You need a cat to deal with an Internet troll

Israeli programmer creates Google Chrome extension that blocks annoying Web comments with a cute cat icon.

Comments to Cats.

Comments to Cats.

Internet trolls thrive on sowing discord, upsetting people and posting off-topic and usually hateful messages. Feeling catty about this trend, an Israeli programmer has created a Chrome extension that replaces nasty comments with pictures of cats.

Etay Liberman, a data analyst by day, taught himself how to build Google Chrome extensions and developed Comments to Cats as his response to mean talkbacks. As its name would suggest, Comments to Cats “blocks the comments at the bottom and literally, transforms them to nice, chubby cats who have nothing mean to say.”

Liberman’s girlfriend, Judy Van Der Levin, tells ISRAEL21c that the nasty talkbacks on a popular Israeli news site prompted the new extension. “I always tell myself not to read the comments at the bottom of an article but I always end up scrolling down,” she says. “People can be so mean. I told Etay that we should do something.”

The 27-year-old Liberman dedicated one month of his time to building Comments to Cats. Though he’s a dog person, Liberman and Van Der Levin chose to use cat icons because furry felines are so prevalent on the web.

Liberman’s sister, illustrator Noa Liberman Plashkes, designed the site and the cat avatars. Friends of theirs volunteered photos of their pet cats, too.

Comments to Cats officially launched on August 19. So far, Liberman and Van Der Levin have received purr-friendly feedback. As for people who are tired of seeing cats on the WWW highway, Van Der Levin says they’re open to adding dogs, new themes or drawings.

Van Der Levin, who runs the popular Hebrew-language Facebook page “Tel Aviv apartments that depress me,” says that now instead of being annoyed by awful comments, she sees photos and avatars of cats. “If you want to ignore comments, use this. It’s such a simple thing,” she says.

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. She has jumped out of a plane, ducked rockets and been attacked by a baboon all in the name of a good story. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.