Facebook and Instagram pics have an ASCII art secret

Chris Burns - Jan 29, 2016
Facebook and Instagram pics have an ASCII art secret

The folks behind Facebook’s image upload software are revealed to have been translating images into ASCII art automatically. While we’re not certain how web standards enthusiast Mathias Bynens happened upon this bit of code sorcery, we are sure that he’s discovered something magical. To find the ASCII magic in a Facebook image or an Instagram image, the user has only to append “.html” after that image’s “.jpg” marker. It’s that easy, really.

If you wish to make your Facebook or Instagram image into ASCII art, you’ll first need to find the URL of said image. This isn’t always easy. To do this, you could potentially have several steps you could take. Here will just discuss the most basic.

Instagram or Facebook:
1. In your Chrome web browser, tap View – Developer – View Source.
2. Search for “.jpg”
3. Copy/paste URLs as you find them – here’s an example: https://instagram.ffar1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/t51.2885-15/e35/12353918_1642497756023987_1104642188_n.jpg
4. Add .html to the end of the URL and you’ll find a ready-made piece of ASCII art waiting for you.

This same method works with “.txt” at the end of an image URL in Instagram or Facebook. If you use .txt, you’ll find the same image, only this time it’ll be in black and white instead of color.


From there, you can choose to take a screenshot of the whole business or, once again, go into the source and copy all of the code from the page to paste it yourself on your own Geocities or Angelfire website, which we know you have stashed away somewhere.

The $1,000,000 question here is: why? Why does Facebook and Instagram have this feature set up? Were they planning on releasing a text-only version of Facebook or Instagram? Were they going to set up a Mavis Beacon or Word Munchers type situation that would teach you, the end user, how to type properly?

Does this have something to do with 3rd-world countries and their lack of internet speed and bandwidth? Is this something Microsoft and Google should be aware of in their bid for keeping one step ahead of the next big thing?

Will Facebook make a Facebook phone that only shows text? Could it be a return to the original mobile phone, or the Apple IIe for classrooms? What is going on here?!

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