Centre for Internet & Society

Facebook designing your online identity is like designing your rooms with furniture from the bazaar. The only individuality lies in your family pictures standing on the shelves. On Saturday, April 2, 2011, CIS is organising a workshop for people to learn on how to think beyond the rules and limitations of Facebook, to tweak and play around the features and design to generate useful, creative, and funny concepts and explore how this creative intervention can be turned into a real software developed by the Facebook Resistance.


In the Web 2.0 world, most users of technology are reduced to being mere ‘users’. We are offered almost an endless number of choices but do not have the freedom to go against the ‘laws’ and ‘rules’ of the system we operate in. Take Facebook for example. Have you ever wondered if you can change the way Facebook works? Sure, we can start campaigns and mobilize people to impact some of the policies but we never think about the very design of Facebook and the laws that govern it.

What if you could change Facebook’s laws? In this workshop we begin modifying Facebook.com for ourselves, using the unique concept of “browser-hacks”. The aim is to think beyond the rules and limitations of Facebook’s software to generate useful, creative, and funny concepts. We further want to explore, how this creative intervention can also be turned into a real software developed by the Facebook Resistance.

Facebook Resistance is a research initiative accepting the status quo of Facebook being the dominant social identity management system, researching on the ways to change its rules and functionality from inside the system. Facebook sets the rules of how-to behave, so we’re asking: Are we happy with their interface, features and rules or do we want to change them? A change can be as trivial as adding a background-image. As initiator Tobias Leingruber (@tbx), puts it: “Facebook designing your online identity is like IKEA designing your apartment. The only individuality lies in the family pictures standing in your BILLY shelves.” 

While early online networks like Geocities.com encouraged its users to entirely modify their online presence, Myspace.com and Web 2.0 have steered this “User Generated Content” into a commercially valuable structure. Facebook has finalized this “evolution” by disabling the user to do anything but feeding the system that gives Facebook it’s estimated value of 50 Billion US$. Facebook is taking over the social web, and its design follows Mark Zuckerberg’s ideals. To quote Lawrence Lessig: “The code is law. The architectures of cyberspace are as important as the law in defining and defeating the liberties of the Net.” 


Marc Stumpel (@Zuurstof) is a privacy/user-control advocate, holding a MA degree in New Media and Digital culture. He has recently discussed browser hacks in his thesis: 

The Politics of Social Media. Facebook: Control and Resistance’, and continues to elaborate on this type of resistance while travelling in India. Several Facebook Resistance workshops already took place in Europe, organized by initiator Tobias Leingruber (@tbx) a famous artist and free communication designer working in viral media, popular culture, amateur aesthetics and browser apps. 

Example Ideas

  • Dislike Button
  • Graffiti Wall (based on GML/webmarker.me)
  • Auto-comment generator (e.g. LOL or Kanye West speak)
  • Custom background images and visual css styling for your visitors
  • Themes, e.g. change your Facebook’s colour: pink, yellow…

Skill-set participants

It would be great to have a few people with some web development experience (html/css/javascript), or Photoshop skills, but also people who can write good (philosophical) texts are very welcome. In the end everyone who really uses web 2.0 will fit in, so just come and join us!

Information and registration

We have place for 20 people. You can register by sending an email to digitalnatives [at] cis-india.org. The workshop takes place at the the Centre for Internet and Society on Saturday, April 2nd from 11.00 to 17.00 hr. There is no charge for taking part in the workshop, but make sure to bring your laptop or mobile computing devices with you. 

If you have questions please contact Marc Stumpel: m.stumpel[at]gmail.com.