- Facebook Doesn’t Want You To Know Who Unfriends You! Do You?
- What’s New And Changed In Social Fixer 8.0
- Facebook Compromises: Social Fixer Can Keep Feed Filtering
- Facebook Requires Social Fixer Browser Extension To Remove Key Features
- Social Fixer Page Removed: Follow-up And Responses To Questions And Comments
Category Archives: Featured
Facebook thinks that being unfriended is a "negative experience" for users, and they only want to allow positive experiences (ex: no "dislike" button). It's fine that they don't offer this feature, but I don’t think it’s right of them to shut down every 3rd party app that does, nor do I think it’s in their own best interest.
Why Does Anyone Need To Know Who Unfriends Them?
- Sometimes it’s an accident, and they want to ask the person if they meant to unfriend them
- Sometimes Facebook has glitches, and people get unfriended unintentionally
- Sometimes friends are struggling with life, and them deactivating their account may be a sign that they need help
- Sometimes people play online games and they keep friends as part of their game groups, so like to know if someone has left their group by unfriending them
- Sometimes people just like to know why Friend X is no longer appearing in their news feed!
None of these reasons seems particularly bad or negative, do they? It seems unreasonable for Facebook to assume it knows better than users what they want. Especially when this functionality is only available to people who specifically seek it out and install an app to inform them. It’s not like random users would be shocked and surprised to suddenly find out that someone unfriended them.
Facebook Shuts Down Unfriending Apps
Facebook has a history of trying to shut down any application that offers users the ability to know who unfriends them. For example, http://unfriendfinder.net/ was a popular tool that had to shut down. And recently, they told me that Social Fixer could no longer offer this feature. For now, the site at http://who.deleted.me still works, but trying to share it on Facebook fails because they’ve marked it as malicious.
What grounds do they have to demand that these apps shut down? It’s not a legal matter – offering these features is not breaking any kind of law. Instead, they say that developers are breaking their Terms of Service. Specifically, section 1.3 of the Platform Policy, which states:
“You must not circumvent (or claim to circumvent) our intended limitations on core Facebook features and functionality.”
Since Facebook specifically doesn’t offer this feature, neither can anyone else. If you break their ToS, then you may not get a lawsuit, but you might get:
- Your personal account removed from Facebook
- Your permission to access Facebook at all revoked
- Any Page, Group, etc that you’ve setup to promote your app may be removed
- Your web site may be marked as malicious, so anyone trying to post a link to your tool will not be able to do so on Facebook
So, while we may not be doing anything illegal, we may effectively be shut out from Facebook, the very site we are trying to improve. And we won’t be able to spread the word about our app on Facebook, the very place it is intended to be used. For most developers (myself included) it’s just not worth it. Facebook “wins” and gets to dictate what users get to see and know. I don’t personally want to risk giving up all access to Facebook just to retain a useful feature. That would kind of defeat the purpose.
Facebook Principle: Give Users Choice And Control?
One of Facebook’s supposed Principles in the Platform Policy is to “Create a great user experience” and to “Give users choice and control”.
I believe that if Facebook genuinely wants to give users choice and control, and give them a great user experience, they should allow developers to create tools that extend and enhance that experience. They should not try to shut down apps and tools that give users the information that they want and find valuable. Especially when it comes to information like who has unfriended you – something that you can already figure out on your own but with a lot of extra effort.
Facebook should embrace the developer community and support its desire to improve and extend the functionality they offer. That would be truly giving users choice and control, and help make the world more open and connected.
Voice Your Opinion!
Facebook is notoriously difficult (if not impossible) to contact, but if you agree here’s what you can do:
- and this post
- Post this to places like Reddit, Slashdot, or wherever else people might be interested
- Find an appropriate email address for Facebook to contact and let them know you disagree with how they handle this. (So far, I haven’t found one)
Who knows, maybe a little attention to this issue may cause Facebook to reconsider its stance.
If you’re curious, here is the history of my dealings with Facebook about Social Fixer offering its Friend Tracker functionality (and more):
- Facebook Removes Social Fixer Page Without Warning
- Beware: Your Business Is At The Mercy Of Facebook! Social Fixer Page Deleted Without Explanation…
- Social Fixer Page Removed: Follow-up And Responses To Questions And Comments
- Facebook Requires Social Fixer Browser Extension To Remove Key Features
- Facebook Compromises: Social Fixer Can Keep Feed Filtering
On a personal note, I’ve actually received many private Messages and public comments from users who are very angry about this, and taking it out on me. I’ve been called every name in the book, and been repeatedly personally insulted. Clearly, people really feel strongly about this. But I hope that frustration would be directed at Facebook, and not at me. Posts like this are my attempt to continue being a User Advocate, and to at least give a voice for our opinions.
I’ve written about how Facebook removed my Page, then how they requested I remove key features from Social Fixer. But I kept pleading my case on behalf of the users, and I’m happy to report that we’ve reached a compromise.
The post tabbing and filtering functionality can stay in Social Fixer. This was the critical feature that allowed so many users to control their feed and enjoy using Facebook more. I argued this in emails and phone calls to Facebook, and they finally agreed to defer that discussion to later. For the foreseeable future, those features can stay. As a compromise, I agreed to remove the Friend Tracker and any specific features which filter out ads or paid posts.
For years, I avoided putting any kind of ad-blocking functionality into Social Fixer, because I didn’t want to be seen as a tool that negatively affects their revenue. I eventually added a few features, specifically ones to filter out ads in the news feed itself. But I will remove those features now. If you want to filter out advertising, the best way is still by using AdBlock Plus, another free browser extension. And for now, the app at http://who.deleted.me will work as a “Friend Tracker” – at least until Facebook shuts it down again.
I will be making the code modifications soon and pushing out an update release. Thank you for your patience as I work through this, and your support in the form of comments, shares, blog posts, tweets, etc. I have to think that those things are part of what influenced Facebook’s decision. That’s awesome.
Update Oct 15: Slashdot did a video interview of me before Facebook agreed to this compromise, but if you want to hear me talk about my thoughts on what’s been going on and verify that I am a real person with a real voice, check it out.
Questions? Comments? Comment on this post on Facebook to join the discussion!
Can I Keep The Old Version?
If you really want to keep Friend Tracker, you can not update Social Fixer. But I don’t recommend this, because I constantly update it to adjust for Facebook’s code changes. You would miss out on that, and eventually Social Fixer would not work well.
Why Did You Decide To Compromise?!
I believe in compromise and respect. My application is a tool that works on top of their great site, and it’s in my best interest to maintain a good working relationship with them. I can understand their desire not to have ad blocking, at least, and that is something that users can still accomplish with other tools. I saw the feed filtering and tabbing as key features that I needed to fight for, but the Friend Tracker was something I didn’t see as that critical. If I can cater to some of their needs, and they can compromise with me, and I can get my Page back up, then I think that is a positive way to move forward.
When Will The New Version Be Out?
Hopefully in the next week. (Before Oct 18).
Will You Fix Other Bugs Too?
Yes! I’ll include some fixes for common problems users are having now, like some posts not appearing in Groups, for example. As always, check the release notes for a quick summary of what is changed.
Why Does Facebook Have An Issue With Friend Tracker?
I don't know, really. I guess for the same reason they will never add a Dislike button. They only want positive interaction, and seeing someone unfriend you is a negative thing. They have consistently fought every single app that informs you when someone unfriends you, as far as I know (like Unfriend Finder). For whatever reason, they just don't want you to know that information. It might make you sad to know you lost a friend. Or something.
This Isn’t Worth It Just To Keep Your Facebook Page!
If you think that's all that this is about, you haven't read all the details, but here are some of the things I am considering:
- I do want my Page back. I need an "audience" to expand this app and open new doors for me. Part of why Facebook didn't just blindly shut me down was (I think) because I am able to reach hundreds of thousands of passionate users pretty quickly. Having a wide audience means more stability, and less chance that Facebook will mess with Social Fixer. And I also like being able to reach users in an official way.
- Having the Page makes it easier to share blog posts about topics and/or release notes about new versions, and this makes it much easier for people to SHARE those posts, expanding my audience even wider.
- I do not want to have Facebook mark SocialFixer.com as spam, causing any link to it on their site to not render, and warn the user. This would kill the trust of new users. This would be very bad.
- I do not want to lose my personal account. I use Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends and to learn. I also use it to work on Social Fixer. If I tell Facebook that I will not cooperate with them, they could shut down my personal account. I don't want that.
- Of course, there are subtle legal threats in the background. I don't want a legal case, in any form. That's scary. I have a wife and family to protect as my first priority.
You Should Allow “Plugins” To Social Fixer To Extend The Functionality
That would be great, and it continues to be something I consider. I've actually done this before! It worked, and was cool. Unfortunately, it got rejected by every site that hosts extensions. When they do security and privacy checks, they ensure that no additional code can be executed than what is in the extension now. This concept would break that rule. So I would no longer be able to host Social Fixer on the major sites, thereby reducing my credibility, raising security and privacy concerns in users, etc. Right now, it's not worth it. Yet.
You Should Open Source The Code!
This is much more complicated than it seems, and I've addressed it a number of times. The short summary is this - open sourcing it may introduce security and privacy concerns, and in the end it still needs to be distributed from a single source (me), which doesn't help me avoid any liability, even if I didn't write all the code. Open Source is not always the answer, nor is it a simple one in this case. Trust me.
Hope that helps!
-- Matt Kruse, Developer of Social Fixer
Several weeks ago, the Social Fixer Page was removed from Facebook without warning (see my blog post). Since then, I’ve talked Facebook’s Policy Management Team about the situation and what it would take to get it back, and it’s not what I wanted to hear. Here are the details.
First of all, I feel very fortunate to have been on contact with real people at Facebook who have treated me with respect and given me more personal time than I expected (on the phone, twice, not just in email). They were friendly and I enjoyed talking with them. Most people with problems like this never get that kind of contact.
Facebook Demands Removal Of Key Social Fixer Features
So I’ll cut to the chase, and summarize the things you want to know. Then I’ll give a few more details:
- The initial report of the Page violating Facebook’s terms came from an individual user manually reporting it. It was not for spam, as was reported to me. Their back-end systems have a limited number of buckets that reports can be categorized into, so “spam” was used. They are working on improving this.
- The Policy Management Team became aware of my blog post about this from a reference by someone internal to Facebook. I assume this bubbled up to someone’s attention because of all the users who contacted them, shared the link, etc. So thank you for that. It seemed to have worked!
- They said the Page existed to promote something that they feel is in violation of their Terms of Service, specifically Section 3.11 of the Rights and Responsibilities:
”You will not do anything that could disable, overburden, or impair the proper working or appearance of Facebook, such as a denial of service attack or interference with page rendering or other Facebook functionality.”
I disagree that this applies to Social Fixer.
- They also said it violates section 1.3 of the Platform Policies:
“You must not circumvent (or claim to circumvent) our intended limitations on core Facebook features and functionality.”
However, since I don’t use their API or developer platform, I do not feel that these apply to me.
- In order to comply with their terms and get the Page re-published, I must remove the following functionality from Social Fixer:
- Friend Tracker
- News Feed Tabs
- News Feed Filters
- Blocking of ads, sponsored stories, etc.
- Once I have done so, the Page can be re-published with all the original content and fans.
Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm
Facebook has a complex algorithm that determines what you see in your news feed, and they want you to see it exactly as they give it to you. They believe that it puts the best stories in users’ news feed. In my personal experience, I find their algorithm to consistently deliver results that are different than what I want, making the site much less usable to me. That’s why I built powerful feed filtering and tabbing functionality into Social Fixer – so users could get back some control of their news feed and view it in a way that is more useful to them.
According to them, anything that moves posts to tabs or hides them based on rules interferes with their ability to track interaction with the feed and deliver “quality results” to the user. In my opinion, this really means that they are less able to control what you see, insert advertising, and manipulate the feed to justify charging for “promoted” posts. The news feed control that Social Fixer enables makes it more usable for users, but marginally less profitable for them.
I talked to them about this, and explained the reasons why I and others value these features so much. Whether it be tabbing game posts, or filtering “Breaking Bad” spoilers to a tab, or hiding all posts with the word “cosplay”, Social Fixer’s feed filters are powerful and extremely helpful. They seemed to acknowledge the usefulness of these features, but still said they cannot be offered.
What If I Don’t Make The Requested Changes?
Of course I asked what would happen if I chose not to make the changes they are requesting. I was told that the case would be sent over the the legal department, where they handle cease and desist letters, etc. And of course, the Social Fixer Page would not be restored, limiting my ability to communicate with users and spread information.
If it just meant losing the Page forever, I would choose to let it stay unpublished and continue to offer users the features they love so much. But here are my concerns:
- Any threat of legal action is a big deal. I am a one-man operation. If I were sued for whatever reason, I would find it very difficult to defend myself, even if it was without merit. I would be risking my personal life to maintain a tabbed news feed for users. As much as I’d like to be your Robin Hood, I just can’t do that to my family.
- Even if no legal action comes as a result, they may still take action against my personal account. They could ban me from Facebook because they feel I violate their Terms, making it harder to keep in touch with family and friends.
- Even if they left my personal account alone, they could still mark socialfixer.com as being a risky and/or spammy site, like they have done for http://FBPurity.com. No one would be able to link to my site on Facebook, share blog posts like this, etc. That would really reduce my ability to spread the app to new users and would discredit the site.
The Problem With Extensions
Facebook explained to me some of their concerns about browser extensions:
- Not all extension authors have good intentions. Some may steal user data, insert malware, etc. They need to watch out for the “bad guys”, and so are very cautious about what extensions do and how.
- When extensions are installed on shared computers, other users may find themselves with an altered Facebook experience and not realize the cause. This may result in support requests or complaints to Facebook.
- Not all extension authors keep their code updated with Facebook’s frequent changes, so the user experience could get worse over time and things may break.
I sympathize with their concerns, but I don’t think that more control is the solution. I believe that if you want to enable people to use things how they choose and optimize their use of your site, you must let go of some of these worries. Yes, users can potentially mess up their own experience. But that is a risk you must accept to maintain their freedom to control their own browser. Freedom is more important than control.
What About AdBlock? Why Not Go After Them?
AdBlock Plus is the biggest Firefox extension available – much more widely used than Social Fixer. It also blocks ads on Facebook and in the news feed. Shouldn’t they be target #1 for Facebook? Apparently not. Their Page is still up, with over 200,000 Likes. Similarly, so is the Page for “FB Purity”, another extension with similar feed filtering capabilities. Shouldn’t their Pages be removed as well?
I asked about both of these cases, as examples, and I was told by the person at Facebook that she was not aware of these apps or Pages, but would check into them.
So What Do I Plan To Do?
For now, my plan is to comply with their requests and remove the features that they object to. The purpose is not just to get the Page back (how this all started) but also to avoid the possible actions above.
As many users have already noted, this makes Social Fixer much less useful. I agree. I will continue working on ways to bring these features back. Many have suggested that I contact the EFF about this, and I plan to do so.
Opinion: The End Of The Power User
Charlie Warzel interviewed me a few weeks ago after the Page removal and wrote a story called “The End Of The Power User” about how tech companies are increasingly shutting out the most experienced and proficient users of their own services. I talked about this a bit with Facebook as well, and wrote a few paragraphs in email with my thoughts on this.
I believe that Facebook and other tech companies should embrace the people who want to use their services to their fullest potential. I created Social Fixer because I want to use Facebook more efficiently! I’m not stealing their content, or trying to get people to switch to Google+, or bad-mouthing every move they make. I’m improving the experience for users.
By taking a stance of embracing the power user community, companies like Facebook could get a reputation of supporting and empowering users. Instead, every user I talk to now seems to think that Facebook is going downhill and increasingly making decisions that benefit their stock holders rather than their users. That’s unfortunate.
The people at Facebook seemed to be understanding of my thoughts on this. I’m sure they’ve heard it before. They also seemed open to the idea of having further discussions on the issues and concerns of external developers.
What Can You Do?
I’m not going to organize a big protest of Facebook or a campaign to make our voices heard. Ain’t nobody got time for that! But if you would like to contact them in an appropriate manner, feel free to do so.
You can share this blog post, to let other people know about these changes and perhaps get some attention to the issue. If enough people question their attempt to control users’ browsers, perhaps they will reconsider. You can also upvote the post on Reddit if you use it.
Finally, you can donate to help the cause. I’ll be honest – donations aren’t going to go towards a legal fund or anything. But they will probably go towards me taking my wife out on a date or taking the kids on a weekend trip so I can get away from all this for a bit, relax, and get some clarity about how to move forward.
Let me know your thoughts – comment on this post on Facebook. Thanks!
I will keep you all updated about any progress I make on this. Be sure to keep an eye on this blog, and Like my temporary Page on Facebook for news: Important News for SFX Users.
Thank you for your continued support while I sort through all these issues. I hope I can get everything settled so I can get back to coding and making Facebook better!
In the days since I wrote about Social Fixer’s Page being suddenly removed by Facebook, the post has been read over 100,000 times and widely shared. I thought it would be good to post a follow-up to address some of the comments and questions that I’ve seen.
I have not heard a single word from Facebook so far. Nor anything from the Internet Offends Me page, who tries to help people who have their Pages or accounts unjustly removed. Apparently, it happens often. I’m working under the assumption that the Page will not be restored.
It’s impossible for me to even read all the comments out there, much less respond to them. Especially when there are literally thousands of them, all over the web – comments on this blog, my two Facebook Posts, Reddit, Slashdot, Hacker News, betanews, Fark, Ars Technica, Graham Cluley, Twitter, and more.
But here’s my stab at addressing some of the more common responses I’ve seen:
“Facebook doesn’t owe you anything! They can do what they want! They have no obligation to keep your Page around.”
I agree, they can do what they want, and they did. They didn’t break any laws, and I’m not at all saying that they had no right to remove my Page or do whatever else that want to do. But I can also do what I want, and remind people of how fragile their audience is when place any trust in the stability of Facebook. And I can raise awareness of their action, in the hope that they correct the mistake and re-publish the Page.
“Of course they removed your Page, you violate their Terms of Service!”
No I did not. First of all, keep in mind that Social Fixer is not an official Facebook App. I don’t use their API, and I am not registered with them as a developer. I am not bound by any TOS that governs official API developers. I do this on purpose, for this reason.
Second, the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities on Facebook’s site doesn’t talk directly about anything that Social Fixer does. People often point to this item, 3.11:
11. You will not do anything that could disable, overburden, or impair the proper working or appearance of Facebook, such as a denial of service attack or interference with page rendering or other Facebook functionality.
This item is clearly targeted at malware, spyware, etc. It is meant to say that you cannot do anything that will make Facebook work or appear incorrectly to OTHERS.
If you really want to broaden this item to mean that you can’t do anything that interferes with the “appearance” of Facebook to YOURSELF, then you can’t change your font size, you can’t use custom user styles to make it more readable, you can’t enlarge the screen, you can’t change fonts, etc. That’s absurd. It’s your browser, and you have every right to tweak how their site appears to YOU. It’s not even reasonable at all to expect that Facebook can control exactly how users display their site, otherwise they could dictate which browser you use, what screen size you use, fonts, etc.
As a user, you have the right to tweak how web sites are displayed in your own browser. Social Fixer runs in your own browser, and tweaks the display on your behalf, because you asked it to. This does not violate any Terms of Service.
“It’s stupid to put all your eggs in one basket. Never build a business that has such a critical dependence on another business or site!”
Well, first of all, Social Fixer depends on Facebook. That’s the whole point. If Facebook were to disappear tomorrow, my app would be useless. But I don’t think that’s going to happen, and I’m okay with that risk.
Second, I didn’t have a critical dependence on the Facebook Page. It was my means of communication to users. Social Fixer continues to work correctly without it, so nothing is broken. The only thing that was “broken” because they removed the Page is that I couldn’t send out messages to users as easily about new releases, bugs, etc.
I actually have a feature built into Social Fixer that checks my server for important messages, and displays them right on the screen of users. I used this feature after the Page was removed, to give people information about it. So I actually do have a backup mechanism, but it’s just not as convenient or friendly to users, so I prefer not to use it unless really necessary.
“Of course they removed your Page, it supports an application that does things they don’t want to be done!”
This may be true, but isn’t it a scary thing? So now Facebook doesn’t have consistent rules, but instead can make arbitrary decisions about what they like and what they don’t? Maybe if you put up a Page about Google+, they’ll take it down because it’s a competitor? Or if you put up a Page about a political party they disagree with or an anti-immigration Page, they can take it down because they don’t like it?
I mean, realistically, yes. They can. But this would not be a good model for them to work under, because people would realize it and call them on it. It’s in Facebook’s own best interest to be fair and unbiased. So, just because they don’t particularly like an application that tweaks their site shouldn’t be an acceptable reason to remove it.
And as this article clearly shows, Facebook can’t even decide what it finds objectionable. You can’t have a Page about a browser extension or breastfeeding, but you can have pro-rape groups and racist pages? Fantastic.
“Of course they removed your Page, it lets people block ads!”
- If that’s the case, then the AdBlock Plus Page should surely be removed, right? It’s still there.
- Social Fixer doesn’t block ads by default
- In fact, there isn’t a specific feature to block ads in the right column. It’s just a box that can be hidden, like any other box. I don’t specifically target their revenue. I just let people hide anything they don’t want to see, and Ads happen to be one of those things.
“Why don’t you setup a community on Google+?”
Most Facebook users don’t have Google+ accounts, nor do they like it. I don’t even like it. It doesn’t make sense to use another social network to communicate with users, all of whom are on Facebook to begin with (otherwise they wouldn’t be using Social Fixer!)
“Was Facebook mad at you because they offered you a job and you turned them down?”
No. There were some factual errors in a few posts about this. Facebook never offered me a job. They found me and asked me to go through the interview process. I accepted, and after the initial technical challenge and a few phone interviews, they declined to go forward, citing that I was not a “cultural fit”. But the truth is, had I received an offer, I would have turned them down.
I hope that clears up any of the confusion, or clarifies my view on this. As always, thanks for your support and for helping me raise awareness of this. I appreciate it!
-- Matt Kruse, developer of Social Fixer
I’ve spent 4 years and countless hours building up a community around my software: my Page had 338,050 Likes, my Support Group had 13,360 members, and my Interest List had 1.47 Million followers. But all of that work was wiped out in an instant when Facebook decided to shut it down without notice.
(See below for details about how to give your feedback to Facebook about this decision)
Update 9/19: I have posted a response to many questions and comments I have received since originally posting this. Please click and check it out.
My software is a free browser extension that fixes and enhances the Facebook user interface, called Social Fixer. It is widely popular and used by over a million people. Since my application is tightly integrated with Facebook, it’s only logical that I would use the site to build my community of users, provide support, and make important announcements. I am trying to make their site better, after all.
I Have Never Posted Spam!
I’ve been diligent about always treating my followers with respect – never posting spam, avoiding any kind of engagement manipulation, and refusing to succumb to the tricks other Pages use to game the news feed. So it was quite a surprise when I logged in on September 2nd, 2013 and found that my Page had been “unpublished” and the reason cited was Spam. I’ve never posted spam! Nothing even close to it!
I had but one single action I could take – click the “Appeal” button. There was no room to write an explanation, plead my case, or ask why they had effectively shut me down. So I clicked, wondering how many hours it would take to resolve this.
UPDATE - SEP 11: FB has completely removed my Page!
It’s gone. Years of work and almost 340,000 fans, wiped out. Erased.
I have never been given any details about what “community standards” I was apparently violating (because I wasn’t). This is a case of Facebook choosing to shut down someone’s business just because they want to, not because they were doing anything wrong. This is extremely frustrating and disappointing to me, and should be to others as well.
Not only did they remove the page, but they also blocked my personal account from posting anything for 12 hours (I can’t even Like anything). They also did the same for anyone who was an Administrator or Moderator of the Page – including my wife’s personal account! Members of the support team, who generously volunteer their time to help users, have been shut out as well. They did one big sweep, I guess.
Be Warned: You Are At The Mercy Of Facebook
So let this be a word of caution to other businesses, brands, and individuals who are increasingly relying on Facebook to communicate with their audience, gather feedback, and provide support: You are at their mercy. The entire community you’ve worked so hard building up, spent so much money developing, could be gone in an instant on the whim of some person at Facebook or some automated reporting algorithm. Your complaints may be ignored, and your one-click “appeal” may not even be considered. Your community can be erased without a single explanation.
It seems to me that relying on Facebook is risky at best, when they can remove everything without notice, without cause, and without the means to give meaningful feedback. Is it smart to base your business on a platform as shaky and unpredictable as this? There have been countless other examples of accounts being taken down or limited, often in error. Beware. Your community may be more fragile than you think.
What Exactly Prompted This? I Have No Idea.
Since my incident came without any advance notice, warning, or explanation, I am left to guess at what really triggered it.
- It’s possible that a malicious user or competitor had people submit my Page as being Spam. Perhaps an automated system gathered multiple invalid reports in a short amount of time and shut me down? Not likely.
- Or perhaps it was a result of the piece published on Ars Technica a week earlier, where the author questions why other extensions’ Pages had been shut down, but not mine?
- Or perhaps my legitimate Page was confused with a user-created Group of the same name that I discovered days later, who was genuinely spamming? If so, isn’t it a scary prospect that someone could use your name to spam others, and get you shut down in the process?
- Or perhaps it was because my Interest List has a huge number of subscribers, and is constantly a target for scammers trying to impersonate me and capitalize on the large following I have there. Maybe that triggered some internal flag?
- Or perhaps Facebook just got tired of me customizing their site for its users. Maybe they were looking for an excuse to try to shut me down, and marking my Page as spam was one way to do it. They took similar action against FB Purity (a “competing” extension, though they also had trademark violation issues) and Unfriend Finder.
The thing is, I don’t even know which – if any – of these reasons are correct because Facebook provides absolutely no information when they decide to shut down your business page.
Tell Facebook What You Think
I’m hoping that with a little bit of user-generated exposure, Facebook may realize that a mistake was made and reinstate the Page.
Here’s how you can help:
- this post to Facebook or other networks.
(Reddit, Slashdot, etc)
- Re-tweet my Tweet about it, if Twitter is your thing.
- Report an Issue with Facebook Pages and tell them why this was a mistake.
(the URL of the page was: https://facebook.com/socialfixer)
- Email Facebook:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com
- Donate to support the project, because I’m going to need a vacation after all this
How To Get Social Fixer Updates
Since the Social Fixer Page was my primary way of communicating with users, I now have to resort to other means. Here’s how I will get in touch:
- The Social Fixer News list still exists, and I’ve created a temporary Page to publish there. You should still see updates from me there.
- This Blog (rss feed) will be where I post important information about new updates, release notes, etc. I always post links to it, but keep an eye out just in case.
- Social Fixer has a built-in feature that lets me put important messages on the home screen of users. I will use that feature sparingly, only for important messages. Never for regular updates or general information.
- As a last resort, I always go back to Twitter (I don’t really like Twitter). You can follow me @matt_kruse
What Will Happen To Social Fixer?
Nothing will change. I will need to setup a new way to communicate with users and offer support, but I will continue developing the application and it will continue working as before. Facebook can remove my Page and take other actions on its own site, but it cannot stop me from developing and distributing a browser extension to improve it. Social Fixer runs in your browser, so you retain control of it. Facebook cannot shut that down.
I’m not going to spend a ton of time “fighting” Facebook. I want to get the word out about this, and I want people to be aware of how easily their community can be erased. But my main interest is in developing an awesome tool for users, and I will get back into that ASAP. Keep moving forward!
Thank You For Your Support!!!
As always, the support from users when things don’t go my way has been fantastic. Everyone is so willing to help out, spread the word, give feedback to Facebook, etc. I really appreciate that. It’s nice to see people willing to give back, because it means you value what I’ve created, and that is what matters to me.
Today, Sep 2, The Social Fixer Page has been removed from Facebook, apparently because they think it contains spam. Obviously, it does not. Luckily, the removal of the Page does not impact the functionality of the Social Fixer app at all. It will continue to function as normal in all ways. What it does affect is my ability to communicate with the hundreds of thousands of people who use my app, notify you of updates or problems, etc.
I do not know yet what prompted this decision, nor do I know if it will be permanent. I have clicked the button to appeal the decision, but I have no way of providing feedback or “pleading my case”.
The actions of Facebook are seemingly random sometimes, and there is little to nothing that users can do about it. I have heard stories from other people whose Pages have been removed without warning, never to be returned. Unfortunately, when we use Facebook as the basis for running a group or business or even a free browser extension, we are at their mercy, and we have no way of knowing for sure what the rules are or how they enforce them.
I will obviously continue following up on this, and hopefully Facebook will realize its mistake and reinstate the Page. If not, I will need to find alternate ways of communicating with users. As always, thank you for your patience as I work through annoying speed bumps like these!
When you play games on Facebook, or use Apps, or login to web site using your Facebook account, you often need to give them permission to make posts on your behalf. But if you don’t want your friends seeing every level you beat or high score you get, there is one simple setting you need to change.
When you connect to any Facebook App (like a game, or a web site) a dialog will be shown to request permission to access your account. If the App is going to post to your news feed, there will be a setting hidden in the lower left. See this example:
By default, the permissions will be either “Public” or “Friends”. Here’s the secret: You can change this to “Only Me” before accepting! That way, the App will still have permission to make posts to your Timeline, but they will never be visible to your friends. If you change this setting, you can be sure that every move you make in a game will not be broadcast to friends who probably don’t care. It won’t affect your game play at all.
Similarly, on web sites you may get a popup like this:
You can change the permission of posts using the same “Only Me” value:
This way, if you post a comment on the site or update some data, there is no chance that the site will announce this to your friends without you realizing it. The only person who will ever see anything the site posts is you.
How Can I Change It For Existing Apps?
Simple. Just navigate to the “Apps” section of your Privacy settings by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications
From there, just click to Edit any App, and you can change the visibility in the settings panel that opens.
There’s nothing wrong with playing Games on Facebook, but if you want to avoid “spamming” your friends with posts that you don’t even want them to see, this simple setting is what you are looking for. I hope you find it helpful!
Have you ever gotten a friend request from someone you knew was already your friend? After you accept, they try to chat with you, and you realize this isn’t really them – it’s a hacker who is impersonating them! Here is how to stop it from happening to your account with one simple setting.
Hackers can create this imposter account because your name, profile picture, and cover photo are all always “public”. You can’t change this. So anyone can create a fake account to match yours (at least at first glance). The next thing the hackers do is to go to each person in your friends list, and send them a friend request.
You can prevent the second step, and thwart the hacker’s attempt to contact your friends by hiding your friends list from the public. If they can’t see your friends, they can’t send the friend request to each of them. By default, this setting is public. You should lock it down.
First, load your friend list by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/me/friends
Click on the pencil in the upper right as shown, and choose “Edit Privacy”.
(Note: Your screen may look slightly different than these screenshots)
In the dropdown for “Who can see your friend list” you can choose one of several options. If you want to be really locked down, choose “Only Me”. Then no one (even your friends) will be able to see who your friends are. Or if you want to be slightly more open, choose "Friends". (Note: Anyone viewing your profile will be able to see your list of Mutual Friends. There is no way to prevent this, unfortunately.)
For some people, this may still be a little too private. To open up the privacy a little, you can change the privacy to “Friends of Friends” by choosing “Custom” from the list, and making the change in the popup:
Save your changes and close the popups, and now your friends list is private! Hackers wanting to impersonate you will not be able to see your list of friends, so they won’t be able to send requests to your friends.
If you find this tip helpful, please Like and with your friends. And if you aren’t already a user of the Social Fixer browser extension, check it out at http://SocialFixer.com – it lets you customize your Facebook experience to remove annoyances and add helpful features.
-- Matt Kruse, developer of Social Fixer
Social Fixer has a feature that many people may not know about – the ability to “anonymize” the screen you are looking at, to remove any personal-identifying information. The purpose of this feature is to make it easy to post screenshots to sites like Reddit, or use them in presentations, training manuals, or blog posts.
The “Anonymize Screen” menu option is the last one under the wrench menu. Just click it at any time, and your screen will be anonymized. And if you don’t like the colored backgrounds, you can turn them off under Options->Advanced: “When anonymizing, use colors to distinguish users”.
There are two issues to be aware of with this functionality:
1. Facebook’s content is dynamic, so new comments and posts may get loaded into the current page at any time. These things will not be anonymized, since the act of anonymizing the screen only happens once. Of you can always anonymize again!
2. Facebook’s code is continually changing, so they may introduce new tags or structures which Social Fixer doesn’t recognize and doesn’t anonymize. I update this feature with every release to keep it as current as possible, though sometimes it’s not perfect.
If you find this feature useful, please Share it with other people, especially those on sites like Reddit where it would be very convenient. Thanks!
-- Matt, developer of Social Fixer
After the release of version 7.701 of Social Fixer, there seems to be some confusion and frustration about the options to auto-click More Stories and control the auto-loading as you scroll down. I hope this helps clear things up.
First, a note: Customizing Facebook and making it work in different browsers is a very difficult task. I’m going to explain why things work how they do, but it’s probably more complicated than you realize. There is just no super-simple way to explain it, because it’s not an easy problem. So…
- Changes in the Chrome browser forced me to change how this works
- Two options control all behavior
- Messages are shown to tell you what is happening
- If you have problems, make sure you only have Social Fixer installed once, and clearing your cache and restarting your browser may fix it.
Facebook’s Auto-Loading Works Fine. Why Mess With It?
It works fine in some cases, but not all. Here’s the problem – their code detects when you have scrolled near the bottom of the page, and automatically loads more posts for you. Convenient. The problem is – if a lot of posts in your news feed have been tabbed or all of them have been marked as read, then the bottom of the feed is visible, and Facebook thinks you have scrolled all the way down and you want more posts! Their code will continue to load posts forever, because it keeps thinking you are at the bottom, and this causes the browser to slow down and in some cases lock up.
Facebook doesn’t expect the news feed stories to be filtered, tabbed, or hidden, so its code breaks in these cases. That’s why I need to patch in a fix, so it doesn’t behave that way.
Chrome Makes Life Difficult
Recent changes to the Chrome browser (beyond my control) have changed how I need to write some of the code in Social Fixer. (Read the technical details here). Because of this, I had to take away some features, like the display of load count and the checkbox to toggle auto-loading of more stories in the control panel. I hope to put them back, but right now that was too big of a task to tackle.
So in some cases, changes in one browser force a change for all browsers. I can’t maintain multiple code branches separately for each browser, I have to code to the lowest common denominator. It’s a bummer.
How Do The New Options Work?
It’s actually quite simple. There are now just two checkboxes in the Popular tab of Social Fixer options to control this behavior:
Auto-click “More Stories” ___ times
If this checkbox is checked, and the input box has a number greater than 0, then Social Fixer will click for “More Stories” that number of times. This lets you load up, say, 10 pages of older posts each time, so your news feed is fuller and you might see posts you missed from earlier.
When this option runs, it puts a box at the bottom of the news feed that tells you what it is doing:
Many people (myself included) find it more convenient to have this information at the top, in the control panel. But as I described above, that’s not as simple as it seems, for technical reasons. I had to change that for now, until I can find a way around it.
Auto-load more posts when scrolled to the bottom
By default, Social Fixer removes Facebook’s code that automatically loads more posts when you scroll to the bottom, for the reasons mentioned above. This is the option that puts that functionality back in. It’s enabled by default, so everyone should have their news feed load more posts when they scroll, just like before.
But I have to do things a bit differently than Facebook. They have code that detects when the 4th-from-last story is visible, and that’s when they trigger the load. But I need to make sure that you are actually scrolling, otherwise I will run into the same problems as above with an empty feed. So I detect the scroll, and check to see if you are within 100 pixels of the bottom. If you are, then I trigger the loading of more posts.
There is a chance that some browsers or some situations may cause this scroll detection to not work correctly. I am looking into that.
When you have this option enabled, a message will be shown at the bottom of the feed telling you that auto-loading of posts won’t happen until the feed is scrolled:
This message is here so users aren’t confused about why they are at the bottom of the feed, but new posts aren’t loading. You have to scroll down! Once you actually scroll down, more posts will be loaded.
Why Is There An Annoying Message?
When both options are off, and Social Fixer is not doing any auto-clicking for you or auto-loading when you scroll to the bottom, a message is shown:
Some users have complained that this is annoying, but I think it’s necessary because many users will not understand why more posts aren’t being loaded when they scroll to the bottom and these options are off. This message appears to let you know that the code is working correctly, and this is why you aren’t seeing more posts appear.
Manually Clicking “More Stories” Should Always Work
You should always be able to click the More Stories link at the bottom to load more. If this isn’t happening, then there is a bug and I need to figure out why it’s happening.
Some users are reporting that the features do not actually work as described above. I’m hoping that this is just a case of not understanding how it works, which is why I wrote this blog post. But if there are real problems, I want to know about them!
First, there are a few things you should check if you’re having problems:
- Make sure Social Fixer only installed once in your extensions list. Some users have reported it showing up twice after the latest update. I don’t know why this happens.
- Try clearing your browser cache and restarting your browser.
- Double-check your options to make sure they are set how you think they are.
There are a few cases where the code may not function correctly, according to user reports:
- When viewing the feed for a custom friend List.
- When navigating around, and going “back” to the home page.
I am investigating these cases as well, to figure out if a real problem exists and how to fix it.
Let Me Know What You Are Seeing
Please comment on this post and let me know if you are experiencing problems, or if this blog post cleared up any confusion. I hope it’s the latter