Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why would Facebook want to kill NO BC HST - province's largest Facebook protest group - and anger members?

Mark Zuckerberg f8 Keynote
Facebook creator & CEO Mark Zuckerberg - is resistance futile?                         - Brian Solis photo

Facebook Aims to "Archive" One of Its Largest BC Groups

NO BC HST has 125,000 Facebook members, but not for long it seems

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours newspaper/The Tyee online column

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

By Bill Tieleman 
"The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook, is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently." 
- Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder
Why would Facebook want to kill B.C's largest Facebook protest group, with over 125,000 members, and one of the province's biggest Facebook groups overall?

Search me, it makes no sense. I created the group -- NO BC HST -- back in July 2009.

But today's column isn't about the Harmonized Sales Tax, it's about Facebook’s bloody-minded disregard for its users that's forcing many to bail out of the giant social network.

What Facebook is doing it calls "archiving" some groups but "upgrading" others to a new format.

Problem is, only Facebook gets to decide if you are eligible to upgrade and if you are archived, your group loses all its members. And Facebook is killing groups with as many as a million members.

In the United States, a Facebook group called "Barack Obama (One Million Strong For Barack)" has 989,421 members but is being archived.

As a result the group creators set up a Facebook "page" to replace it -- and currently just 1,784 people "like" it.

Changes like these may explain why in Canada in May alone Facebook lost 1.52 million users -- that's eight per cent of the still amazing 16.6 million Canadians who use the service.

Facebook also lost six million users in the United States, dropping from 155.2 million to 149.4 million.

And that was before this month's radical new design changes to Facebook that has generated outragefrom many users.

That Zucks!

So why does Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg keep getting in people's faces?

And will Facebook eventually turn into the online version of an 8-track tape? Already Twitter has become a powerful alternative and Google has just launched Google+, a new service directly aimed at disgruntled Facebook users.

Zuckerberg is a genius, no question, and worth $17.5 billion at just age 27.

Facebook claims to have signed up 800 million users worldwide since it launched in 2004 and has an estimated market value of a cool $50 billion.

But that doesn't mean Zuckerberg can't make huge mistakes. Just ask Enron or WorldCom, if you can find them.

Message from HQ

Back here in B.C., I have politely tried to convince Facebook not to "archive" NO BC HST since I found out about its plans in May.

At the top of NO BC HST was ominous news.

Clicking "Learn More" I found this friendly message:

"Things that will NOT be available in the archived version include:
• Recent news
• Group officer titles
• The info box under the old group picture
• The group network
• The members of your old group."

Oh, is that all -- just lose all your members. The message continued:

"If your old group has enough recent activity to make it a good candidate for a new group, you will see a message at the top of the group with the option to upgrade."

But no upgrade option was offered.

So Facebook was told that NO BC HST -- which I created to oppose then premier Gordon Campbell's plan to impose the HST -- went viral in B.C., growing at a phenomenal rate of more than 6,000 members a day to peak at over 136,000.

(That interest was further confirmed when I helped found Fight HST with former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm, ex-Unity Party leader Chris Delaney and others to eventually launch the successful citizens initiative petition signed by 705,000 British Columbians.)

The current 125,000 members compares very favourably to other B.C.-based Facebook groups.

What appears to be B.C.'s biggest group -- though members could be anywhere in the world -- is the Vancouver Canucks Facebook page with 618,521 fans.

A page called "Beautiful British Columbia" but not connected to the magazine has 160,377, while the BC Lions official Facebook page has 37,158 supporters. Premier Christy Clark has a Facebook page too, with 3,942 fans.

Facebook was also made aware that NO BC HST is a very active group, with thousands of posts from members in the lead-up to the referendum vote and beyond.

(They may have already known that after NO BC HST disappeared completely for three days in Jan. 2010 and became a news story. Facebook then declined to talk to me but eventually told media here that it was merely a "technical" issue.)

But it was all to no avail. Facebook wasn't listening or helping "people connect and communicate more efficiently."

Facebook's official response was -- too bad.

Face the Wall

"We are currently migrating various Facebook Groups into a new format that makes it easier to communicate with smaller sets of people. During this process, some groups will be given the opportunity to upgrade into the new design while others will need to re-create their groups," said a June 1 email from Kelly Ornelas, a Toronto communications consultant working for Facebook.

"We determined what groups to archive based on a number of factors, including the amount of recent activity. We encourage people who are trying to engage with large numbers of people to create Pages," Ornelas wrote.

But there was some good news, at least from Facebook's twisted perspective.

"However, the HST referendum vote is scheduled for June 24, which is before the Group is scheduled to be archived," Ornelas concluded, referring to the original balloting end date that was later extended.

Well, thanks for that. I had explained that Facebook killing NO BC HST during the vote would be a really big story and appear to be an intervention on one side of the referendum.

In a telephone call June 15, Ornelas suggested that I could: "Post a message on your Wall telling members you're starting a new group."

Sure, that will work well. See what happened to Obama's group!

Or perhaps I could ask Zuckerberg to next invent a time machine so I can go back to July 2009 and set up a non-Facebook page that won't be subject to his whims.

And to pour salt in the wounds, the pro-HST group YES BC HST with all 408 members, including several BC Liberal MLAs -- isn't being archived. They got picked for the upgrade.

You will be assimilated, er, archived

But at least I'm not alone in being totally frustrated that Facebook, which is a great social network despite itself, is intentionally alienating group creators and members for no obvious benefit.

One huge Facebook group is sending Zuckerberg that message. Called "We Hate The New Facebook, so STOP CHANGING IT!!!", it was set up in 2008 when the first annoying set of tweaks was introduced and now has 1,541,806 members.

I would suggest that you join up but guess what? It's also being "archived" and those members will disappear shortly.



Anonymous said...

I think all the groups were given the option to transfer over to the new format. And as an admin I guess you missed out on that. Now they probably assume since you didnt read the message at the top of the group that was up for three months, that the group is no longer active. Which makes sense, since the HST issues is over, and even you never went to the group page to see whats going on with it, facebook might as well just delete it...

Anonymous said...

I deleted my account yesterday when I learned that Facebook is planning on creating a political action committee (PAC). I thought this was to be a social networking site, not a social engineering site.

Anonymous said...

Bill, I really enjoy your blog and agree with probably 90% of your postings here, but this is ridiculous. You are clearly letting on here that you know absolutely nothing about IT/software/websites/servers. The group is very old and created under an obsolete format, and facebook is attempting to remove that code from their servers entirely, to clean it up and optimize. Therefore, they need to get rid of old groups. There's no agenda, there's no conspiracy, it's simply being a good web admin/server engineer. I can't believe you wrote an entire post on this.

Anonymous said...

Bill Tieleman is ranting and raving again without any facts... will he once again try to waste our time and money? Facebook announced it was phasing out groups long before this year, it was announced to people making new groups for the past 15 months for those who were smart enough to read it. Groups were allowed to make the change to being a page long ago, those that did not, will simply dissappear. Bill Tieleman uses such lies and dis-information against the people here in BC, and users on facebook constantly. When will we wake up and start trusting facts instead of Bill?

Anonymous said...

Bill T hates the new facebook rules because they will not allow him to continue to mute and erase posts and ideas he does not agree with. Freedom always wins Bill.

Ken in Victoria said...

Dear Mr. Tieleman.
First of all, let me state that I read your article but do not understand. I must assume, this is some form of censorship. I belong to the "Tweeting" society and that is enough. I am not a social animal. In fact, I am a social outcast and I like it that way. However, if there is a concern by " No HST" members, than I can be concerned.
As my Oak Bay girlfriend is a Face Book man, I will consult with her and offer a better opinion as to this situation.
Let me state social networking has a place in the lives of the population. If used properly, the results can be of great benefit i.e. the HST vote.

Keith in America said...

ya i dun liek wut fb is doin recently... they put up so many bad features. wtf is this stupid new messaging layout and dis new "home page" shiet.

i totally agree bill... fcking disrespectful

Anonymous said...

And that's another reason why I don't do Farcebook. Ever.

Facebook is a dictator's wet dream.

And Zuch has made a Suckerman out of everyone, all the while doing the bidding of his corporate government pals, like... China to whom he "capitulated" to give up privacy.

Bill Tieleman said...

Anon 7:31 p.m. - No. Read the links - read my column. Only groups chosen by Facebook got the option to "upgrade". NO BC HST did not.

Anon 9:09 p.m. - Really? What's your favourite column here then? Why do I not believe your claims? Why does Facebook give some groups the "upgrade" option then - why not eliminate the old format for all groups? I didn't say it was a conspiracy against anti-HST supporters - or Barack Obama supporters - I said Facebook is disrespecting the users who made Zuckerberg a billionaire.

Anon 9:26 and 9:29 are the same person - with little to add. Any Facebook group with over 5,000 members cannot email them - that's the rule. I have no way of even telling NO BC HST members about a new "Page" if I set one up. And anyone who has read this blog regularly knows I allow almost all comments - even slagging me - other than those that are clearly libelous, obscene or in bad taste.

Ken & Keith - thanks for your posts.

To critics - address the issues all the other Facebook groups also are affected by - it isn't about the HST or me - it's about Facebook.

Anonymous said...

Youre mising one point out of many.

First, Facebook is a company, it is not a public free for all. Space is limited (ulitmately), and needs to be turned over.

It is also a service. If you undertake that service, you agree to their terms of operating that service.

160,000 or so respondents over a current volume of 750 million worldwide is not much, not even 1% of the total.

Also consider that the NO BC HST issue is outdated. There is no current aspects regarding its removal (already passed that point).

If the group is no longer active, why would it be at the forefront?

NO BC HST has had its day in the sun.
It is very easy to keep all of the entries yourself as an archived series of pages for you to cherish and to keep.

and now its time to move on.

Kareem in Kenya said...

Oh boo hoo. An obsolete group on a free site is being archived. Let's have a big cry about it. Pathetic...

Anonymous said...

some people still a little bitter about their big HST loss
anon9:26 and kareem should have a big cry and go attack John Cummins

Anonymous said...

It seems like when anybody get's rich or elected.they have the God given right to bend you over,and by our vote or choice.go figure,but when push comes to shove....is it just me or could you feel the tension in this province?

NeoDude said...

"To critics - address the issues all the other Facebook groups also are affected by - it isn't about the HST or me - it's about Facebook."

When you're right, you're right Bill. It IS about Facebook. The key point then being - "Who cares?"

Let Zuckerberg do whatever he wants with his toy (like you have a choice). You don't like the "new" Facebook, don't play with it. What did you do before Facebook? Good answer, now go and do it again.

Of course you won't be able to talk about how many tens of thousands of people that have "joined" an imaginary group that you created. I'm sure many losers were thrilled to see that massive number you kept printing as it increased but it was completely unimpressive.

On the other hand, saying "I'm not interested in Zuckerberg dictating how I ought to interact socially so I'm just saying to hell with Facebook" - now that has always impressed me.

Btw, does this column mean that you have given up discussing politics because you finally realized you don't have a clue? That would also impress me.

Dave McPherson said...

facebook is a medium of communication and should act responsibly and fairly or be called to task for doing otherwise

thanks Bill for doing so

those that think anything is okay to print or block or muzzle... by decisions of the unelected owners in our society deserve to live in the dark ages with the Lords calling all the shots

btw the HST debate is not over. I am reminded every time I buy anything.

millions of dollars continue to flow out of our pockets and into federal and provincial coffers long after the democratic vote was taken

we wonder will they delay the elimination of it until after the promised date...who had the power to choose the date and will they extend it? .....do we trust them not to?

Bill Tieleman said...

Oh NeoDude - how we have all missed your bitter presence! I hope Green supporters like you get out in the sunshine and brighten up a little.

As to if I am giving up "discussing politics because you finally realized you don't have a clue" - priceless!

STV 2005 - defeated. STV 2009 - overwhelming defeated. Gordon Campbell - gone. HST - walking the Green Mile to oblivion.

Don't worry - more to come on the outrageously expensive Smart Meters that may also be a health hazard.

Even your Green Party finally figured that out - after initially supporting them, Jane Sterk and Adriane Carr now vigorously oppose them.

Kareem in Kenya said...

Anonymous Wednesday, 28 September, 2011 1:50:00 PM PDT said:
"anon9:26 and kareem should have a big cry"

Hahaha are you kidding me! Have you read the article? Bill is the one having the "big cry"!

Anonymous said...

Bill, it is time to start editing posts.

Once your blog has become you and a PAB having a private mean spirited conversation (no meanness coming from you) - it is time to edit.

PRC said...

I agree. Censorship is the solution to all problems.

Ken in Victoria said...

Dear Mr. Tieleman:
You are a lightning rod for people with the anti NDP slant. They do not comment on the comments but prefer to attack the messenger,YOU.Let it be known that their attacks only enhance your reputation and add vitality to your comments.Now, how can I state a comment in order to be attacked?
Well, I feel that the anti HST group should remain in contact. The HST is not over, I am sure Mrs. Clark will attempt to reintroduce it at the next election. Her back room girls and boys will always reward the big business interests that donate the big money.
Finally, as my GF is on face book, I asked her opinion. She does not have a opinion.

Anonymous said...

Record IP's and only allow one trolling post per pab. This would allow their paid 'free speech' and we would only have to actively ignore 200 or so posts (200+ employed as f / t pabs)...

Anonymous said...

Record IP's and only allow one trolling post per pab. This would allow their paid 'free speech' and we would only have to actively ignore 200 or so posts (200+ employed as f / t pabs)...

Will come in handy when the NDP becomes goverment. Wouldn't want all that comment puffery about how good the NDP is.

and who is "we"?? There is only one person that runs this thing.

Anonymous said...

Well, I feel that the anti HST group should remain in contact. The HST is not over, I am sure Mrs. Clark will attempt to reintroduce it at the next election.

WOuld be hard to do if the NDP wins government, but it would be interesting to see if the NDP repeats its taxation increase concepts like they did in the 1990s.

Her back room girls and boys will always reward the big business interests that donate the big money.

Just as the Big Labour unions and Sinclair does the same thing for the NDP.

Finally, as my GF is on face book, I asked her opinion. She does not have a opinion

She is smart. Follow that advice 8-)

Anonymous said...

Once your blog has become you and a PAB having a private mean spirited conversation (no meanness coming from you) - it is time to edit.

Especially when the PABs from the NDP future government come crawling in like bedbugs.

PeterInEdmonton said...

I was a bit slow in catching up on your column because ironically, Facebook had decided to disable my profile. Bill, you should feel priviledged that you actually an email from a consultant associated with Facebook. I filled in their form and got a couple of form emails in response to my queries.

It appears that I got disabled because I ignored requests to supply a mobile number and possibly because I am an infrequent user. The first form email asked me to scan an image of my photo ID and email it to them! When I complained that I didn't want to risk doing that over unsecured email, I got another form email, that I could mask out the sensitive information, just as long as they could see my name, picture and birthday. Also some vague instructions about using a secure connection, which I think implied that I could set my (disabled) ID to use secure browsing.

I emailed back that I would prefer to stay disconnected. In response, I was spammed several times with repetitions of the form email.

I'm glad that I did not send them my mobile number, as I would have been spammed with text messages to my cell (which would cost me according to my discount cell plan).

Am I partcilulary mad at Spambook, er Facebook. Not really - I am getting the support that I paid for.

I note that you say that your group is "going to be archived" - that it has not yet. That means that it has done its job and would, I presume, lapse into inactivity. That's unless you have a quote from the Clark administration that she plans to run on it as an issue in the next election.

It sounds like they are trying to implement Hierarchical Storage Management - move files to less high quality storage over time, then eventually delete them. That could be a problem for the historical record. Maybe you should organize a "Stop the HSM" group.

DPL said...

I know just about nothing concerning Facebook, but got steered to The Flight Engineers Lament.It was funny, and led to other aircraft stuff.( I was a F/E both military and civil, for a lot of years). I found myself as some one I should "friend". Stuff on there sure gets passed around. But to drop a group of over 100,000 is rather weird to me.

Dixie Normous said...

To PeterInEdminton: I really appreciate your long post. I found the contents stimulating and quite sensational. What really perked my attention was Facebook erecting this new policy on mobile phones. I do believe that such a system will beat off many customers because people like me do not use phones much (I prefer person to person contact). Though I do not think Facebook is not fapulous per say, it is definitely encroaching in areas and with a pace that I do not feel comfortable with.

PeterInEdmonton said...

Thanks, Dixie. The saga continues. Last night, I got a further email from "Barry in User Operations" stating that my ID had been disabled by mistake and to get back to him if I have trouble logging on.

I believe this, but I won't be logging back on for a while. First, I want to see if they spam me further, urging me to log on. Second, I got a number of congratulatory emails from my (real) friends when I announced that I did not care to proceed further, so I feel a bit ashamed to go back in. Third, I'm busy trying to get some work out of the way so that I can pop down to the coast and visit (real) friends - including Bill.

I do believe that I was deactivated by mistake. I could do some interesting speculation as to why they made that mistake - I suspect my low activity level was a big factor. They did accurately detect and toast a bunch of extra fake profiles created by a teen friend of mine for play purposes. Maybe enough of Bill's 125,000 group members turned out to be fake that it triggered the archive algorithm. Or maybe its very size triggered a quick check by somebody offshore who doesn't know HST from chipped beef and doesn't care. Large groups may consume large amounts of storage and server activity and may constitute "low hanging fruit" if it has an apparent expiry date. I don't know and neither does Bill - Spambook isn't going let that out.
Looks like Spambook is struggling to take their business to the next level. If I log back in I still won't supply my Mobile phone to them, as I learned from a teenage friend that they do indeed send text messages to her. She's on a teen text plan so spends X amount per month for her 100 texts per day so it does not bother her. Its 20 cents per spam for my cheap geezer plan.

I'll wait a week or so and then try it and will post an update here.

PeterInEdmonton said...

Well, I did promise I would add an update, although I'd surprised if anybody besides Bill would wind up reading this.

I did successfully log back in again, but I don't seem to be able to do much. Most things that I try seem to cause me to get into some sort of weird grayed-out state. I tried to post something about myself to the effect that I would not be using Facebook much in future. I'm not sure if it took. I don't much care at this point. I did not miss it much in the past week.