Saturday, March 29, 2008

Facebook blocks from adding members

I only have about 700 FB friends and I have been blocked from adding any more. I see so many members there with more then 1000 FB friends. Here is the dreaded message:

You have exceeded the limit for adding friends!

You are temporarily blocked from adding friends. Block times vary depending on the feature and scale of abuse. Blocks cannot be lifted.

Misuse of Facebook's features may result in your account being disabled

If you have questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page

here

If you read their FAQ that they suggest to read with the message that tells you that you are blocked from adding any more members, It does not tell you much. It is very vague.

Here are two answers straight from their FAQ
What are the limits?
Unfortunately, Facebook cannot provide any specifics on the rate limits that we enforce. Please know, however, that the speed at which you are acting and the sheer number of actions you have made are both taken into account.

How long will the block last? Can it be lifted?
The duration of the block varies depending on the nature of the offense, ranging from a few hours to a few days. When the block is over, please proceed with your site activity at a slower rate so as to avoid hitting another block or having your account disabled. Facebook will not lift this block for you until the entire penalty time has elapsed.

For start

1. It does not tell you what is block time.

2. They will not tell you what is the rate one can add FB friends. There is a vague statement that says that you have exceeded your rate with the threat that if you abuse your privileges here you will be banned.

3. It does not tell you what is the maximum number of FB friends you can have. Apparently they have some number in mind but they will not spell it out that there are limits.

Facebook seems to me is suffering from some kind schizophrenia. At one end you have the cute looking sweet talking founder Mark Zuckerman who wants everybody to join Facebook and get connected so that his enterprise become successful. When you join facebook they are on your back every day suggesting possible FB friends but when you get going immediately you are warned that there are limits on what you can do and they are not even spilled out clearly.

Can they really answer what is the acceptable rate at which one can add members?

I was testing FB to see if it is really a viable alternative to other options to support my teaching activities and find other people who have similar interests like mine. Since student are there why not bring the shop closer to them that was the premise. Plus there seems to be some interest by others such BJ Fogg from Stanford and many others link1, link2 who are creating facebook applications to promote teaching and learning on the facebook. I created few groups such as "Attention Economy", "Open free Education Resources" and few other course related groups and they are moderately successful. Also, I encouraged one guy to port his web application to Facebook to create an advanced calculator MaximaPHP that can deal with any kind of calcualtion and it will be extremely useful for Engineers and Engineering students if it works and we do not get the FB message "Please try again". It does work for computation that do not exceed the time limit set by Facebook on its applications.

I started collecting members because it is not possible to know in advance who is who and after adding 100 FB friends one can probably get 2 or 3 FB friends who may be useful and may be another 5 to 10 who wants to exchange some useless messages through one of those Facebook social applications. Rest are there with practically not much interaction and are FB friends. Considering this one needs at least 2000 FB friends to find 40 to 50 like minded individuals who can be considered as newly found intellectual friends. However, facebook policies prevent one from doing this. In fact I am not even sure what those policies really are because as I said earlier they encourage you to get members by making it easy and at first they even suggest you possible friends then once you get going they want to put a damper on your activities. I went on facebook to find new like minded individuals. I do not need Facebook to communicate with my existing friends. In fact most of them are older and reluctant to join Facebook while they gladly joined LinkedIN.

I think at this point Facebook is purely a social networking software. May be a tad better than Myspace/Hi5 but it is really not ready for serious business unless you have some kind of insider track through the venture capitalist who are funding facebook social applications. With their policies constantly in flux let us say some one puts in lots of effort and creates something of value what happens if he/she gets banned for some violation of TOS that is not even spilled out clearly as I noted earlier in the post. There is no appeal process but a computer generated note that is all one will get.

IMHO opinion my advice to the information creators is that distribute your information sources to different web sites to prevent from becoming one service provider too powerful. Just remember that by simply signing for a social networking web site you are adding value to that web site. They are in the business of user aggregation business and selling the click stream data just like the mainstream media that delivers the eyeballs to advertisers through their programming.

Actually if I get banned from Facebook I will not miss anything except few people I met there because I brought my data in to facebook from other sources and it will go out with me when I leave. I added few interesting data to my facebook profile but it is not facebook's data. It will disappear from their site but data stays in the information cloud on the Internet. In fact they will be the losers because I brought my data in and other interesting data that I added to my profile. I added value to the facebook not the other way around. I will not miss fifty requests of mind numbing social application from my FB friends that I really wanted to accept to be a good facebooker but it used to take so long to get through one request or the FB application will crash in the middle that I used to move on to the next request and the spam from the facebook groups I joined.

So the moral of the story is that as a consumer of web information services apply "Buyer the Beware" methodology. Insist on data portability. Do not support a web site that takes every data input in but does not give out any thing in return. In that respect I am all for "Open Social Initiative" and encourage others to read about it and support it. There is no need to give power to one single social application. Select your social application based upon your need and find a good social network aggregation web site to bring all of them in one place. There are friendfeed, Pownce, Iminta, Socialurl and many others but I am am still looking for one that will aggregate all my data, e-mails, IMs, notifications from social networking web sites and keep track of all the websites I signed on or manage at one single locations. Any social networking application that does not play nice in this regards join it for fun but do not spend too much time on it in building anything of value. In fact that this really what they want you do any way. They want your click stream data so provide them with some useless data like the one sales and marketing people want and collect so that can create advertisement that do not make any sense but sell you stuff using subliminal persuasion. That is the theory any way. May work or may not work.

If you want to create a serious business on web consider having your server and managing it because I think Facebook wants lots of users doing nothing serious except exchanging social pleasantries through FB applications. In some ways it is simply an extension of the mainstream media on to the web where the media provider would like viewer to be passive consumer of information while on internet they add interactivity to the same mind numbing entertainment we are so used watching on the main stream media.

On the final note, I am only active on facebook for the last seven or eight weeks and I am glad that this happened so early in my use of Facebook. Imagine the scenario if I had put in some serious effort in developing some application that adds value to FB platform and they tell me to walk away because I violated some TOS that I am not even aware of. Seriously how many of you read TOS when you join one these social networking website? I am still not banned just blocked from not getting any more members so I will be around but will do exactly what FB wants that is to be dumb consumer of mind numbing FB applications till their watch robot decide something else.

3 comments:

Chris Kieff said...

Same thing happened to me, lasted about a week.

Very irritating, but that week gave me time to find other social networks and decide that FB really is one of the best of a bad lot.

You can still ask others to friend you... I'll be your friend ;-)

Good Luck,
Chris

Edouard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edouard said...

Not yet in my case, but thanks for warning;)

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