Facebook Compromises: Social Fixer Can Keep Feed Filtering

thumbs_upI’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. Smile

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. Winking smile

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