The case of the disappearing Facebook accounts

The DigitalBeat column on VentureBeat recently reported on a case where three critics of Facebook had their accounts mysteriously deactivated.

Juan Faerman, an author in Argentina who wrote a book called Faceboom, the cover of which has the title rendered in a font which easily could be mistaken for Facebook’s official logo, had his profile deactivating shortly after releasing the book, along with two others involved in the book and its marketing.

More troubling than that is Facebook shut down a group for fans of the book, which the trio claims had 30,000 fans at the time of shutdown. This smacks of censorship. It is one thing to claim trademark infringement due to similarities between the book’s cover and the official Facebook logo, but I feel Facebook crossed way over the line here.

Most troubling is that it took VentureBeat’s inquiry as well as an uproar in Latin American media in order for Juan to get his account back. This is unacceptable. Shame on you, Facebook.

At one time I wrote, but did not publish, a no-nonsense parody of one of Facebook’s help files. Which one, you ask? Okay, I’ll come clean. I parodied the one about the block function after someone blocked me. I was hesitant to publish it, if for no other reason because I’m not sure where it should go. It’s too good, and unfortunately, also a bit too no-nonsense and too profane to put in a blog post.

I’d like to think Facebook wouldn’t deactivate my account over it, though. The case for a distributed social network that cannot be arbitrarily censored by any one party is a lot closer to being made if Facebook were to do so, however.