Wallflower, Block Social Media Buttons To Speed Up Web Surfing

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 21, 2011
Updated • Mar 10, 2015
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Every third party script that gets loaded on web sites when a visitor loads the page increases that page's load and rendering times.

Web browsers have made big improvements performance wise in recent times which has speed up page rendering times considerable.

The rise of social networking sites on the other hand has seen an increase in so called social media buttons on many websites.

The reason to add those buttons to web sites are simple: These buttons, if used, increase the visibility of the web site. They can also increase traffic from social media sites and decrease the site's dependency on search engines for traffic.

The biggest usability issue can also be identified easily. Only a minority of users will make use of the social media buttons to spread the post or website. The majority of users will ignore the buttons. Even though they do, they still have to load the buttons.

Users who never use social media buttons can install plugins or extensions that block those buttons on web sites. This reduces the overall bandwidth and the page loading times as the browser has to make fewer requests. In addition, they may increase the privacy of the user.

block facebook like google plus

The Firefox extension Wallflower blocks both the Facebook Like and the Google Plus button on most web sites. It does so automatically and without user interaction. Most means that the standard buttons are blocked. If sites implement their own version or use plugins to display the buttons then they are still displayed.

Wallflower in this regard works like previously reviewed browser extension. This includes Widgetblock for Chrome which can block additional third party buttons or the comparable extension for Firefox, ShareMeNot.

Firefox users can download and install Wallflower from the official Firefox add-on repository. I'm currently looking for ways to only load the social media buttons on Ghacks if a user requests them. The basic idea would be to display a replacement in the position, something like Share or whatever and replace the Share link with the actual buttons if a user clicks on them. While this would mean that users who want to share need to click twice to do so, it would reduce the page loading and rendering times for the majority significantly.

Probably the biggest issue here is that Wallflower supports only Google Plus and Facebook. Since it has not been updated since 2013, it is unlikely that additional services will be supported by it in the future.

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  1. Pratha Scullion said on March 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Is there anything like this for Internet Explorer? Thank you.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Not something that works automatic, but you may be able to configure IE7 Pro for that purpose. http://www.ie7pro.com/ad-blocker.html

  2. Jan Erik Sigdell said on December 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    I’ve tried many ways to block these nasty Facebook like-button pests and I have Noscript. What should I do with the latter for the porpoise?
    Whatever is used it appears that Facebook soon finds a way around it …
    Wallflower also doesn’t help, anymore …

    1. JES said on December 5, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      Could it be that your and some other add-ons merely block the function of the hated Like-buttons, but don’t remove them?

      How can they be fully removed?

  3. Jan Erik Sigdell said on December 1, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    So how do I use the Noscript for that?
    I’ve tried lots of ways to block these Facebook like-button pests but it seems that Facebook soon have ways around them… My Noscript doesn’t block them. What should I do?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 1, 2011 at 8:31 pm

      Noscript blocks the buttons by default, unless you have whitelisted them.

      1. JES said on December 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

        No, it doesn’t! I don’t have Facebook whitelisted and the like-button pests still appear, a.o. in You Tube!
        But I have entries under Noscript > Advanced > ABE that are supposed to block them, but that doesn’t work, either…

  4. Nirab Sarma said on November 22, 2011 at 3:53 am

    Well that is why I have removed all the “Social Media Buttons” from my site. Instead I have placed a sharing widget below every article “Created only with HTML and CSS”, without any “Java Script”…..Now my site loads in just a couple of seconds. …..I truly believe that If anyone really like to share your article, he would certainly share it. No matter your site have those fancy looking ” Social Media Buttons” or not.

  5. Ciaran said on November 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    It looks like you are using addthis to load your social plugins.
    Does anyone actually use that….?
    addthis is loaded then it loads your social plugins.

    Load the social plugins by themselves.
    They will not slow down page rendering as much.
    You “mark” where you want your plugins to go on the page and then set the last action of the page load to run the javascript to populate your markers with the relevant social plugin.

    I can show you an example of it working for g+ and FB.




  6. TechLogon said on November 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I see your point, though Ghacks already loads pdq for me. Guess you need to trial the impact on visitor numbers of increased page load speed offset by the (probable) drop in tweets etc if social media eye candy isn’t immediately visible.

    Your Bookmark & Share button already keeps most buttons off the page. Personally I wouldn’t use Wallflower but if you have slow internet it could be worth it.

    Although if it could just block those horrible scrolling buttons that follow me down the page I’d use it like a shot ;-)

    1. KRS said on November 22, 2011 at 8:02 pm

      I dislike the bouncing buttons on the left, too, but if you want to take away Gmail’s stay-at-the-top action bar (which doesn’t scroll off the screen), you’ll have to pry it from my cold dead hands.

  7. Cornelis said on November 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Hey Martin
    if you have the brilliant NoScript add-on like me there’s no need to install another third party add on, it automatically blocks Facebook, Twitter, Google plus, addthis etc, etc.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm

      Cornelis I do ;)

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