Facebook Banning & Threatening People For Making Facebook Better Is Everything That's Wrong With Facebook

from the such-nonsense dept

Regular readers know that I'm a believer in trying to get the big internet companies to embrace a more protocols over platforms approach, in which they're building something that others can then build on as well, and improve in their own ways (without fear of having the rug pulled out from under them). It's why I'm hopeful about Twitter working on just such a plan with its Bluesky project. Facebook, unfortunately, takes a very different view of the world.

While I understand that some of Facebook's thinking around this is a reaction to what happened when it had created a more open platform for developers... and thenCambirdge Analytica happened, which has been an ongoing (if somewhat confusingly understood) black eye for the company. But Facebook has always been a bit skittish about how open it has wanted to be. Famously, it killed Power.com with an unfortunate reading of the CFAA when that company tried to create a universal login for various social media sites, and to help people not be locked in to just one social media site.

But the latest example is really horrible. Louis Barclay has a write up in Slate about how Facebook banned him for life and threatened him with a lawsuit, because he created a tool to make everyone's Facebook experience better (though, less profitable for Facebook). The tool actually sounds quite nifty:

The tool I created, a browser extension called Unfollow Everything, allowed users to delete their News Feed by unfollowing their friends, groups, and pages. The News Feed, as users of Facebook know, is that never-ending page that greets you when you log in. It’s the central hub of Facebook. It’s also a major source of revenue.

Note that the tool doesn't unfriend your friends, family and groups, it just unfollows them. To be honest, until reading about this, I didn't quite realize there was a difference. The key is that if you unfollow (but keep them as friends, or stay in the groups) you can still see what's happening, it's just that their content doesn't show up in your newsfeed. And if you "unfollow everything" then your newsfeed ends up blank. You can still poke around and see what your friends are posting or what's happening in the groups you're interested in, but it's a proactive decision by you, rather than being pushed to you in the news feed. That's... kinda neat.

I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was near-miraculous. I had lost nothing, since I could still see my favorite friends and groups by going to them directly. But I had gained a staggering amount of control. I was no longer tempted to scroll down an infinite feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically. Overnight, my Facebook addiction became manageable.

When I unfollowed everything for the first time, I did it manually. I spent hours using a Facebook-provided feature to click unfollow on each of my friends, groups, and pages. I quickly realized that very few people would go to the same trouble, so I coded a simple tool that would automate the process. In July 2020, I published it to the Chrome store, where people could download it for free.

As I said... kinda neat.

But, of course, Facebook didn't feel that way. It freaked out.

Then, a few months ago, Facebook sent me a cease-and-desist letter. The company demanded that I take down the tool. It also told me that it had permanently disabled my Facebook account—an account that I’d had for more than 15 years, and that was my primary way of staying in touch with family and friends around the world. Pointing to a provision in its terms of service that purports to bind even former users of Facebook, Facebook also demanded that I never again create a tool that interacts with Facebook or its many other services in any way.

That's fucked up on multiple levels. First off, Louis wasn't doing anything that users couldn't all do themselves. He was just automating it and making it easier. So how could that possibly violate anything? Furthermore, he was simply utilizing the features Facebook gives everyone. How could that possibly deserve this kind of reaction?

Yes, obviously, Facebook doesn't like the idea of people no longer using the news feed, but it seems likely that it's only a very small percentage of folks actually doing this kind of thing. Suck it up and deal with it. In the long run, it could actually be better if it helps people like Louis, who are concerned about how much they use Facebook, to keep using it rather than going away from Facebook (well, not Louis any more, since he's banned).

Second, it's always a bad look when you threaten and punish people who are simply trying to build on your service to make it better for some users. It reminds me when Craigslist sued a company for also making Craigslist better. No matter how you spin it, it's a bad look.

Third, giving him a lifetime ban? Come on. That's just being punitive for the sake of being punitive. It seems clear that Louis likes Facebook in general and the ability to connect with his friends and family -- he just didn't like the news feed. Giving him a lifetime ban just seems ridiculously excessive, and insanely petty. Yes, I know that Facebook is constantly on the lookout for scams and hacks that might impact site integrity, but this tool is not that.

Fourth, telling him that he can "never again create a tool that interacts with Facebook"? That's just beyond overkill. It's also unnecessarily punitive, and also seems like an incredibly broad reading of the company's terms of service.

In a more ideal world, we'd see companies like Facebook encouraging more app builders to create tools that make Facebook's experience better for everyone -- and allowing differentiated services like this. Some people would feel better off without the news feed. Louis was creating a tool to make it easier for people to do that so they don't have to do it manually. He didn't break any thing. He didn't harm the site's integrity. And Facebook flipped out.

As I was thinking about this story, I kept thinking about Block Party, a very cool app I've talked about in the past, which makes it easier for people on Twitter to deal with abuse and harassment, by having it automute certain types of users (there's a lot more to it). In that case, it seems like Twitter is happy to have Block Party create tools that make their users' lives better, even though it might lead to less interaction on Twitter itself. But the end result is, hopefully, a healthier experience. Facebook could do the same and could encourage developers to build better tools for users to create more differentiated experiences.

Instead, with its single-minded focus on revenue and growth, it punishes the guy who was simply making use of Facebook's own features to make lives better.

Oh, yeah, there's one more element to this story which also might explain Facebook's reaction -- not that it makes Facebook look any better. It makes it look worse.

A few months after I published Unfollow Everything, academics at the University of Neuchâtel, in Switzerland, expressed interest in using it to study the News Feed’s impact on the amount of time spent on Facebook and the happiness of the platform’s users. We began working together. The university recruited people to join two study groups: one where participants deleted their News Feeds using Unfollow Everything, and a control group where participants left their feeds intact. Participants agreed to share limited and anonymous information—specifically, the amount of time they spent on Facebook, the number of times they visited the site, and the number of friends, groups, and pages they were following and not following, both in total and broken down by category. (For regular Unfollow Everything users, the only Facebook-related data shared was the ratio of followed profiles to total profiles, a metric that helped me ensure the tool was working.)

Facebook has a really, really contentious relationship with academics trying to study the platform. You'll remember how it recently shut down the accounts of NYU researchers for building a tool to get access to useful data Facebook refuses to share. And, of course, the recent whistleblower revelations show that the company isn't always keen to see research that makes the company's products look bad get out into the world.

If the reason that Facebook freaked out about Unfollow Everything was the fact that it might allow academics to study the impact of the news feed, then that's even more messed up. Let them study your damn service, Facebook.

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Filed Under: browser extension, extensions, louis barclay, platforms, threats, unfollow everything
Companies: facebook, instagram


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  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 12:55pm

    "It’s the central hub of Facebook. It’s also a major source of revenue."

    Like it or not, this is the issue. No business is going to freely allow you to get its users to generate less revenue.

    "First off, Louis wasn't doing anything that users couldn't all do themselves. He was just automating it and making it easier"

    Auto trading software doesn't do anything on the stock market that users can't do themselves, it just makes it easier... There's multiple examples of why the impact of having that stuff running is fundamentally different than it was when manual trading was the only option.

    "In a more ideal world, we'd see companies like Facebook encouraging more app builders to create tools that make Facebook's experience better for everyone"

    True, but we're also talking about a company that decided to alter the news feed to promote what they wanted to promote out of chronological order, leading to many instances where users who would have been interested in certain local events don't find out about them until after they had taken place (in my experience anyway). As the cliche goes - FB users are not their customers, so their needs are less important than the people who actually pay them...

    "Fourth, telling him that he can "never again create a tool that interacts with Facebook"? That's just beyond overkill"

    Maybe, but I've been to bars where a guy who got kicked out the night before is allowed back in if he's sufficiently apologetic, and bars where someone who got kicked out 5 years ago isn't able to make it through the door. They have that right to choose which method they take.

    "Instead, with its single-minded focus on revenue and growth, it punishes the guy who was simply making use of Facebook's own features to make lives better."

    ...at the expense of their actual customers and thus their own bottom line... Nobody in Facebook's accounts department cares whether or not a person could curate their feed with less clicks.

    I'm certainly not going to defend Facebook's business model or their impact on society here, but it's definitely not a mystery as to why they took this option.

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    • icon
      nasch (profile), 13 Oct 2021 @ 9:17am

      Re:

      Auto trading software doesn't do anything on the stock market that users can't do themselves, it just makes it easier...

      Not true, manual traders can't react with the speed of automated systems. The automated systems can take advantage of market conditions that manual trading simply cannot, due to that speed advantage. There's no such difference with the Facebook tool. A better analogy would be a dishwasher vs hand washing. The effect is exactly the same, it's just easier and more convenient.

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

  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 1:04pm

    And if you make a tool to remove the fangs from a viper...

    the viper is sure to object.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    William Null, 12 Oct 2021 @ 1:07pm

    But the platforms have every right to do that, moderation discretion, freedom of association and all that. Isn't it right, Mr. Masnick?

    And now for the serious part: This is the logical conclusion of allowing too muvh moderation freedom. It's going to be abused just like copyright and patents are. Removing content by platforms should be illegal, outside of very few narrowly defined situations such as illegal content such as CSAM, copyrighted works, SPAM in the most narrow definition (unsolicited advertisements of products), etc. And account banning should not be allowed unless said account primarily posts content mentioned above.

    It's the only way to prevent abuse such as this.

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

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 1:13pm

      Re:

      Just because Facebook is within its rights to ban App Builders doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. Mike Masnick understands it. Why don't you?

      (on a side note, that rhymes!)

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        William Null, 12 Oct 2021 @ 1:17pm

        Re: Re:

        Did I say it wasn't wrong? My point is as long as the platforms can legally do any moderation outside of few narrowly defined cases in law, that sort of abuse will continue to happen as it is the logical conclusion of moderation freedom.

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

        • icon
          sumgai (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 9:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The fact that you consider an action to be abusive does not mean that it is an abuse. In fact, "content moderation", as you call it, is sanctified in the First Amendment. We can all thank Gawd that you are not in charge of the Internet!

          As to your first post, I've flagged it as Troll because you are obviously Koby using a different name. Nice try, but no go, pal. I'll flag this one too, once I've finished this response.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 1:20pm

      Re:

      "Removing content by platforms should be illegal, outside of very few narrowly defined situations such as illegal content such as CSAM, copyrighted works, SPAM in the most narrow definition (unsolicited advertisements of products), etc"

      Congratulations - unless you want to explicitly ban certain types of speech and thus have to rewrite the concept of free speech in the US, you're just made it so that Facebook cannot block Nazis.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        William Null, 12 Oct 2021 @ 1:22pm

        Re: Re:

        Then you just have to call out these people as Nazis and tell others in great detail why they are wrong.

        "The only solution to bad speech is more speech" - Mike Masnick

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 1:33pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          We tried that, then Trump got into office.

          If you have a restaurant where a table is doing "Sieg Heil" and causing all your black and Jewish customers to run out the door, the correct form of action is not to explain to everyone why you don't personally agree with the tenets of National Socialism. You kick the fucking Nazis out the door before they start real violence.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2021 @ 11:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Then you just have to call out these people as Nazis and tell others in great detail why they are wrong.

          I see...this is why I think these arguments against moderation are a ginormous pile of poorly thought out horse shit. There's a feeling among the assholes who promote this that the rest of us are as fucking stupid as they are.

          Content must remain up because 'muh freedum uv speech!"

          But if you explain why it's wrong, you're 'fact checking' which also is a problem with the same fucking people, who are of the opinion that in addition to their opinions, they're also entitled to their own facts.

          You're making an assumption that Facebook is making all of the decisions regarding content. But it's impossible for them to look at everything, isn't it? So you have to assume that there's a sizable number of users who are bringing the content to their attention because they might hate Nazis, or assholes still waiting for some kind of 'reinstatement,' or better yet, the anti-vax morons who can't drop dead fast enough from a preventable virus.

          It's not just Facebook that doesn't like these people, is what I'm trying to say. A good part of the rest of us feel we'd be better off without them too.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 14 Oct 2021 @ 5:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Then you just have to call out these people as Nazis and tell others in great detail why they are wrong."

          Germany 1932 stands out as a great example as to why the only viable solution is to never allow the intolerant a forum in the normalized space.

          I'd advise you to read up on the Paradox of Tolerance. The only opinion a tolerant society must not allow is intolerance, because that's the one thing which will end that society.

          You can not cure nazism with "more speech". All you've done is provide a platform to any charismatic grifter whose solution to every ill is to pin the blame on the other, and solidify the idea that bigotry is OK.

          The idea that a respectful society must invite those who will never extend respect in turn is a fallacy - one the nazis and Klansmen keep trying to bring to the table in the "both sides" debate when the reality is that they aren't willing to abide by the most fundamental core rule of said society.

          You don't drink poison voluntarily and society doesn't try to debate those whose core position is to dismantle society.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 1:52pm

      Re:

      But the platforms have every right to do that, moderation discretion, freedom of association and all that. Isn't it right, Mr. Masnick?

      Of course they have every right to. Just as I have every right to criticize them for that decision.

      And now for the serious part: This is the logical conclusion of allowing too muvh moderation freedom.

      No, it's not. Don't be foolish.

      Removing content by platforms should be illegal

      That's ridiculous and shows a total lack of understanding of anything.

      very few narrowly defined situations such as illegal content such as CSAM, copyrighted works, SPAM in the most narrow definition (unsolicited advertisements of products), etc

      So a website for kids must allow hate speech and nazis? Yeah, sure, that'll make sense.

      Your "solution" is to make sure that the internet is garbage and no one can ever curate a better more focused kind of community. There are knitting communities that say "no politics" but under your idiotic idea that would no longer be allowed.

      This shows a stunning ignorance of reality. Educate yourself.

      It's the only way to prevent abuse such as this.

      No. It's not.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2021 @ 3:51pm

        Re: Re:

        But the platforms have every right to do that, moderation discretion, freedom of association and all that. Isn't it right, Mr. Masnick?
        Of course they have every right to. Just as I have every right to criticize them for that decision.

        Of course Facebook can ban people from Facebook. It's much less obvious whether they can ban those people from ever creating Facebook-related software. We won't know that till a court case is filed and resolved (other than via settlement)—though it would be much more practical to hand off the software to someone who never had a Facebook account, and is therefore not bound by that term.

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

      • icon
        generateusername (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 3:58pm

        Re: Re:

        And now for the serious part: This is the logical conclusion of allowing too muvh moderation freedom.

        No, it's not. Don't be foolish.

        Of course, freedom includes the freedom to make bad decisions. I do wonder, though, whether platforms can be guided to make better decisions. Maybe if we start thinking of them more as communities as opposed to businesses? I'm starting to think that maybe a service like Facebook is simply not suited to be a private for-profit business.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2021 @ 5:46pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Maybe if we start thinking of them more as communities as opposed to businesses

          Because everybody loves the home owner's association.

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

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 14 Oct 2021 @ 5:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Because everybody loves the home owner's association."

            Yeah. Association work is drudgery so it always ends up with the tinpot dictator eager to sanction their neighbor for not trimming the hedges properly or allowing their dog to bark.

            Same applies to voluntary moderators. Eventually it ends up in the hands of That Guy who gets a rush of guiding the forum their own way with some healthy whipping by the banhammer.

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

        • icon
          sumgai (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 9:21pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          A community is a company without a vision of profits, nor even a revenue steam. Lump too many communities into one place (a platform), and you'll get a repeat of Canter and Siegel, the two lawyers who spammed nearly 6,000 usenet groups in 1994. (The accepted first instance of spam.) And that was for a commercial concern, which in turn translates to advertising... as in, for money. I'm sure you can see the connection between them and Facebook, yes?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2021 @ 1:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          A million and one competing interests trying to guide platforms to make "better" (in their opinion) decisions is just making everything worse.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 14 Oct 2021 @ 5:36am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I'm starting to think that maybe a service like Facebook is simply not suited to be a private for-profit business."

          sniff, sniff...is that socialism i smell in the air? a rejection of the private market bringing the cure for all ills? Surely not. /s

          Most of europe noted a long time ago that certain aspects of society do not benefit from market forces at all simply because the logical conclusion to the word "profit" is "monopoly and fuck the customer" rather than "the customer is king".

          Social platforms, mind, do make it harder to apply the solutions applied in core infrastructure, basic education and social services, mainly because a government-run platform couldn't moderate at all without de facto violating one or more free speech-articles in their national charters.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2021 @ 3:37pm

      Re:

      "Removing content by platforms should be illegal..."

      Why do you hate the First Amendment?

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        William Null, 12 Oct 2021 @ 5:38pm

        Re: Re:

        First amendment should not apply to businesses, only individuals. Personal freedom > corporate freedom

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

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 5:41pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          First amendment should not apply to businesses, only individuals. Personal freedom > corporate freedom

          So, the NY Times/Fox News/CNN/Washington Post/Pro Publica/USA Today... all of those should have no 1st Amendment protections?

          Really?

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

          • icon
            generateusername (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 6:49pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You know, there are people who think that corporate personhood shouldn't be a thing. Not saying that I'm one of them, but I spent my student years during a time when "The Corporation" - both the book and the documentary - were popular.

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

            • icon
              Mike Masnick (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 10:32pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You know, there are people who think that corporate personhood shouldn't be a thing

              I do know that. And I think people who hold that view tend to be fairly ignorant of what that would mean in practice.

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

              • icon
                morganwick (profile), 13 Oct 2021 @ 7:55am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                For one thing, they tend to hold up Citizens United as the problem with corporate personhood, when not only did that case not actually have anything to do with corporate personhood, taking it seriously might lead to less dumb Supreme Court decisions: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2014/03/corporations-are-people-and-thats-why-hobby-lobby-should -lose-at-the-supreme-court

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2021 @ 1:33pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Can you explain that? Because a corporation is a construct. Why should they get the rights that only flesh and blood people are supposed to have? I doubt the founders had corporations mind when they wrote of the right of association. They hated and despised corporations. The American Revolution was fought as much against the East India Tea Company as it was against Britain. Not directly, per se, but the colonies wanted to be free of corporate influence as well as Britain's. Sad now that constructs are given more rights than flesh and blood people.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2021 @ 1:42pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "Can you explain that? Because a corporation is a construct. Why should they get the rights that only flesh and blood people are supposed to have?"

                  Money is a construct and can also be speech. Can YOU explain that?

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2021 @ 7:44am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  If you do not have corporations, how do you have government and churches? Both are amongst the oldest corporations, and allow property to be held by a corporation for the benefit of generations to come.

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Oct 2021 @ 1:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "...there are people who think that corporate personhood shouldn't be a thing."

              Most of whom do not have a clue as to why corporate personhood became a thing in the first place or the ramifications of removing it.

              I mean, sure, we could remove corporate personhood but that would mean that companies would cease to exist as we know it - because no one would ever be dumb enough to employ more people than s/he could conveniently monitor when there will always be one single individual who stands as owner and point of legal accountability for everything tens of thousands of employees might do. Not to mention the horrifying implications around taxation, or how it would suddenly be impossible to register a company on the stock market, etc.

              In other words, say fare-thee-well to every US company bigger than the local mom'n'pop brick and mortar store. And to the national economy. Corporate personhood is just a necessity in a free marketplace. We could argue on whether the free market is truly a necessity but historical evidence suggests it's still the least bad option of generating prosperity by handling and distributing wealth.

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

              • icon
                nasch (profile), 15 Oct 2021 @ 8:46am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                no one would ever be dumb enough to employ more people than s/he could conveniently monitor when there will always be one single individual who stands as owner and point of legal accountability for everything tens of thousands of employees might do.

                There's a difference between corporate personhood and liability limitation.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2021 @ 5:51pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You didn't answer the question. Let's try again.

          Why...do...you..hate the First Amendment?

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

        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 8:04pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          ... Says nobody who understands the First Amendment.

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

          • icon
            sumgai (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 9:24pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Toom, were you perhaps a master of Zen in previous life? You sure get to the heart of the matter in the shortest way possible. ;)

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

            • icon
              Toom1275 (profile), 13 Oct 2021 @ 11:16am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Brevity is the soul of wit.

              If I can contribute more of value to the conversation by stating the obvious than the troll ever could in their entire career, then why not take that opportunity?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2021 @ 11:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm fine with testing that out in practice. Let's start with forcing Hobby Lobby to offer contraception, including abortion services in its employees' insurance portfolio.

          Because I'm betting the same people advocating for a loss of 1A protections for Facebook would shit their diapers when one of their 'christian' companies gets told that they can't hide behind their religious horseshit anymore.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2021 @ 1:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It's easy to spew hate and generalization onto a group you disagree with. But let's see if you actually have the mental acuity to realize that such groups are not monolithic entities, that everyone is different, and that assuming everyone of a particular belief system is the same way is wrong. As is assuming said belief system is anything like what you think it is. Most critics like you never do any in-depth research because it's just easier to fire off smart remarks, assume, and generalize than actually admit you might not know everything about it. But I doubt you'd like it if someone treated your beliefs the same way you treat those of others. Hypocrite.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2021 @ 1:51pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It's also easy to criticize when you are avoiding answering simple questions because you don't like what the answer would say about you, eh?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2021 @ 6:10am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Listen cupcake, you feel free to justify believing in an imaginary person however you want. I will continue to make fun of you, and you're certainly free to criticize my 'lack of belief' all you'd like. Although I'd like to point out that justifying a lack of belief is a helluva lot easier than having to prove that a sky thing person exists.

              That there's varying degrees of stupidity for religious nutjobs changes nothing - it's the same ridiculous foundation.

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Oct 2021 @ 1:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "But let's see if you actually have the mental acuity to realize that such groups are not monolithic entities..."

              You mean like the nazis and the Klan, both of whom stand out as having a great many examples of members not conforming to the stereotype? Would such individual exceptions be a good reason not to treat such groups the way they are, in reality, treated?

              I don't think so. If your "group" as a whole has a certain impact and image in society then that determines how every member of that group will be treated - because as long as you stand up to be counted among it no one will care about whether your beliefs are marginally different than those of the rest of that group.

              "Most critics like you never do any in-depth research because it's just easier to fire off smart remarks..."

              And those of us who do usually end up with far more condemning argumentation than mere "smart remarks". Religion stands out as being the most common cause for atrocity throughout all of human history - and the only one to ever gain traction in justifying atrocities.

              "But I doubt you'd like it if someone treated your beliefs the same way you treat those of others. Hypocrite."

              Speaking of not doing your research, eh? The non-religious part of the world, subscribing to facts from empirical observation tend to welcome doubt - because trying to overturn a current hypothesis with fact is what science is all about.

              Meanwhile you eagerly condemn as evil anyone who dares to doubt the fairy-tale you subscribe to based entirely on nothing but faith.

              No, the only hypocrisy here is the religious argument which ascribes to belief and local morals the same validity as observation of facts.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 13 Oct 2021 @ 5:59am

      Re:

      "But the platforms have every right to do that, moderation discretion, freedom of association and all that. Isn't it right, Mr. Masnick?"

      You still don't see the difference between forbidden in law and morally reprehensible, eh, Baghdad Bob?
      Facebook is within their rights to do whatever they like to their platform. Their house, their rules.
      Still won't change the fact that if their rules are shit, their clientele will walk.

      "This is the logical conclusion of allowing too muvh moderation freedom. It's going to be abused just like copyright and patents are."

      Bullshit.

      Copyright and patents tell you someone else gets to tell you what you can and cannot do with your own property.

      Moderation is what you do with your own property.

      "Removing content by platforms should be illegal..."

      Ah, the olde marxist philosophy of seizing the mean of production when a compelling reason presents itself. I'd call it ironic that the alt-right is so heavily into strict communist orthodoxy if it hadn't been abundantly clear how close you people come to outright national socialist ideology.

      "It's the only way to prevent abuse such as this."

      There's no abuse here. It's just the equivalent of a bar owner being a douche about the rules they set for attendance. The risk they're taking being that they receive fewer patrons.

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

  • icon
    Kent (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 1:17pm

    <sarcasm> Well, I don't see how else Facebook could respond to a person who has so little regard for their business model. Imagine, creating a tool that puts the well-being of Facebook users above the interests of Facebook shareholders. Mr. Barclay clearly left Facebook with no choice but to banish and threaten him with legal action. </sarcasm>

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

  • identicon
    SpaceLifeForm, 12 Oct 2021 @ 2:10pm

    Whack-a-mole

    Louis Barclay should make Unfollow Everything open source.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Koby (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 2:28pm

    It's No Wonder

    Facebook has a really, really contentious relationship with academics trying to study the platform.

    Social media: the tobacco products of the internet.

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

  • icon
    Chris ODonnell (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 2:32pm

    I unfollowed everybody except my wife and kids on FB several years ago. The improvement in my FB experience was magical and instantaneous. I started following people again during the COVID lockdown, but I doubt I follow 50 of my 225 FB friends.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2021 @ 3:08pm

      Re:

      I've just started a FB sabattical, after I had started to unfollow by hand all the people in my feed. It was slow going, esp since I just did a 'snooze for 30 days' at first.

      But deleting the app from my phone has been the biggest help, it keeps me from doom scrolling on the silly stories I got semi-addicted to from factinate or one of those other silly top-ten-things pages/ad flingers. I was too weak on my own. LOL!

      But seriously, making this script open so I could do it myself would be awesome.

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

  • identicon
    Bobvious, 12 Oct 2021 @ 2:36pm

    Banned for LIFE!!

    For making the Unfollow Everything extension?

    He should have made something safer like the UnCertify The Election extension. I've heard it's a riot.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2021 @ 3:39pm

    Some would say that getting banned from Facebook would make their lives better.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2021 @ 3:49pm

      Re:

      +1. Mr. Barclay may not realize it yet, but Facebook was doing him a favor. I know my life is better without Facebook in it. I have no need to pay to my phone all the time now that I quit using FB and it feels great without all that distraction. maybe it will be same with him.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2021 @ 3:45pm

    I understand that building a new decentralized form of social media from scratch is a time-consuming effort. But while BlueSky is happening, Twitter is experimenting with features all its own. The company has been experimenting with downvotes for a bit now, but a new round of testing and a new bunch of people getting the feature for testing has brought it to the fore once again. If the feature does go out to the public as a finished thing, it’s gonna be rife with abuse. This, combined with people being antsy about Twitter potentially banning porn in the future, thanks in part to the OnlyFans debacle a little bit back and Twitter experimenting with more monetization methods, could present issues for marginalized groups such as BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people, alongside sex workers and NSFW artists, many of which are also BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+.

    Where I’m going with this: Bots rapidly downvoting Tweets from accounts to make it difficult for people to have their voices heard and Twitter banning porn could both happen well before Twitter’s BlueSky is ready. Twitter is funding the long-term R&D of a decentralized standard but Twitter might, in the short term, wind up screwing over and banning and deleting the accounts of people who would be able to make the most use of that standard. I’d love to see a discussion about that.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 12 Oct 2021 @ 4:31pm

    Huh?

    "Facebook Banning & Threatening People For Making Facebook Better Is Everything That's Wrong With Facebook"

    Um, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Let's start with the massive waste of time it is and go from there.

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

  • icon
    sumgai (profile), 12 Oct 2021 @ 9:44pm

    One of the problems with websites that I've never had satisfactorily explained to me is why do they think they are in control of my browsing experience. My usual response to that is "No, I am in charge of what appears on my computer monitor. I paid for my equipment, my connection to the internet, and whatever else that might be necessary, so until you take over those payments, then you can fuck right off with that crap."

    If they (the corps/websites) can get a law passed that says otherwise, then I'll happily go back to using Lynx and Pine for my internet experience. That'll get their knickers in a first-class twist, I'm sure.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 13 Oct 2021 @ 9:28am

      Re:

      One of the problems with websites that I've never had satisfactorily explained to me is why do they think they are in control of my browsing experience.

      They aren't, but they are in charge of what they want to serve to your browser if you request a page from them. If you want to go to some other site they aren't going to stop you.

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

      • icon
        sumgai (profile), 13 Oct 2021 @ 8:10pm

        Re: Re:

        The word "want" is key to the discussion. In this case, I have the tools to re-arrange the incoming code (and not limited to just HTML), so I can "edit" the incoming page on the fly. Where a server/page owner travels into John Deere country (in their recurring role Copyright-Asshole-Extraordinaire), I somewhat rudely disengage with that server/page owner... and likely will not return any time soon.

        Last time I checked (this morning), no one has any kind of right to take over my equipment and force me to see what they want me to see. If all else fails (by that I mean that my toolset isn't up to snuff), there's always the Big Power Switch - works every time, I swear.

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


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