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Facebook Social Networks Businesses

Facebook Deletes Social Fixer Community Page Without Explanation 192

Posted by timothy
from the cartoon-supervillain dept.
New submitter ComradeF writes "Matt Kruse, author of the Social Fixer for Facebook browser extension, warns users of the dangers of building a community on a platform that can and will shut you down on a whim: 'It's gone. Years of work and almost 340,000 fans, wiped out. Erased. I have never been given any details about what "community standards" I was apparently violating (because I wasn't). This is a case of Facebook choosing to shut down someone's business just because they want to, not because they were doing anything wrong. This is extremely frustrating and disappointing to me, and should be to others as well.' The administrators and moderators of his Page found that their personal Facebook accounts have been silenced for 12 hours, as well." I've recently installed Social Fixer, and find it tremendously useful; this news just inspired me to donate a few bucks to Kruse — cheaper than what Mark Zuckerberg would like to hear my complaint.
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Facebook Deletes Social Fixer Community Page Without Explanation

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  • by teknopurge (199509) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:19AM (#44829799) Homepage
    As a company providing APIs and encouraging development on your platform is great as long as you maintain control. The problem with APIs is apps can, provided the APIs provide enough of the right data, totally remove your influence in favor of the developer using your APIs. I first saw this Social Fixer app a few weeks back and I immediately thought "finally, someone that will remind us who owns facebook: the users." Facebook will have no revenue if they cannot monetize the marketing of their site, and with free APIs they can't do that. Paid APIs? Devs want free access, so you'll kill your dev community if you start charging.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:40AM (#44830039)

      Nope. This story is about this guy crying because FB is finally being fair. They've shut down several other extensions which alter how FB pages are rendered, and that's what his extension does. He even posts a link to an Ars Technica article about him and his extension, which clearly explains what happened to other people who tried making extensions that alter the page rendering. Here's what FB's legal team said to one of those other authors:

      "Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities prohibits integrations that impair the proper working or appearance of Facebook, including those that interfere with page rendering Your extension was reported as interfering with and/or impairing site functionality and page rendering and links to your site have been blocked.”

      Here's the full Ars Article: http://arstechnica.com/business/2013/08/meet-matt-kruse-the-man-making-facebook-better/

      • by Entropius (188861) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @11:18AM (#44830587)

        This really tells it in a nutshell.

        This extension doesn't "interfere with or impair" the USER at all -- in fact, it does what the user wants.

        Now we know for whose benefit that nonsense is written (like we didn't before, but meh...)

        • by Krojack (575051)

          While I hate ads myself and remove them in my own method from FB, if everyone used these types of mods then FB would have no way of making money off advertisments. That's what they are trying to prevent. I myself use Stylish [google.com] and just make my own small CSS changes. Below is what I put together. All it does is hide a few page elements such as ads.

          ul.fbChatOrderedList > li:not(.active):not(.mobile), ._uiStreamStoryAttachmentOnly, .fbTimelineSideAds,
          #pagelet_ego_pane_w,
          #pagelet_ego_pane
          {
          di

          • by Entropius (188861)

            I would much rather pay Facebook a monthly fee for accounts than have ads. That way the customers would be the users, and the service would be responsive to us, rather than the advertisers...

            • by mattack2 (1165421)

              I suspect there are very few people who would pay for FB without ads. (I'd pay for TV shows without ads, but not at the kinds of prices various video services charge per individual episode. So instead I use a Tivo to avoid ads. I'd prefer no ads, no bugs, no shrunk credits instead.)

      • Considering how obscured and anti-intuitive Facebook is, it's difficult to understand how they can complain about changes impairing its "proper working or appearance".
      • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @12:05PM (#44831175)

        That's the same lame-ass argument those serving ads whine over -- you shouldn't have control over how to present the page or block parts of it which is total bullocks.

        When I look at content -- I want it tailored for me -- so I can quickly separate the noise from the signal.

        If some company wants to cry that somebody is making their content MORE valuable by providing OPTIONS for how people view then they are being extremely short-sighted and not understanding the value the community brings.

        Blizzard learnt this by _allowing_ custom UI mods in World of Warcraft. Years later the best mods have become built into the game. /sarcasm Oh noes! "Someone is altering our page rendering" Quick, sue the browser makers!!

        • making their content MORE valuable

          If your website makes money by selling ads, anything that removes those ads has not made your content more valuable. It has in fact made that content worth nothing to the provider.

          Maybe it seems more valuable to you ... but as has been said time and time before, with any free service, you are not the customer. You are the product.

          • > anything that removes those ads has not made your content more valuable. It has in fact made that content worth nothing to the provider.

            That is an incomplete picture. What value do you put on your community? There are many sites I use because of the _people_ who freely share their knowledge, tips, comradery.

            Aside from a few niche markets relying on ads to support your site is short-sighted business sense, as in, half-baked. If a company thinks their "ad business" is what brings me to their site in th

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:56AM (#44830255)

      The users don't own Facebook. The users are the product that Facebook sells to advertisers.

    • by gsslay (807818)

      "finally, someone that will remind us who owns facebook: the users."

      Someone please mod parent as "funny", for this hilarious statement alone.

    • by morgauxo (974071)

      Yes, someone just did remind people owns Facebook. It's not the users, it never was. Why would it be? The users didn't create it, don't pay for it, don't run the servers, don't hold the domain etc...

      If you want to own your own content then go out and buy whateveryoulike.name. If you post your crap on somebody else's site and don't like what that site does with it then STFU.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:21AM (#44829821)

    It lets mere users control what they see on their own Facebook pages, rather than Facebook and advertisers determining it.

    What was he thinking?

    • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:24AM (#44829855) Homepage Journal

      To be completely fair, it was highly irresponsible to not do everything you're told to by a corporation. They want what's best for everyone.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      It lets mere users control what they see on their own Facebook pages, rather than Facebook and advertisers determining it.

      What was he thinking?

      ..if it's just client side, what did they do to block it? sounds like there's something more to it.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:23AM (#44829839)

    To throw a few lawyers and systems administrators and delete the problem than it is to hire a few good interaction designers to fix it and deny the folks in marketing their 10 pieces of mandatory Facebook flair.

  • Owned! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:23AM (#44829843)

    That's EXACTLY what you get when you don't own the server on which your "site" is based. Regardless of the user agreement, TOS, or whatever, this will happen on any such site. You were immensely naive to have not realised this to begin.
     
    captcha: unkindly
     
    Sorry, but some times, the truth hurts. :(

    • by HiThere (15173)

      Well, not quite. But it's what you should expect if you depend on proprietary APIs and *can't* host your own site.

  • by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:26AM (#44829871)
    News at 11.
    (On a more serious note, the same thing happened to the extension FB Purity [fbpurity.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Anyone that has no control over what their business requires is going to fail sooner or later. If it was a genuine business, Kruse should have a contract in place with Facebook, like every other entity that needs Facebook's APIs and data for their own business.

  • Good. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:27AM (#44829891)

    Stop giving up your life to big business, and they'll stop being able to tear you a new one.

    This isn't like that other article, where the British government is selling off a natural monopoly so you're forced to use a particular business. This is you thinking that you are entitled to get Zuckerberg to do anything more than widen the smile on his deservedly smug face.

    • Stop giving up your life to big business, and they'll stop being able to tear you a new one.

      This isn't like that other article, where the British government is selling off a natural monopoly so you're forced to use a particular business. This is you thinking that you are entitled to get Zuckerberg to do anything more than widen the smile on his deservedly smug face.

      Or, at least, chose a big business that doesn't have so much market power. There are plenty of suppliers who offer, y'know, actually-two-sided contracts, or (this one blows my mind; but it's true) actually run a business where they do better by not screwing over their customers. It's crazy. There are also suppliers who sell commodities, and the worst they can do is give their competitors' salesweasels a good day.

  • Simple Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:28AM (#44829899)

    He writes an application that runs on top of your browser when it's looking at facebook. why not throw in some code to re-imagine his fan page the way it was before? This could serve as the start of a way to wean users from facebook altogether, give them a little real content mixed with more open data (like a social media aggregator) and eventually replace the entire facebook experience with an aggregated one that can share/source on any platform. that way, when one provider does something silly (or vengeful, whatever) the app just routes around it.

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      This will be Google's killer app/plugin!

      Once installed it will merge your facebook and G+ feeds.
      It will create a circle on G+ called facebook or some such and eventually everyone on facebook will be using G+.
      Profit!
    • by Khashishi (775369)

      Javascript is all run on the client. What you envision would require big servers and big data. Doable, but it would take serious resources.

  • Maybe Kruse was a B.U. student and it's Schmuckerberg's thinly veiled attempt at railing against a university who is now #41 in the country. Go Terriers!

  • If Facebook violated a contract then they have grounds for legal action. Otherwise, to quote Airplace "They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say 'let'em crash'". caveat emptor

  • by Phrogman (80473) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:31AM (#44829937) Homepage

    Facebook got rid of something that took away their control over how the users interacted with FB's pages. Is that surprising? FB wants direct interaction and monitoring of its cattle so that it can package up their information to sell to the highest bidder. Why would they tolerate anything that threatens that by giving users better control over their use of the site. It might hide some useful information that they are gathering by the inefficient design they have created.

    Facebook: always remember you are the product, not the customer. The customers are Big Business (and now the NSA apparently) :P

    This is why every single user should delete their FB account.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by udachny (2454394)

      As I understand it they deleted the guy's page on FB, but they can't as easily destroy the browser extensions (addons) that he built for FF, Chrome, Opera and Safari. He will keep working on those, but he lost his FB account.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Facebook got rid of a page on Facebook which describes Social Fixer and provided a link to the distribution point, and support for SF. The actual distribution point, located off of Facebook's servers, still exists, and Social Fixer STILL WORKS. (The same can be said for the other, "banned" extension, Facebook Purity.)

      When you (Facebook) design your product (Facebook) to run as a javascript app within a user's browser, you have ALREADY GIVEN UP total control of your site.

    • by Arker (91948)

      "Facebook got rid of something that took away their control over how the users interacted with FB's pages."

      The web was specifically designed to prevent that from happening.

      And then intentionally gimped to allow it.

      Turn off javascript and take back the web.

    • by bmo (77928) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @11:23AM (#44830665)

      >This is why every single user should delete their FB account.

      And go where, Yahoo, G+, Geocities?

      Even Usenet is harvested 100 different ways to Sunday.

      All these posts in this thread saying "stop interacting with big business." Have y'all looked around? Try doing that without becoming a hermit living in the woods. The battle has been lost, folks.

      "B...but Diaspora!" Diaspora is slow and to really take advantage of it, you have to run your own server, which means that 99 percent of users can't even wrap their heads around the concept.

      >NSA

      They're in the NOCs. Good luck with that.

      --
      BMO

      • by Valdrax (32670)

        "B...but Diaspora!" Diaspora is slow and to really take advantage of it, you have to run your own server, which means that 99 percent of users can't even wrap their heads around the concept.

        Forget the concept. 99% of users can't even do it because it would be a violation of their terms of service.

      • And go where, Yahoo, G+, Geocities?

        Slashdot, of course! The OP is obviously a paying customer of Slashdot, and he disables all advertisements, uses a fake username and email, so that he never becomes a "product" by Big Customers buying his personal info and eyeballs.

        And this is why he hasn't deleted his Slashdot account yet.

      • > And go where, Yahoo, G+, Geocities?

        Neither. How about old human interaction???

        What precisely is so important on Facebook that requires your digital-pseudo-life to over-ride and neglect the physical interaction?

        • by Cederic (9623)

          It's not an "either or". Most facebook users I know use Facebook to coordinate some of their physical interactions and then discuss them afterwards.

      • by sstamps (39313)

        Go where we've been for the last 20 years before FarceBork. Community-run social sites and forums. FarceBork knows nothing about me, nor will it ever, and I am very happy with that decision.

        The battle is only lost to those who throw their weapons and armor on the ground before the battle is even over. Just lay down and die already, amirite?

        As for the topic, play in the Devil's sandbox, eat soiled kitty litter. Don't like it? Go pound said kitty litter.

      • And go where, Yahoo, G+, Geocities?

        See .sig. But we need somebody with resources to monetize the tech. Academics and business plans don't always (often?) come from the same place.

        The Web won out over AOL (et. al.), despite AOL's early-mover advantage. Social networking will eventually do the same thing, for the same reasons.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          AOL was a latecomer, and thought it could take it's own user base and take over the web and internet which already had more users than AOL did, plus a much longer history and an open architecture. Though in some ways AOL did win because the internet and web eventually became highly commercialized.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Why go anywhere? What is so necessary about sending GIFs of cats to strangers.

    • > This is why every single user should delete their FB account

      Sadly, that will never happen: People have become wussies. Instead of doing something about they will just bitch about it, and keep using it.

      But yes that is the proper solution to send the proper message: Critical mass take control back by stopping giving their power away. That is the only way corporations will ever "learn". Unfortunately people, in mass, aren't that smart. :-((

      . /queue next internet fad in 5 years ...

    • Facebook got rid of something that...

      They've only got rid of it from Facebook. It's still alive and kicking at its own website [socialfixer.com].

  • Streisand.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bazorg (911295) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:32AM (#44829951)

    Quite remarkable idea for a Firefox extension. I have to try it immediately!

    • Quite remarkable idea for a Firefox extension. I have to try it immediately!

      You must be a nerd. Most of my FB friends *like* to complain about Facebook.

      Them: "God, I hate it when FB does [thing]".
      Me: "You can install the SocialFixer extension to avoid [thing]. [link]. If you need any help installing it, let me know, I'd be happy to walk you through the setup."
      Them (one week later): "God, I hate it when FB does [thing]".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have a sneaking suspicion that in a month or so facebook is going to release a "premium" interface, which will be disturbingly similar to Social Fixer.

    • by gsslay (807818)

      Bet you a gazillion dollars they won't. Such a move would create a hierarchy of facebook user, and facebook is happy to have everyone on the same "cattle-class" interface. Indeed, that's its whole business model. Give me your data and consume your adverts!

  • Ideas.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:37AM (#44830011) Homepage

    Like every updated forcing me to "like" his page automatically, so I have to unlike it on every update. That's kind of scummy for his greasemonkey script to auto like pages.

  • Gone from the easily accessible ... sure. Deleted? No way.

    Facebook doesn't delete anything. Ever.

    They can put it back anytime they want.

    $10 says that once enough people bitch, we'll here some BS excuse about an accident or bug and it suddenly re-appear.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Didn't Slashdot just link to an article on Ars how he was almost recruited by Facebook and how he steered clear of certain areas of customization?
    http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/08/25/2053214/meet-the-programmer-behind-social-fixer

  • Well, well, well. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:42AM (#44830079) Journal
    I'm not entirely taken with Nicholas Carr; but he has a useful little coinage to cover this situation: "Digital sharecropper".

    It beats real sharecropping (sometimes you get air conditioning, and even paid in real money rather than scrip and debt peonage!); but if your business (or your hobby, though businesses tend to be more financially painful) depends on a third party, with which you have absolutely no leverage other than their power and mere pleasure, (and where your business consists largely of making their business incrementally more successful), you are a sharecropper. And, while the timing of the crackdown is sometimes rather baffling, since it doesn't even seem to be to the landlord's advantage, it is closer to being an inevitability than a mere possibility.

    This doesn't mean that you have to do everything 100% alone in order to not be a sharecropper, commodities are safe enough, as are companies so mired in the demands of actually-powerful customers that they will have difficultly cutting the feet out from under you at a greater than glacial pace; but a situation where you are 100% dependent on a single third party who has the right, and the ability, to cut you down just by revoking an API key or deleting a page on their own servers? They own you.
  • Hmmmm .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:47AM (#44830125) Homepage

    his is a case of Facebook choosing to shut down someone's business just because they want to, not because they were doing anything wrong.

    Isn't one of the things Social Fixer is doing is trying to prevent Facebook et al from tracking you?

    So, if you have a community page on Facebook detailing how to block some of Facebook's functionality ... then maybe you chose the wrong platform to do this one?

    Facebook doesn't owe you your business, but superficially (and possibly incorrectly) it seems like Facebook might be annoyed you're using their system to bypass/alter some of the elements of Facebook.

    Facebook can't say a damned thing if you host this elsewhere -- but isn't this is kind of like expecting Microsoft to host articles detailing how to pirate Microsoft products?

    Welcome to the world of Terms of Service and EULAs, where the people who own the service can and will make any changes they want and you don't get a vote.

    • t isn't this is kind of like expecting Microsoft to host articles detailing how to pirate Microsoft products?

      If SocialFixer can disable ads, I sure haven't seen it.

      Here's how SocialFixer works for me: Without it, I don't use Facebook. It's UI is too horrible for me to contemplate. I've tried using it once or twice in the past year on some browser I have that didn't have SF installed, and I just stopped after about two minutes.

      SocialFixer allows me to set non-blinding colors and layout, set the sort order

  • Who could have seen this as the outcome of standing in the crosshairs of corporate power while flipping the double deuce?

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @10:52AM (#44830191) Homepage

    The Social Network Website Cycle:
    1. New social network site (SNS) starts, targeting a very small group of individuals. It's small, it's clean, it's easy to use, it helps people stay in touch with their friends, so a significant percentage of that target group joins up.
    2. SNS targets a bunch of other similar groups, and the site starts growing.
    3. SNS targets progressively wider groups until it's now millions of users.
    4. Now, it opens itself to the public.
    5. Once the user base is sufficiently large, it sells out, either via an IPO or a private sale.
    6. The people who just bought it try to "monetize" those users by selling them advertising, related apps, etc.
    7. Eventually, the users start getting fed up because the ads are too intrusive, the related apps are expensive and not useful or fun, and of course the SNS is taking people's personal information for their own use.
    8. A new SNS starts with some small target audience to rectify the bloated annoyance of the dominant SNS, and the cycle begins again.

    We've been through this a couple of times, already, and Facebook is somewhere around step 7. They'd like to stay in stages 6-7 for as long as possible.

    • its a shame, but i think your wrong about this when it comes to FB...

      remember, a huge part of the userbase is older professionals who, frankly, have no interest in changing their SN provider *unless* they do something totally outrageous (like charging a monthly fee) or something so much better is developed (unlikely) and everyone they know jumps ship.

      yes i agree young users will soon start fleeing FB (aren't they already?) because, well young people don't want to use mom n dads SN.

    • People said the same when Google came along. It won't be long until it dies and something better comes along.

      Yahoo, Alta Vista, Google, they were just part of a cycle. Another search engine will come along to supplant the dominance. The life cycle for a websearch engine was about 3 years back then. How long has Google reigned supreme?

      Things aren't like they used to be. These types of things tend to either die out fairly quickly, or stick around for many years. I don't think Facebook is in a situation where

  • We, or a lot of us, are reasonably weary of the government overreach into our personal lives. There are checks and balances in place that over long run designed to keep government from intruding too much into our lives. We could never reduce it to zero, it is necessary evil, but we can and should pragmatically minimize it.

    There is no such measures for private corporations, like Facebook, that if happen to monopolize social interaction can become worse dictators than any government. Just ima

  • I know this is way off topic, but does anyone know of a similar plugin for Gmail? One that maybe rolls back some of the stupider 'improvements' they've made to their interface?

    Specifically, something that will axe the awkward and idiotized new 'compose' and 'reply' interfaces, rolling them back a version? Oh, and restoring a one-click logout option would be sweet, too :) I understand why they hid the logout button way back when, since they definitely have a vested interest in people not logging out...eve

    • by hduff (570443)

      Use the HTML interface plus the Better Gmail FF extension..

      https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=html&zy=h [google.com]

    • Use a smtp/imap/pop client. Eliminates all that sort of crap. Also you can tie in other accounts so that your yahoo & hotmail incoming get aggregated together, should you find that desirable. The only interface you'll see is the clients UI, no bogus enhancements from the mail provider or ads either. And I have to agree, I took a look at the gmail web interface, and it's the worst. Plus, half of it won't even work with my preferred browser, it's useless.
  • None of the cool kids use facebook anyway.
  • 'It's gone. Years of work and almost 340,000 fans, wiped out. Erased.'

    He should really have made backups if his work is so valuable to him. Cloud storage might be in these days, but putting all eggs into the same basket is risky either way.

  • by Wokan (14062) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @12:10PM (#44831217) Journal

    I wouldn't have heard of this extension if FB hadn't done something to annoy this guy. I installed it this morning and tried it out. I like it. It does give me options Facebook doesn't offer and that I didn't even know I was missing. It probably won't be for everybody. Their overlay is well done, but is slightly different from FB's styles. That's probably a good thing. I'll be more likely to know where problems are coming from if I have any.

    It's not all that different from using Greasemonkey scripts to fix sites, just with Facebook APIs thrown into the mix.

  • And Facebook (Google, PayPal, whatever) screwed somebody else.

    This is capitalism.

    If you're not a customer, you're a commodity or an expense. Stop being surprised when you get treated like one.

    I bet you lost money with Zynga's IPO too...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 12, 2013 @12:37PM (#44831531)

    As somebody familiar with both Matt Kruse and Social Fixer over the last several years, allow me to clarify just what the real issue is here.

    What makes this frustrating is that the Social Fixer page, and the suspensions of the personal accounts of Matt, his wife, and all of the page administrators, is that none of them had any means of communication with anybody from Facebook about it. There ONLY option was to click an "Appeal" button. They couldn't ask exactly what they did wrong, they couldn't ask how they could make things better. It was an entirely unilateral decision made by somebody within Facebook that completely blocks the communication that social media is supposed to help foster.

    Matt is not clueless about how Facebook operates. After all, at one time, somebody within Facebook was actually recruiting him. What is even more bewildering is that this could happen in spite of the fact that SOMEBODY ELSE within Facebook knows of the work Matt does and found him to be favorable enough to even offer a job. So, now Matt is only left to wonder, did this removal of his community page happen because Facebook is cold and mechanical, or did this happen because somebody within Facebook has an axe to grind with him personally?

    To me it's not astonishing that this happened, it's astonishing as to HOW it could happen.

  • Microsoft either abandons or "dead-ends" languages and platforms with gay abandon. Google drops popular and useful things like google reader because it just didn't monetize quickly enough for some bean counter. Facebook follows in their footsteps by doing the same thing.

    We developers are less than fleas to large corporations. Your only defense is to hitch your star to open source languages and platforms. Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and their ilk simply don't give a shit about their development communities.

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