphical Smileys / Emoticons” checked

Screenshot: David Murphy

Of course, this setting is not without its drawbacks. While you will have nixed most avatars from Facebook (you might see a few stragglers here and there), you’ll also have deleted sticker replies and those cute little reaction faces people can leave on comments. You can still react to a comment, you just won’t see the little icons anymore.

I suspect these losses aren’t the biggest problem for you—if you’re pissed off enough about avatars to go through the trouble of hiding them, you probably don’t much care for stickers either.

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