Facebook we have a problem

Leo Laporte is now claiming that Facebook is deleting and banning a radio station’s Facebook identity to allegedly remove comments about Facebook’s privacy stance.

This worries me a LOT more than whether or not you’ve taken private details like our social graph and forced them to be public.

This is about a loss of trust and goes WAY deeper than privacy.

I can’t trust that you care about my content or my business.

We have a problem.

When will you come and talk to us about this problem we are all having with you?

And I get a new email from someone who has gotten removed from Facebook every week like this one. I’m tired of this, when will you build a system to handle these kinds of complaints and handle them fairly?

All of these items remove our trust in your service. What are you going to do to regain our trust?

UPDATE: Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP of Global Communications, has answered the Facebook deletion problems in the comments below. He answered “Robert, I really wish you — or Louis, for that matter — would reach out to us directly for comment before simply repeating someone’s allegation. I don’t know the situation with KNOI and have asked our teams to investigate the reason the Page was disabled. I can state categorically, though, that our policies would NEVER permit us to take down a page because of it criticizes us.
You of all people should know — and have reported — that people who use Facebook regularly create groups and Pages to criticize actions we’ve taken or to call for changes to our service. A Facebook search this morning of the words “Stop Facebook” reveals over 400 Pages that may involve such protest – all of which are up and active on the site.
I think it’s irresponsible to repeat an allegation that we begun to censor content — and that we’ve started by targeting the Fan Page of a radio station in Texas.”

UPDATE #2: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has written me an email where he says he was waiting to talk about the privacy issues it has been having until they have fixes ready to demo and that he’ll be talking with journalists this week about the issues.

UPDATE #3: Facebook’s public statement on KNOI account deletion ( @leolaporte was talking about that on Google Buzz earlier today). This statement was sent to me by Andrew Noyes | Manager, Public Policy Communications, Facebook:

The pages for KNOI and KRBR were disabled because one of our automated systems for detecting abuse identified improper actions on the account of the individual who also serves as the sole administrator of the Pages. The automated system is designed to keep spammers and potential harassers from abusing Facebook and is triggered when a user sends too many messages or seeks to friend too many people who ignore their requests. In this case, the user sent a large number of friend requests that were rejected. As a result, his account was disabled, and in consequence, the Pages for which he is the sole administrator were also disabled. The suggestion that our automated system has been programmed to censor those who criticize us is absurd.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

70 thoughts on “Facebook we have a problem

  1. Robert, Is there any update on this? You mentioned that you were scheduled to visit the Facebook playground earlier this week. I just want to know if there is any further response from the children.

    Like everyone else, my account was unceremoniously deactivated. The kids claim it was deactivated due to the fact that I dared to dispute an overcharge for ads with Visa. (I only activated the dispute to get someone to contact me to resolve it. I even tried to get Visa to connect me with Customer Service at FB, but even they can't get a live person.) I'm pretty sure my account was deactivated, and I am now being ignored due to negative comments I've made about FB on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as on FB itself. The arrogance is unbelievable.

    I've tried all week to rectify this problem through the circular, robotic, and ineffective online system that is the only way to communicate with Facebook, only to be ignored. I wish I could walk away from the FB playpen, but as a social media consultant, I need access to help my clients.

    Facebook is either ignorant about best practice in customer service, or arrogant. Which do you think? IMHO, arrogance and hypocrisy reign at FB.

  2. I've got an idea here that maybe Robert can help by suggesting to Zuckerberg and/or Mr. Elliot Schrage. Google recently created a tool to provide transparency on the government requests they get to remove content or provide information about users, etc (http://www.google.com/governmentrequests/). Facebook should create a similar link for transparency on their automated account deletion activities. If, as Mr. Schrage suggests, the KNOI account deletion occurred due to an automated BOT, it should be a simple matter to put up a super simple web page to see all of the accounts automatically deleted and the reasons why. Questions like this would often not even be raised if this transparency existed.

  3. It's ok that you signed up for that and don't mind the sneaky policy changes. But it's not ok for millions of people who don't even understand what's happened yet because of how FB has obfuscated the changes.

    FB even made it sound like the changes enhanced people's privacy. Perhaps you don't even know how complicated opting out got because you personally don't care about the privacy?

  4. fundamental difference between a human being crossing a line and spam-bots. The latter will not ask to be reinstated.

    The PR opportunity here is for Facebook to communicate with abusers (the humans) in near real time. I'm not saying they should not block accounts (I'll leave that to them), but they are missing out when they let legitimate business flail while waiting for a decision.

    I've had several notes over the past two years that say “please help me find out what I did wrong..” Just like when some tried buying a CD-ROM with 5 million email address or “build your list on auto pilot” programs.. I hold that most are naive.

    Yes, they have to suffer a shut down in some cases.. Facebook is within their rights to do whatever they think necessary. However, the bad PR here is from stories of policy winning out over humans… just not kosher in the Facebook age.

    Scoble had his account back in hours. That's about the time an unknown small business should wait.

  5. How many Facebook employees are active in this thread, apart from the head of PR?

    I think that sums up the problem.

  6. > Even your famed deletion was technically a violation.

    Yes and no: Scoble was playing with the lines, and he knew it. There were reasonable arguments to oppose (that I disagreed with but would consider), and no one would do what he did unless he was a hacker expecting some ban or someone who got his account hacked — both cases justifying automatically closing the account first, asking question post mortem.

  7. Blogs are not the press in that matter in particular (well: good, personal tech blogs); most readers know the blogs are wrote fast, read by the people in business and they expect more to come from the comments, and on the TechMeme associated links, updates, etc. They do not expect, like the press has sadly got accustomed to, have a “We have contacted […] about this and haven't heard from them yet.” Because of that, readers know what “Suchand Such said that” exactly means that. This allows people to witness how those issues are adressed in real time.

    On the other hand, you seemed quicker to have Scoble (who's been defending Facebook for a month now, increasingly alone) abide by sad PR rules rather than resolve the actual issue.

    And I'll have to agree with DigitalVision: if Leo Laporte doesn't get what's happening, you have a problem much bigger than being accused on a tech blog, or on Buzz.

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