Social Fixer Page Removed: Follow-up And Responses To Questions And Comments

trash2In 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.

Further, Social Fixer clearly does not violate and of their Community Standards, nor did the Page violate and of their Page Terms.

“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!”

  1. adblockplus_512[1]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.</ol>

        “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. Winking smile


      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