Facebook Apparently Won't Let Users Talk About Facebook's Lawsuit With Power.com

from the how-do-you-like-your-free-speech dept

Yet another reminder of why relying on Facebook for conversations or discussions is highly problematic. We've noted in the past that Facebook doesn't allow any links to The Pirate Bay, even if the links are perfectly legal. But it appears to also be blocking mentions of its ongoing lawsuit with Power.com, which we were discussing just last week. Eric Goldman's blog also had a blog post about the ruling (well worth reading, by the way). Goldman regularly mentions his blog posts on Twitter and has his Twitter account set to automatically post his updates to his Facebook account as well. He noticed, oddly, that the tweet about the Power.com case somehow did not make it to his Facebook account, and tried to post it manually... and was blocked. Apparently, Facebook ridiculously overaggressive "spam filters" block any and all mentions of Power.com.
After a little more experimentation, I discovered that every instance of the character string "power.com" is blocked in Facebook. Therefore, every time I put "power.com" into my status reports or in comments to those status reports--even if it's the only content in the post/comment--I get the "blocked content" message. However, it's easily avoided; I can post "power . com" (notice the spaces before and after the period) just fine. Basically, Facebook is using a very dumb word filter.
While Facebook didn't respond to Goldman's initial claim that this content was flagged in error, he reached out to press contacts there, who tried to defend the blanket "dumb word filter ban," by saying that Power.com had done some spammy abusive things with user accounts. While that may be true, that's no reason to block any and all mentions of Power.com especially when the company is currently involved in an important lawsuit with Facebook. Even if there are legitimate reasons for the "dumb word filter," it makes Facebook look petty and as if it's trying to deny all discussion of the important legal issues involved in the lawsuit.

Goldman points out that one aspect of the Power.com lawsuit is that the company is claiming Facebook is violating antitrust law. Given that, it seems like it might not look good for Facebook to (clumsily) block all conversations about Power.com. That would appear to play directly into Power.com's claims of anti-competitive behavior.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 28th, 2010 @ 7:47am

    This so reminds me of the way Apple operates.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jul 28th, 2010 @ 8:04am

    First rule of Facebook:

    Never talk about The Facebook...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2010 @ 9:18am

    I wonder if something like ibuypower.com is blocked...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jul 28th, 2010 @ 9:35am

    Just tried it. I got this message:

    Message Failed
    This message contains blocked content that has previously been flagged as abusive or spammy. Let us know if you think this is an error.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 28th, 2010 @ 9:44am

    Re:

    I'm beginning to think that all of Facebook is an error....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    flicmod, Jul 28th, 2010 @ 9:56am

    I just posted the link to this blog on BookFace and it accepted it. I think the "dumb word filter" theory is correct.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Jul 28th, 2010 @ 10:49am

    I'm with Dark Helmet there. ^^

    I use Facebook so little anymore... I've really thought about deleting the account, to be honest.

    I would; however, use a social networking site that doesn't interfere with my free speech. Of course, it's their site - they can do what they want..

    But then - I don't have to use it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Jul 28th, 2010 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re:

    "I'm beginning to think that all of Facebook is an error...."

    Any slower and you'd bump into MySpace..

    Seriously though, the only reason most informed people seem to use Facebook is because it is popular. The sooner something comes along that makes social network lock-in redundant the better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    mattarse (profile), Jul 28th, 2010 @ 11:09am

    Re:

    try putting the word "power.com" in your description of the link - blocks me every time I try that, but power dot com worked.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2010 @ 11:46am

    Facebook = Facepalm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2010 @ 11:46am

    Double facepalm all the way!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jul 28th, 2010 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Agreed. Hoping for a decent result out of Diaspora. For awhile, anyway, until it too becomes corrupt. Then we'll move to the next platform...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    flicmo, Jul 28th, 2010 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re:

    That's the trick: nb\ot putting a personal note along with the link. Apparently the filter won't scan text in a link description, only in user-entered text.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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