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Opinion Editorials

Facebook locks out business pages without warning or remedy

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Facebook pages locked out

Tech writer Ken Fisher at Ars Technica woke up recently and logged in to Facebook to find his business page locked with no warning. So did sex blogger Violet Blue. Dave Legg from Neowin, photographer Mark Weikert, and the iPod Touch Blog did as well. They claim there was no warning, no explanation and no recourse. Can you imagine sipping coffee on the patio first thing in the morning and watching the sunrise then opening your Facebook to see your page you’ve worked so hard on locked?

Ken Fisher reached out to Facebook who after a long period of their being “non responsive,” sent an email that led him to a generic link on their help page about copyright violations.

Judge, jury and executioner

Fisher said, “Prior to the account lockout, we had received no notices of infringement or warnings. Truly, we awoke to find that Facebook had summoned a judge, jury, and executioner and carried out its swift brand of McJustice all without bothering to let us know that there was even a problem.”

Neowin’s Facebook page was removed several time for alleged copyright infringement and noted the only recourse is for the person who complained to retract the claim for page restoration. Fisher notes that the system is flawed in that people can file fake claims with fake contact information and Facebook doesn’t investigate, rather freezes accounts.

Facebook assigning locked pages to other users!?!?

Some users have even contacted Facebook explaining their legitimate rights to the content (especially photographers) but Facebook favors the complainant. Photographer Mark Weikert claims he too had anonymous complainants and Facebook allegedly assigned a “fan” as the admin who proceeded to rename it and take over the page. He had to start over from scratch.

The Touch iPod Blog’s Facebook was in violation for posting content. From their blog. What? Facebook’s official response to the locked pages is PR spin about how important intellectual property laws are to them.

How Realtors are impacted

Thousands of Realtors now have Facebook pages for their business and use it essentially as a storefront to attract visitors and engage consumers on their preferred turf. This is fantastic, we’ve always recommended doing so.

But what if your most successful lead generator (if it is that for you) is taken away with no explanation and recourse? Isn’t Facebook in America where our culture is innocent until proven guilty? Facebook changes their policies and privacy setting so frequently, no one can be reasonably expected to keep up with that minutia.

On the other hand, we are very protective of intellectual property. AGBeat is copied, scraped, quoted, used and straight up stolen from with no attribution. Conference speakers use the site as research for their talking points, bloggers steal our research and quote our numbers as their own, our articles are reprinted without permission and the list goes on.

The current state is unacceptable, Facebook.

That said, Facebook should have a warning system or some sort of complaint process. The current state is ridiculously easy to abuse and thus it is happening in rising frequency. Real estate is an insanely petty industry with a small percentage of people that are willing to do anything to hurt a competitor from falsely reporting a Facebook page for copyright infringement to kicking down yard signs. We all know that guy (or gal).

We’re not saying Facebook needs to have a court room and a jury and fancy wigs, but some form of recourse other than giving your page away MUST be implemented.

Realtors, on your business page, don’t post to Facebook anything you didn’t create or write. Facebook, you cannot walk on water and you are not omnipresent, and your smug behavior is offensive to those of us who use your service, buy ads or click ads keeping you in your ivory tower.

Have you experienced a page lock out? Tell us about it in comments.

Ars Technica deserves gratitude for their persistence with Facebook in getting answers, albeit closure for the masses is not guaranteed.

Updates

It is alleged that in the UK, activist websites are being removed for “violation of terms” with no explanation. OpenDemocracy.net says they are in indirect contact with Facebook and have not ruled out a government connection yet and questions the timing as tensions rise in the nation.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Liz Benitez

    April 29, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    OUCH!! So far I have not been locked out <crosses fingers, knocks on wood>.

  2. Paula Henry

    April 29, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Ah!! Crazy! There is some truth to the thought of building your business on rented property, where you have no control. What's the alternative? Everyone presumably is on Facebook, but does it matter if you wake up one day and can't communicate with them.

    • Lani Rosales

      May 3, 2011 at 10:04 am

      Or what if *their* servers go down and your storefront is closed and you have no one to call?

  3. Mary Pope-Handy

    April 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    That's pretty awful. I have to think that FB will get its act together and not be so capricious. My biz page is not a big part of my business (my blogs are) but I'd still be VERY upset if it suddenly disappeared.

    • Lani Rosales

      May 3, 2011 at 10:05 am

      Mary, if Google is any indicator, I don't think it will get its act together. For example, if you blog on Blogger and you are reported as being in violation of any terms of service, your blog is taken down… who do you suppose you can call at Google? That's right- no one, so you better have some press contacts, that's the only way people have gotten restoration is making a fuss. Just like these companies are having to do with Facebook. What a shame.

  4. Nick Bastian

    April 29, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    It amazes me how many social media gurus in our market are touting FB as the end all- be all for market domination. I sat in a class recently where a guy was "teaching" agents how to be "found on page 1 of Google." One of his brilliant remarks was to tell agents they no longer need a website or a blog because they have everything they need in Facebook, Active Rain and some cheesy "single property website."
    ugh…

    • Lani Rosales

      May 3, 2011 at 10:07 am

      Like T said, it's good for Realtors ahead of the game if the gurus spout this, but for the industry, it's bad news.

  5. Teresa Boardman

    May 1, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I can not think of any situation where we use something that is owned by someone else for free and get to control it. Nick – I like it when the experts give my competitors advice. 🙂

    • Benn Rosales

      May 1, 2011 at 11:33 am

      We recently met a realtor who is doing exactly this, claims to have at that time 177 individual pages that were feeding related net content by rss, none of which was hers- she was suggesting to realtors via panel of experts that this was the future of lead gen.

      • Paula Henry

        May 1, 2011 at 11:48 am

        Benn – With every conceivable search platform looking for eyeballs, this could be very well be the future of lead gen. However, I wonder, what happens when all those places the content is generated to, start charging for each submission; be it by rss feed or individual posts? Is the price worth it? I would rather have my own content with less eyeballs, than to think tomorrow I may be subject to the whim of a CEO who has decided they need more money.

        Just in the RE space, look at all the companies who woo'ed the masses with "free" and now charge, sometimes exorbitantly.

        • Benn Rosales

          May 1, 2011 at 11:54 am

          Well, you make a great point, but free or not, infringement isn't the future of anything. The future is absorbing as many eyes from free platforms to your own tiny island while you can, suck the freemarts to death, and abandon them as fast as they abandon you. It's funny to me the march to be anywhere that you don't control 100%.

  6. Tina Merritt

    May 3, 2011 at 6:39 am

    I too have sat in on "guru" presentations that tout FB and Twitter as "all a real estate agent needs". Right – and all you need is 1 pissed off client or competitor to take down both.

    AG rocks – thank you for getting my brain working each morning!

    • Lani Rosales

      May 3, 2011 at 10:08 am

      Tina, you're EXACTLY right! If it's not your sandbox, you're not in control and while natural conversation is healthy, you're right- add a dash of crazy pants and you've got a bad time.

  7. Missy Caulk

    May 3, 2011 at 7:42 am

    I know Facebook, isn't our platform, just like many of the places we are but it concerns be because on my FB business page, I post not just real estate but events around Ann Arbor.

    To stick to just real estate would be boring and not engaging.

    • Lani Rosales

      May 3, 2011 at 10:09 am

      Missy, my personal belief is that this isn't a Facebook vendetta, this is competitors crying foul with no consequence. This behavior is akin (on a very low level) to the jerk who kicks over your signs- we've all been there.

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Opinion Editorials

Why robots freak us out, and what it means for the future of AI

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Robots and humans have a long way to go before the social divide disappears, but research is giving us insight on how to cross the uncanny valley.

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Close of R2D2 toy, an example of robots that we root for, but why?

We hate robots. Ok, wait, back up. We at least think they are more evil than good. Try it yourself – “are robots” in Google nets you evil before good. Megatron has higher SEO than Optimus Prime, and it’s not just because he’s so much cooler. It cuz he evil, cuz. It do be like that.

It’s not even a compliment to call someone robotic; society connotes this to emotionless preprogrammed shells of hideous nothing, empty clankbags that walk and talk and not much else. So, me at a party. Or if you’re a nerd, you’re a robot. (Me at a party once again.)

Let’s start by assuming robots as human-like bipedal machines that are designed with some amount of artificial intelligence, generally designed to fulfill a job to free up humanity from drudgery. All sounds good so far. So why do they creep us out?

There’s a litany of reasons why, best summed up with the concept of the uncanny valley, first coined by roboticist Masahiro Mori (Wow he’s still alive! The robots have not yet won) in 1970. Essentially, we know what a human is and how it looks and behaves against the greater backdrop of life and physics. When this is translated to a synthetic being, we are ok with making a robot look and act like us to a point, where we then notice all the irregularities and differences.

Most of these are minor – unnaturally smooth or rigid movements, light not scattering properly on a surface, eyes that don’t sync up quite right when they blink, and several other tiny details. Lots of theories take over at this point about why this creeps us out. But a blanket way to think about it is that our expectation doesn’t match what we are seeing; the reality we’re presented with is off just enough and this makes us uncomfortable .

Ever stream a show and the audio is a half second off? Makes you really annoyed. Magnify that feeling by a thousand and you’re smack in the middle of the uncanny valley. It’s that unnerving. One possible term for this is abjection, which is what happens the moment before we begin to fear something. Our minds – sensing incompatibility with robots – know this is something else, something other , and faced with no way to categorize this, we crash.

This is why they make good villains in movies – something we don’t understand and given free will and autonomy, potentially imbued with the bias of a creator or capable of forming terrifying conclusions all on its own (humans are a virus). But they also make good heroes, especially if they are cute or funny. Who doesn’t love C3PO? That surprise that they are good delights us. Build in enough appeal to a robot, and we root for them and feel empathy when they are faced with hardships. Do robots dream of electric sheep? Do robots have binary souls? Bits and zeros and ones?

Professor Jaime Banks (Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication) spends a lot of time thinking about how we perceive robots. It’s a complex and multifaceted topic that covers anthropomorphism, artificial intelligence, robot roles within society, trust, inherently measuring virtue versus evil, preconceived notions from entertainment, and numerous topics that cover human-robot interactions.

The world is approaching a future where robots may become commonplace; there are already robot bears in Japan working in the healthcare field. Dressing them up with cute faces and smiles may help, but one jerky movement later and we’ve dropped all suspension.

At some point, we have to make peace with the idea that they will be all over the place. Skynet, GLaDOS in Portal, the trope of your evil twin being a robot that your significant will have to shoot in the middle of your fight, that episode of Futurama where everything was a robot and they rose up against their human masters with wargod washing machines and killer greeting cards, the other Futurama episode where they go to a planet full of human hating murderous robots… We’ve all got some good reasons to fear robots and their coded minds.

But as technology advances, it makes sense to have robots take over menial tasks, perform duties for the needy and sick, and otherwise benefit humanity at large. And so the question we face is how to build that relationship now to help us in the future.

There’s a fine line between making them too humanlike versus too mechanical. Pixar solved the issue of unnerving humanoids in their movies by designing them stylistically – we know they are human and accept that the figure would look odd in real life. We can do the same with robots – enough familiarity to develop an appeal, but not enough to erase the divide between humanity and robot. It may just be a question of time and new generations growing up with robots becoming fixtures of everyday life. I’m down for cyborgs too.

Fearing them might not even be bad, as Banks points out: “…a certain amount of fear can be a useful thing. Fear can make us think critically and carefully and be thoughtful about our interactions, and that would likely help us productively engage a world where robots are key players.”

Also, check out Robot Carnival if you get the chance – specifically the Presence episode of the anthology.

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Opinion Editorials

BIPOC Gen Zers are using TikTok to create cultural awareness

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) TikTok has become a platform for younger generations to share their cultures, paving the way for a more inclusive society. And they’re doing it one 15 second video at a time.

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Black person's hands holding a phone loading TikTok above a wooden table.

When scrolling on TikTok, you might come across this question posed by a BIPOC creator (Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color): “How old were you when you realized you weren’t ugly, you just lived in a predominantly White space?”

Growing up in predominantly White spaces myself with immigrant parents from the Middle East, I had a warped perspective of beauty. Straight light hair, fair skin, Western features, a stick-thin figure – I internalized my physical otherness as lack.

It wasn’t until I moved to a diverse city for college that I realized this. I saw others speaking different languages, eating ethnic foods and dressing however they wanted without fear of losing their proximity to Whiteness. Exposure to others who didn’t fit “the mold” was transformative for me.

As someone in their mid-twenties, I came of age with social media like Tumblr, Facebook and, ultimately, Instagram. But I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t wish TikTok was around when I was a kid.

For reference, most TikTok users are between 16-24, meaning that many are still in high school. While content on TikTok is really all over the place and specifically catered to your preferences (you can feel the algorithums at work as your scroll), one facet that I find integral to the app’s essence is Gen Z proudly showcasing their cultures – aka #culturecheck.

Besides the countless ethnic food tutorials (some of my favorite content on the app!), fashion has become a main way for BIPOC or immigrant TikTokers to fully express their identities and share their culture with other users on the app, regardless of physical location.

Take the #FashionEdit challenge, where creators lip sync to a mash-up of Amine’s “Caroline” and “I Just Did a Bad Thing” by Bill Wurtz as they transform from their everyday Western clothes into that of their respective culture.

In her famous video, Milan Mathew – the creator attributed to popularizing this trend – sits down in a chair. She edits the clip in such a way that as she sits, her original outfit switches to a baby-pink lehenga and she becomes adorned with traditional Indian jewelry. Denise Osei does the same, switching into tradition Ghanaian dress. If you can think of a culture or ethnicity, chances are they are represented in this TikTok trend.

This past Indigenous People’s Day, James Jones’ videos went viral across various social media platforms, as he transformed into his traditional garments and performed tribal dances.

Though the cultures and respective attire they showcase are unique in each video, the energy is all the same: proud and beautiful. Showing off what your culture wears has become a way to gain clout on the app and inspire others to do the same.

The beautiful thing about cultural/ethnic TikTok is that it isn’t just Mexicans cheering for other Mexicans, or Arabs cheering for other Arabs – the app sustains a general solidarity across racial and ethnic lines while cultivating an appreciation of world cultures.

But just how deep does that appreciation go? Some users think (and I agree) that “liking” a video of an attractive creator in traditional dress is hardly a radical move in dismantling notions of Western beauty.

While TikTok trends might not solve these issues entirely, it’s important to note that they are moving things in the right directions – I certainly never saw anything like this when I was growing up.

For whatever reason, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers seem to have a lot of shade to throw at Gen Z. But one thing is for certain – this young generation is paving the way for a more inclusive, more respectful society, which is something we should all get behind. And they’re doing it one 15 second video at a time.

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Opinion Editorials

This website is like Pinterest for WFH desk setups

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) If you’ve been working from home at the same, unchanged desk setup, it may be time for an upgrade. My Desk Tour has the inspiration you need.

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Man browsing desk setups on My Desk Tour

Whether you’re sitting, standing, or reclining your way through the pandemic, you’re most likely doing it from home these days. You’re also probably contending with an uninspired desk configuration hastily cobbled together in March, which—while understandable—might be bringing you down. Fortunately, there’s an easy, personable solution to spark your creativity: My Desk Tour.

My Desk Tour is a small website started by Jonathan Cai. On this site, you will find pictures of unique and highly customized desk setups; these desk configurations range from being optimized for gamers to coders to audiophiles, so there’s arguably something for everyone—even if you’re just swinging by to drool for a bit.

Cai also implements a feature in which site users can tag products seen in desk photos with direct links to Amazon so you don’t have to poke around the Internet for an hour in search of an obscure mouse pad. This is something Cai initially encountered on Reddit and, after receiving guidance from various subreddits on the issue of which mouse to purchase, he found the inspiration to create My Desk Tour.

The service itself is pretty light—the landing page consists of a few desk setup photos and a rotating carousel of featured configurations—but it has great potential to grow into a desk-focused social experience of sorts.

It’s also a great place to drop in on if you’re missing the extra level of adoration for your desk space that a truly great setup invokes. Since most people who have been working from home since the spring didn’t receive a ton of advance notice, it’s reasonable to assume that the majority of folks have resigned themselves to a boring or inefficient desk configuration. With a bit of inspiration from My Desk Tour, that can change overnight.

Of course, some of the desk options featured on the site are a bit over the top. One configuration boasts dual ultra-wide monitors stacked atop each other, and another shows off a monitor flanked by additional vertical monitors—presumably for the sake of coding. If you’re scrambling to stay employed, such a setup might be egregious.

If you’re just looking for a new way to orient your workspace for the next few months, though, My Desk Tour is worth a visit.

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