Facebook Threatens Greasemonkey Script Writer

from the but-it's-in-the-browser dept

Another day, another abusive bullying attempt. This time, it’s Facebook, which is apparently trying to bully the maker of a Greasemonkey script that cleans up your Facebook live feed by removing annoying app notices (such as all the crap your friends are doing in Farmville and Mafia Wars). It sounds quite useful. Originally, the script was called Facebook Purity, and Facebook complained about the trademark issue (a stretch… but perhaps you could see the company’s point). So the guy changed the name to Fluff Busting Purity. No trademark issue at all. But Facebook is still complaining. The thing is, this is a Greasemonkey user script — meaning that everything happens in the user’s browser — which Facebook has no claim over. If you tell your browser to ignore certain things on a website, that should be your choice. This add-on is there to help people who want it, such that it makes Facebook more useful to them. It’s too bad that as Facebook gets bigger, we’re hearing more and more stories of this kind of bullying activity.

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Comments on “Facebook Threatens Greasemonkey Script Writer”

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116 Comments
Simon Jones (user link) says:

This functionality exists within Facebook already

Perhaps it’s just that I don’t have many friends, or many friends that play silly games, but it is incredibly easy to block all updates from a certain app/fan page/person right there in Facebook’s own interface.

I suppose this script might make it more of a 1-click solution, but really there are 2 things I find weird here. Firstly, if this many people cared about purified feeds why weren’t they already blocking apps updates, and secondly, why does Facebook care about the script if it just repeats it’s own functionality?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This functionality exists within Facebook already

“and secondly, why does Facebook care about the script if it just repeats it’s own functionality?”

Perhaps facebook will think that this app confuses people into thinking that facebook itself has less function, according to facebook, makes facebook look bad? I’m not saying their ideas are justified (if anything a lawsuit makes Facebook look worse), just trying to put myself in facebooks shoes.

A more likely answer is that facebook hired a bunch of new lawyers who now need to justify themselves and what better way for a lawyer to justify him/her self than to make legal threats and initiate lawsuits.

Mike C. (profile) says:

Re: This functionality exists within Facebook already

While the functionality DOES exist within Facebook already, the default settings are permissive (you have to explicitly block each and every application). While I do play Mafia Wars and a couple others, I don’t want to see all the thousands of stupid quizzes that people are creating all the time. I’m tired of having to block them every time a new one pops up. Of course I’m misrepresenting the number of quizzes I see, but that doesn’t mean they’re not annoying.

This script is exclusive by default and if you want something to show up, you have to specifically “whitelist” it. It also gives you the ability to block status updates with select text phrases in them. For example, I do not play “Zoo World”, but have several family members that do. They recently posted a number of updates regarding game play that I couldn’t block with the built in tools, but once this script was installed and “Zoo World” added to the blocks, the posts disappeared.

Rather handy in my book.

mike says:

Re: This functionality exists within Facebook already

Well the thing is you have to go through every friend you know and add the option to block apps from specifically them(very tedious if you have a lot of friends). The other option is to block the app itself, since there’s new apps popping up everyday it’s sorta impossible to do. So we have this lovely greasemonkey script… a nice one-click solution. Think about it, facebook wanted to make it a pain to block apps… thats why theres no “ingore all apps” button.

From Norway says:

Re: This functionality exists within Facebook already

When you hide apps from your FB-feed, then you dont see it. Wich is fine, but all the apps still have access to your FB-info, pictures,and everything on your FB-account, AND all your FB-friends info, pictures, as well.
This is not privacy.
I use Adblock Plus to remove things i dont want in FB, and block all apps as they appear, I dont just hide it, I BLOCK IT.
But there is no way in FB to block all apps automatically, you have to block every single app manually.
Not everybody knows how to do this.

Scott K says:

Re: This functionality exists within Facebook already

Facebook is free, but it’s not really “free” free, and definitely not free to run. They make their money off ad revenue, and I was reading something the other day that Farmville (or whoever makes it) is their number one source of ad revenue.

So… Somebody writes a script that blocks all app feedback from the news feed, that means fewer people are enticed into Farmville by seeing their friends playing, means Farmville starts losing revenue, means they complain to Facebook, means Facebook reacts with threats.

Personally, I don’t see it as bullying. It’s Facebook trying to protect their revenue stream, which they have to do if you want Facebook to stay around.

On the flip side, if Greasemonkey wants to avoid the trademark issues they should just rename it so it doesn’t have the letters F or B anywhere in the name. Go to News Stream Purity or something like that. They’re trying to play games with tap dancing around the Facebook name – they should just avoid it altogether.

Ivan says:

Re: This functionality exists within Facebook already

The built in application hider only blocks out items that were directly generated by the application.

As such, friends becoming fans of the app, or other user action generated items will still leak through. I think more and more of these Mafia Wars type games are doing this to get past the built in Application Hide button.

IJ says:

Re: This functionality exists within Facebook already

It’s quite easy for ongoing game apps like mafia wars or farmvile since there aren’t as many popular ones. Block it once and it’s gone for good.

What’s great about FB Purity is it blocks the annoying quizzes too. It seems like every week a new “what character from the Goonies movie are you?” quiz makes it’s rounds and blocking them individually is time consuming and pointless since by next week a new quiz will be going.

sean (profile) says:

Re: This functionality exists within Facebook already

WRONG.

You have to manually OPT OUT of every stupid new piece of fluff your friends are dumb enough to engage in on FB.

FBpurity opts you out and gives you a convienent control panel.

FB is already a big enough waste of time and bandwidth without all the crappy apps, events, updates, adds, suggestions, questions your friends answered about you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Firstly, if this many people cared about purified feeds why weren’t they already blocking apps updates

Because, if you have more than about 5 friends, they can add annoying apps that pollute your news feed faster than you can block them. It’s an arms race you can’t win.

And thanks for the heads-up. I’ll definitely be installing this one tonight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Alrighty, sit right down kid and I’ll tell you about efficiency.

Now when you have a repetitive action that occurs all the time that’s time wasted. Sure it might not be anything more than a second but the seconds add up. Computers were invented to keep shaving time out of our lives of doing repetitive tasks.

Lets say it takes a minute to install this script. 60 seconds of life spent.

Lets say this AC uses facebook for at least 5 years, and has a copious amount of friends. So lets say 1 new app a week for 5 years where he has to spend a second going “hide app” that’s 260 seconds approximately give or take leap years, leap seconds, leaping frogs slowing the rotation of the planet.

So this AC has saved 200 seconds of life from doing a simple task that was highly repetitive and pointless. And the time keeps racking up for as long as he uses facebook.

Matt Kruse (user link) says:

Re: Re: [Firefox Add-on, Greasemonkey script compiler]

The script compiler has an annoying unicode bug. See:
http://mattkruse.com/2010/03/26/greasemonkey-json-unicode-problems-solved/

If you want a native Firefox Add-on to clean your stream and do lots of fun stuff, go here:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/52369

It’s not FB Purity, but it’s better.

Call me Al says:

Thanks Facebook for publicising this script. I’ll install it once I get home.

As for the reason why they are doing it I expect its typical behaviour of companies. They want to control precisely how you experience their content much like the TV and movie industries want to restrict what you can do with your own TV… this kind of script challenges that immensely as it takes control away from them.

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

its not so much of how you experience their “content” as much as it is experiencing their advertising. Not that the scripts are not already out there, but scripts like this could easily remove a lot of other annoying blocks in the margins of the page as well.

Facebook’s worried about their bottom line

** This post has absolutely no evidence to support this claim **

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Since facebook’s programmers have rewritten the php runtime for their own commercial use, I’m sure they understand the browser model very well. This action sounds more like an isolated technologically illiterate management type trying to justify his existence, and I don’t think anything much will come of it.

rhandomina says:

Re: I haven't gotten threats yet.

bingo – making money off it is usually a sure way to have the hounds out for blood.

I suspect it might also have to do with Facebook’s ‘games’ and ‘apps’ feeds (which don’t seem to be ramped up yet, as they’re not catching everything for me) – possibly penalizing apps that don’t play by the rules. No complaints from users (due to users hiding everything) == apps not getting caught… Although that would be easier for Facebook in terms of not having to deal with infringing apps

Overcast (profile) says:

You know, I never would have known (or installed and used) the script if Facebook hadn’t been a bully about it. Thanks to the “Streisand Effect”, not only is my news feed cleaner, but I’ll be passing this along to ALL my friends and helping them install it too.

Thanks Facebook!

Likewise, I will pass this on to all the people I know on Facebook too 🙂

Red says:

I just make it a habit to *hide* app notices like farmville, mafia wars, etc. as they come. I mean one-two clicks I never had to see the app again, pretty easy.

Sure its slightly inconvient to do so, but I think the less I (or average user) have to manage how my browser renders each sites content specifically and just go directly to the problems source to change it (which is possible with the facebook site), seems just more of a simpler solution to me.

Rick says:

The script is redundant...

Why someone felt a need to write a script that Facebook to do what you can do already YOURSELF on Facebook is beyond me.

Although it is sad that hardly anyone knows this, but you can mouse over a post for say; Farmville or Mafia Wars and click Hide – then click Hide ALL Mafia Wars or Farmville posts and never see them again from ANY friend.

I do that every time I see a Bejewelled horoscope zoo island type post from anyone and my feed is clean as can be….

stimpysean (profile) says:

Re: The script is redundant...

The script is redundant…
by Rick

Why someone felt a need to write a script that Facebook to do what you can do already YOURSELF on Facebook is beyond me.

I do that every time I see a Bejewelled horoscope zoo island type post from anyone and my feed is clean as can be….
—–

Rick,

You wrote the above.. Don’t you see the irony in your post??

How much time do you have to spend “cleaning your feed”???

Things like Ad block, and greasemonkey make the new “Web” tolerable.

JackSombra (profile) says:

“It’s too bad that as Facebook gets bigger, we’re hearing more and more stories of this kind of bullying activity.”Par for the course for any growing company really

First the mindless management drones take over (you know the type, more interested in covering their own ass than anything else, unable to make a decision without a 10 committees backing them and 100’s of meetings to “get everyone on board”)

Due to these people being in charge and increasing costs dramatically this then leads to the accountants taking over (aka people with no knowadge of the company’s actual business, but basically acting as the power behind the throne, dictating how the company is run)

And because the accountant really don’t know how to run the business (and all decent managers left long ago) they then hire lots of lawyers to protect the company and the lawyers to justify their cost to the accountants start attacking everybody and viewing everything at a threat to the company

Then a few years later a new, dynamic, energetic forward thinking start up comes along and wipes them out (unless first company buys them up first) and whole process starts over again

Basically the cycle of life, corporate style

Mason Sklut (user link) says:

Facebook Doesn't Know Interface Design At All

“UnFuck Facebook” with this handy Greasemonkey script:
http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/11992

Facebook you have no right to complain. It’s a user’s own choice!

Maybe when you guys make a better user-interface and REAL privacy options, then you can talk. Otherwise, quit screwing up your already screwed up website.

Henry says:

@Rick: The problem is that apps on Facebook are whitelisted by default and you “blacklist” (i.e. block) apps you don’t want to see. Unfortunately, users of the script in general hate the majority of apps so they want a Facebook where apps are blacklisted by default, and you “whitelist” those you want to see (i.e. like Nokia applications which post via their own application).

Brian (profile) says:

hides more than apps

for those saying that Facebook already gives you this ability, perhaps you can tell us how to get rid of all of those “is a fan of” posts.
That to me was the biggest issue, as I was already blocking mafiawars and farmville crap.

I even had to block a few friends because they were ‘fans’ of so many groups and pages.

Problem was, I didn’t want to block people, just the fluff.
THAT is what this script does. Clears out all of the junk.

But, it’s there to see anytime you want by simply clicking on the ‘show’ link. So, if you needed to check on who became friends with who, a quick click shows the fluff (without the clutter of content).

If his facebook page is taken down, he may still have his site http://www.fbpurity.com

Zac Morris (profile) says:

Latest post to the Author's FB page

Here is the latest post to the author’s Facebook page:

    Fluff Busting Purity Well the corporate bullies have struck again, they are threatening to delete this page and shutdown my website too if their ridiculous demands are not met by 7pm GMT this evening. They demand I remove all references to “FB Purity” and also even more bizarrely “F*** B*** Purity” from both myfan page and my website

Seems like a thin case Facebook has, but I’ve seen more ridiculous cases win. Do they have a leg to stand on?

jonathan (user link) says:

Facebook's trademark policies are very over-reaching

We developed an app for updating Facebook from Twitter that is now called TweetPo.st. It was originally called TweetFace until Facebook objected to the use of the word ‘face’ in the name. Unfortunately, we needed to use their APIs which made us subject to their draconian developer terms of service. As you said, this guy’s app doesn’t use anything from Facebook and it should be able to do whatever he (and his customers) want it to do.

Anonymoose says:

Here's the dopey thing...

I’d actually stopped using Facebook after the last redesign. The signal to noise went to zero after they took away options to filter out specific things from feeds (e.g. joe is a friend of himself, appspam, etc).

Thanks to FB making a fuss, I know there’s a tool that makes the site usable again. Reverse SE?

Matt Kruse (user link) says:

"Better Facebook" is another greasemonkey script

Well, if this guy is getting in trouble, then surely I will shortly.

My domain is: http://BetterFacebook.net

My Greasemonkey script does a lot of what Facebook Purity does, plus a lot more. If they don’t like his, they sure ad hell aren’t going to like mine.

If they would spend this time improving their horrible site and minimal features, they might actually get rid of the need for these scripts. As it is, I depend on Better Facebook to make the site usable.

If nothing else, they should be finding the authors of these scripts and hiring them. Maybe then their site wouldn’t need to be modified by user scripts to not suck.

V2 says:

Get over it man...

It’s totally justified of Facebook to be pissed at the guy for using their trademark! You can’t even use Face or Book in the names of any applications you submit to Facebook. I can’t just go out and start a company called Microsoft Purity without expecting Microsoft to be pissed.

This sounds more like a ploy to get people to download the script then anything else. As others have already pointed out you can already block all notifications from any application you want.

John Awesome says:

Former FB purity user

I used to be a major evangelist of FB Purity. Then, FB started this practice of changing their page every week or so, and then I’d have to get an update to the FB Purity script, which could sometimes take a day.

What would happen is my news/status feed would suddenly be blank. After a few times, I learned to go to the FB Purity page each time this happened. If an update wasn’t available, I would simply disable the script in Greesemonkey (or just disable GM).

Each time it disabled, I got flooded with Farmarea/Mafia Skirmish/Begemmed type notifications. Eventually, I got sick of the FB/FB Purity battles and just started hiding every app that came across my feed.

Now, each time I encounter a new app, I hide in 2 clicks and the problem is eliminated at the source (unless facebook looses all my hide settings by ‘accident’).

Justin says:

This functionality does NOT exist within facebook...

To everyone saying this functionality already exists, can you please then tell me how to block the extremely annoying “so-and-so has become friends with so-and-so” posts, and the “so-and-so has become a fan of ‘something I really couldnt care less about'”? Those, more than any app notices, make this and similar scripts extremely helpful.

Leave Facebook says:

Leave Facebook. Just leave it. Quit the site. If I could leave Facebook again I’d leave it and attribute it to this BS.

Facebook is run by wold famous douche-canoe Mark Zuckerberg, who in the early days of the site sabotaged a competitor and hacked into the email of editors of the Harvard student paper. Now that he was some weight to throw around you get stuff like this, and Beacon. Don’t give this guy any more power over your social life. Quit Facebook.

GreaseMonkeyRocks says:

Facebook script best thing ever

I must say that I love the unf**kfacebook script is best script ever written it cleans up all the useless junk that face book has on their website it is nice that i can get rid of all the annoyances from face book and bring it back to how it use to be when it started with almost no app notifications. Face-book should just have an option to remove all those apps from your account including all the tracking information that these apps provide when installed by users. First face-book had horribly privacy agreement which was slightly improved and now they try to bully a guy that has made face-book experience better at lest for me I am sure other users out there as well. How can you punish someone who created a script that is harmless and improves usability and look of face book.

Anonymous Coward says:

I recall being bewildered by all those farmville things when I couldn’t get on it. I agree there should be a way to disable them if you want. Those who post are posting for fellow players to interact, so those who don’t play should be able to opt out of the feeds. Or maybe one should just automatically opt in anyone who plays and by default leave out those who don’t-but then again facebook and zynga probably consider that cutting off their advertising!

anila says:

hello i need facebook help

hello i need your help i need to know is there any script of face book wich can send several wall posts my id is been hacked and the person hacked it usin it in a bad way whenever i post there that its a fake id dont reply to my friends that person delete it i want to send so many messages that he cant delte it pls if anybudy can help reply on my email i will b v thankfull

The Ceej (user link) says:

You mean Facebook, one of the two largest data farms in the world, and one of the most authoritarian companies in the world, that has an unholy alliance with many shady types, including governments, will go out of their way to stop one from exercising personal choice in their every day life?
NO!! That could never happen!

I mean, it’s not as if Facebook does this sort of thing and worse all the time! It’s not as if they regularly deliberately break userscripts. It’s not as if they wilfully sabotage relationships or unethically adjust Facebook feed contents for their own “studies” jollies. It’s not as if they roll back the like counts and delete comments on people they feel are a threat to them. It’s not as if they hide things from people’s feeds as punishment both for the poster and the person who wants to view it. It’s not as if they spy on you all over the internet, and even in your offline life too…

There’s no way they’d do this sort of thing!

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