Block out Valentine's Day with this Czech-made browser extension

Tired of seeing Valentine's Day content and advertising online? Prevent it from ever appearing with the new V-Day ad blocker from STRV Labs. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 06.02.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 05.02.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away, and many of us don't need the reminder with the amount of content and advertising we come across every day. But thanks to an innovative new Czech-made browser extension, this year you can say goodbye to Valentine's Day, at least within the online world.

Developed for Google Chrome by the Czech software company STRV Labs, the V-Day Blocker extension prevents any Valentine's Day-themed text or graphics from appearing in your browser.

The Valentine's Day blocker is part of a prototype app that uses machine learning for moderation purposes, identifying specific types of text or images and then preventing them from appearing to the user. The STRV team has been working on it for the past eighteen months.

Image: V-Day Blocker
Image: V-Day Blocker

The end goal for the team behind the app is to produce a new type of ad blocker that can pre-filter any type of content for the end user, not only Valentine's Day promotion, based on individual preferences.

“There is a seemingly endless amount of content on the Internet, and we don't necessarily want to see all of it. Lots of smart tools manage the content we consume on the internet [...] You can hide ads using an ad blocker based on IP addresses, for example, or mute words on twitter," explains STRV Labs' Kateřina Dousková in a press release.

"But machine learning offers much more. We decided to explore this potential and put a simple, yet very smart way to gain control over content on the internet in the hands of ordinary users. So far, our first public prototype focuses on Valentine's Day ads, but that's just the beginning."

The idea for content moderation using machine learning first came from the STRV team, and the Chrome extension was recently developed through a month-long hackathon based on this principle.

The extension has one simple goal: hide any mentions of Valentine's Day, whether in text or images. Users can choose whether to completely hide the offending content, or to blur it out. The extension functions in both Czech and English.

"We needed to test the technology with real traffic, so we were looking for a simple application. And we thought we'd test it on something that annoys us. The first thought we had was to hide all the roses, diamonds, romantic messages and other typical Valentine's Day offers and advertisements before Valentine's Day," says Dousková.

If the V-Day Blocker is successful, STRV has plans for the technology far beyond Valentine's Day. Ultimately, users would be able to identify and block any kind of content they wish based on specific strings of text or types of images.

"The goal is to offer users a solution that gives them absolute control over what they see on the Internet. For example, they will be able to hide photos of ex-partners, text or graphics containing triggers for anxiety and panic attacks, or filter out spoilers for a TV series they haven't seen yet," adds Dousková.

"They will be able to choose everything from keywords and topics to specific people and places. We place special emphasis on safety. We use edge computing, where all content analysis takes place directly on the user's device and nothing is sent anywhere. This greatly contributes to security, speed and reduced data consumption."

"We can filter ads better than other ad blockers, because we do not deal with the IP addresses of advertisers, but directly with the content of the ad."

Tired of being inundated with Valentine's Day content and advertising? STRV's V-Day Blocker can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store, and look out for further applications from the company in the near future.

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