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.

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