A Facebook Sixth Sense

Update June 9, 2016: In compliance with a Cease and Desist letter from Facebook, I have removed the extension from Github and the Google Web Store.

I use Facebook every day — probably too much for my own good — and I’ve always been tempted to dive into their internals. That is, the Javascript code that produces much of the user interface and interactions.

A few months ago, I started thinking about the little status indicator that shows up when one of your friends is writing to you. It’s such an inconsequential UI addition, and yet it seems to reveal so much about your interlocutor. When it repeatedly blinks in and out of existence, it suggests hesitation. Have it linger on for a while, and they might be writing you an essay. And there’s nothing like that excruciating feeling when you watch it disappear, never to be seen again.