Tuesday, February 02, 2010

NO BC HST disappears from Facebook for 3 days - what happened to BC's largest group? And why?

- Photo courtesy Lost In Scotland

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

HST Fighting Facebook Group Vanishes

Who, or what, made the 130,000-member 'No BC HST' group blink off for days?

By Bill Tieleman

Please note that is not technically possible to hack a Facebook group."

- Facebook

Who killed British Columbia's biggest Facebook group with over 130,000 members -- NO BC HST -- for three days?

And how was it miraculously brought back to online life, with no explanation from Facebook or notice?

So far, I have no idea, even though I created and administer the protest group against B.C.'s planned seven per cent Harmonized Sales Tax and reported its complete disappearance to Facebook authorities.

It's a disturbing mystery without many clues.

But answers are needed, not just because this group temporarily vanished but because any Facebook group from any political perspective could disappear without a trace too.

In fact, another group I created that has over 8,000 members -- Axe The BC Gas Tax -- has also gone missing and not reappeared by press time. UPDATE - the Facebook group Axe The BC Gas Tax is now back online Tuesday morning!

And so has an Edmonton group of 30,000 members that also vanished on Friday, formed to support a seriously ill baby. UPDATE - that site has now also reappeared.

'We may never find out': expert

One expert is not surprised, nor does he have any comforting advice on how to avoid Facebook group problems.

Dale Jackaman, president of Amuleta Computer Security, says the disappearance of NO BC HST has only three possible explanations. 

"The common link is you, so the question is whether Facebook had a technical issue with your account, or a security issue, or was one of your computers hacked," Jackaman said in an interview late Sunday.

Since this incident I've been scanning all my computers, changing passwords and trying to figure out what went on, without any answers.

But given that two of the five Facebook groups I administer -- the two that are the largest and most damaging to the B.C. Liberals -- were made to disappear, it's hard not to think that it was a politically-motivated attack, not a strange coincidence.

Meanwhile, Jackaman wasn't very encouraging about discovering what happened, based on past experience with Facebook.

"We may never find out. You can try contacting Facebook for security and personal account issues but it's very difficult to do," Jackaman said.

I intend to try, despite the lack of response from Facebook to date -- and to previous media inquiries I made to the Palo Alto, California-based corporation.

BC's biggest Facebook group

But this story is not about me, it's about you.

I've been honoured by the amazing response to NO BC HST since I created it in July 2009, shortly after Premier Gordon Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen made the surprise announcement that B.C. would add an extra 7 per cent tax that will apply to a wide range of goods and services that previously only had a five per cent GST.

It's clear that the phenomenal growth of NO BC HST is solely due to the fact that so many people on Facebook told their friends, family and co-workers to sign up. It had a viral response last summer, with over 1,000 people a day joining.

At over 130,000 members, NO BC HST is actually bigger than the Vancouver Canucks official fan page on Facebook, with just under 121,000 supporters, and much larger than other political pages -- like Campbell's with 2,500 or Hansen's with 300.

What happened on Friday is that someone, somewhere -- either by accident or by malicious intent -- took away the legitimate voice of over 130,000 British Columbians who publicly stated their opposition to the HST, people who included their names and photos in democratically protesting this unfair tax.

This is our online community and we have a right to know it is a safe place that cannot be stolen from us -- not by any technical failures and definitely not by political hackers.

And now you can once again join NO BC HST.



pacific duchess said...

Sounds like major,federal security sweep.
I'm sure there are more then a few comments missing/deleted...?

New sheriff in town!

Anonymous said...

Of course it's the government, there is no end how far they'll go to force feed us their lies.They say if for our benefit but the reality of it is that it's for the benefit of all their rich friends that will continue to support them as long as they can squeeze more money from the poor.
What is really appaling is that same Government gave themselves up to 40,000 dollard pay raise due to the cost of living but refuse to raise the mininum wage , I guest the cost of living doesn't apply if you're poor. Life must be hard for them as I suspect they don't have to pay for to much (i.e gas, food travel expense and such). One day they will be someone who will get the people to wake up and it will be a fight between the rich and the poor and at last count we out-number 300 to 1. That's my rant for today.

Laila Yuile said...

Last year it was brought to my attention that I had a facebook imposter.


Considering I didn't even have a facebook account at the time,it was disturbing to see the extent to which someone had gone to create the profile. Scammed photos of myself taken from the web, false information... and an entire following of middle-eastern followers, some whose profiles revealed extreme militant religious viewpoints!!

In the end,I had to get my lawyers to handle the issue,and although Facebook told me the content of the fake account was offensive, they protected the identity of the fraudster and the content, only to be released to US or Canadian authorities.

In the end, it appears facebook is still more concerned with the privacy of the persons committing such idiocy, rather than the privacy of the accountholder.

I doubt you will get anything from them Bill, unless you involve the RCMP. But definately pursue it regardless. As far as I'm concerned, Facebook needs to be taken to task for what I see as a violation of their own privacy agreements.

Chris Oben said...


I noticed a typo in the description section of the FB info page.

Ordinary British Columbians will pay for the a tax shift of $1.9 billion from big business.

Take out 'the' or 'a' before tax shift.

Good for you to keep after facebook and the powers that be.

Chris O.

Dale Jackaman said...

The most likely reasons for those two groups to go off-line would be technical or security as related to fraud. Facebook is not without its issues on the technological front, but those issues tend to be more of a security nature than a physical hardware or software failure. Facebook and its user base are under constant attack by organised crime for fraudulent purposes, something the usually quite secretive Facebook corporate does not like to talk publicly about.

Take this scenario. Large groups of names, a great cause and the possibility to farm those supportive names with a script file for fraudulent purposes. Organized crime creates a dummy bank account with a handy money laundering “mule,” who in reality is some sucker who thinks he/she is helping out in some legitimate business affair. A Facebook plea is created to exploit the names farmed from the list with exhortations to deposit money in the mule’s bank account in the name of “the cause.” Deposited money is transferred out on-line to various other fake accounts as fast as it comes in and voila, we have ourselves a now very common 21st century cyber crime.

In my line of work, as I’m a private cyber-crime investigator, this is all too common. I dealt with a case last week that involved a much smaller list of names acquired by someone who hacked the Hotmail account of a well to do individual. The faked personal exhortation from the victim of immediate dire financial need caused funds to be dumped into a fraudulently setup bank account in Europe. Unfortunately, regular law enforcement is so backlogged with such cases the victims are pretty much out of luck. It’s good business for me in the private sector, but it’s all too often a matter of being paid to close the door after the horse has long left the barn.

Given the circumstance in this case of disappearing Facebook groups, my best guess would be that Facebook security detected something fishy going on and decided to take the groups off-line until they had determined the cause and provided a fix. But you may never know, and I might not be allowed to tell you.

Anonymous said...

What is going on? Last weekend the Olympic Resistance Network web site also went down?

Anonymous said...

Zero respect for you Bill for writing utter garbage. I think you deleted the group yourself so you can write this stupid story. I'm no PAB worker. I hate politics and won't support your beliefs.

Bill Tieleman said...

Anonymous 2:35 p.m. - I don't care if you do or don't have any respect for me - I have to assume you didn't before this - but to suggest I'd delete BC's largest Facebook group to get publicity is insane!

First of all, Facebook would easily know that and make it public, ruining my reputation for those that do respect me.

Second, why would I risk deleting a group I've spent months creating and building to get a few headlines? That doesn't make any sense either.

Lastly, I can assure you I have been developing ulcers all last weekend worrying about NO BC HST and trying to find out what happened.

And if you don't like politics, what the hell are you doing reading and commenting on my blog?

Anonymous said...

sorry to bust your bubble but Vancouver 2010 has 350,000 members. Blah blah blah you are gonna say how many from BC. Who gives a frack Bill.

Bill Tieleman said...

Wow - instant response - thanks for watching this blog so closely!

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill, I'm anonymous the first today, That's the reason I'm not on facebook or tweeter or whatever other worlwide chat system, It's to easy for hackers to get into it and ruin someone reputation. I'm trying to sign in to your No HST but they want me to get a facebook account . Is there another way I can sign on to it.
No Longer Anonymous :)

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks Barnak - unfortunately there is no way to join NO BC HST except by joining Facebook. The BC NDP have an online petition and there are a few other small anti-HST websites.

You can contact www.FightHST.com directly through their website and join the Initiative campaign though - we need thousands of organizers for the province-wide Initiative signup process - and you don't have to join Facebook or post your name!

Thanks for your support either way!

Anonymous said...

No Problemo Bill, Thanks for the info.

Unknown said...

Hey Bill,

Samuel from hstincanada.com. We will change those polls so they are not as leading. They certainly did not leave much for options.

Thanks for the heads up.


Norm Conrad said...

Facebook is actually yours to use not yours. seems rather a fine point. And it is yours to use for free - if you are referring to money. If however you think it is free again you have been misled. You may use the site with the understanding that you are giving an information clearing house the right to gather, store, manipulate, share control and delete at their sole discretion. Lovely huh.

I suspect large enough enterprises might be able to do business with an information clearing house of the magnitude. I wonder who...

Eyes Wide open.
ladies and Gentlemen
- THe Unimaginable isn't.

Anonymous said...

how do you prevent fake accounts on Facebook to jack up numbers. I'm sure Bill has more than enough time to do this. It's not like he has a real job.

Anonymous said...

facebook and other social medium actually can hurt your cause. Bill's not too smart to understand this. From the initial influx of people joining these groups, it's come to a trickle. 130,000 members. Well there's what 4 million people in this province. Maybe 2.5 million can vote. It doesn't even register in most people's radar. HST less than 5 months away. Bloggers like yuile and tieleman probably work for the Liberals. They deflect the real issues.

Bill Tieleman said...

The last two Anonymouses really cracked me up! First - talk to my wife about how much free time I have to create fake Facebook members!

Ha-ha-ha - and yeah, not just a few but let's say - oh - 50,000?

And yes, you have caught Laila Yuile and I out - we both work for the BC Liberals! I knew it would have to be disclosed some day but who thought it would be because of a super sharp Anonymous posting on my own blog!

I give up - you are too smart for me! Ha-ha-ha again!

Anonymous said...

Actually Bill you truly are the BC Liberals best friend. More so when you say the NDP is not left wing ENOUGH and that really the 90’s was NOT so bad. These types of statements scare the bejesus out of normal folk. Your latest Facebook is out to get you charade is even more humorous. Do you really think the whole word is out to get you Tieleman ?

Laila Yuile said...

Wow Bill,

Who let the Craigslist nutters out on tonight? Oh,no wait... I think I heard something about PAB hiring recently to counter all that bad press the premier is going to be getting in a few weeks.

They really must do something about their minimum job qualification requirements,but then again, that seems to be a problem with many Liberal employees,doesn't it?

Come play over on my blog Anonymous, and we'll see how well I deflect attention from the real issues...

Anonymous said...

I think you should limit your PAB posts to a MAXIMUM of 1 per day. They are funny at first, then annoying, then just sad.

Keep up the pressure. Best, a fan

Bill Tieleman said...

Well played, Anonymous 10:24, well played! The dogs have gone home to their kennel for the night, so I don't expect them back before morning.

Some days I hate having committed to a Free Speech blog - but there you have it - thank goodness for people with your good sense to see through them.

Anonymous said...

Feel sorry for your wife Bill. I would have guess you were into bro-mances. Oh well. This is such a non-story. If you call this journalism or news, you are idiots best friend. Enjoy.

Skookum1 said...

To the troll appearing here as Anonymous 6:04:

130,000 members. Well there's what 4 million people in this province. Maybe 2.5 million can vote.

yeah, but only 1.2 million DID, and only a little under half of those voted Liberal. So 130,000 is above 10% of the actual people who voted last time....and many of them probably voted Liberal, and have now switched their position due to the double-cross on the HST and other post-election position reversals.

In fact, that you're posting such stupid nonsense here - attack posts one after the other - is a clear indication you view those 130,000 people as a threat; otherwise why bother?

DPL said...

Always interesting to read the articles and of course the closer they get to upsetting the powers in the province, the more strident some of the annons become. Most folks realize a lot of people live in BC and a lot of them don't own computers and even less even know how to get onto Facebook. In my view when 130,000 do get involved that the numbers are significant.

a change of pace. Check the Reaside cartoon in the T/C today, it shows Gordo at his best. Getting publicity on our dimes

Rod Smelser said...

I wouldn't know how to contact Facebook HQ in the first place if I had a problem with my account.

It's a useful way for friends to share news and photos and videos, and it can be a useful PR and organizing tool for the same reasons. The Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament certainly showed that.

But indeed, who owns it? Who runs it? Who are they? It's something few people have even asked, let alone gotten an answer to.

Anonymous said...

Oh god. The facebook page who likes spaghetti o's is missing. Must be fraud. Death penalty to the offender. Where is the FBI? This is the worst news ever.

Atlantic Canada Loves HST said...

funny skookum. that just shows most people don't care. Must just kill types like you that no one really gives a rats about topics that are important to you. most of it is because the garbage that is written by people like Tieleman. Part of the problem, definitely no solutions. Enjoy HST.

Anonymous said...

MR.TIELMMAN, run for politics<I'd vote for you in a heart beat!I've had enough of crooked bastards,look at some of those idiotic comments you get.Either they like getting it up the a$$,or their,giving it to us,so mo folkker 2:35 which are you?and all others like that I just don't get it?they rape and pillage and you love it?your a masochist!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:05,have you ever watched can west a.k.a canned waste global?

I'm Laila and I have no clue said...

this has become a common trend mr Tieleman. Faking your own break-in. Now facebook. What a waste ot time. Great way to make up a story.

Anonymous said...


The Gordon Campbell makeover campaign

SharingIsGood said...

Rod Smelser got me wondering, "What really is Facebook, so, here's Wikipedia's take on Facebook:

Anonymous said...

I talked to the RCMP today that Bill Tieleman thinks a crime has been committed when his facebook group disappeared. The corporal said tell him to call them. They can put him in a cell and make something disappear. They know who he is. Taxpayer money hard at work.

Laila said...

Gee Bill, seems some of your 'anonymous' trolls have issues with me as well, if the handle "I'm Laila and I have no clue" is any indication...hehe. Gotta admire their creativity, if nothing else.

Skookum1 said...

Wow, the hate-mailers are increasing their stridency - "must be killed" etc. from "Atlantic Canada loves the HST" (which is real funny because most people I've met here in NS resent it quite a bit). Posts like "Atlantic Canada's" not only verge on threats and hate crimes, but they also speak to the core of the kind of people who support regimes like Gordon Campbell's. Any means necessary to silence and defame the opposition.

This is beyond fascism. It's gangsterism and thuggery.

Skookum1 said...

And Bill, I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that among the originating IP addresses of the many bullying posts now showing up here was one that might prove to be where the hack that deleted the group came from.....nothing must irk the bully-jerk who attacked the group than to see it so easily restored. And yeah, criminals do return to the scene of the crime, especially if they didn't cause as much damage as they hoped. Bullies often don't know when to leave well enough alone......

DPL said...


Thursday. a real supporter of the circus. wonder what the Gordo supporters will make of such a system of pins?

Deep Throat said...

So Bill, it would seem that the anger, frustration quotient against those who would question the ethics of the “powers that be” has reached an unusually high level.

On a related note, I thought it therefore an appropriate time to remind your readers where we stand today with respect to Railgate.

In this regard, your readers may recall my last post on your blog of October 1st, 2009 wherein I related to your readers a conversation that was overheard between the Premier and George Copley…so here it is again verbatim and I would ask your readers to pay close attention to the first four sentences of paragraph eight:

“Mr. Premier, its George Copley can I take a few minutes of your time?

Uh, okay but do we really need to have a discussion?

Yes, and unfortunately a very serious discussion.

Okay, okay let’s have it…but first let me call in Martyn Brown and in the process let me get a drink!

Okay, so I read this week that the new judge wants to speed up the process by having a December 1st hearing on the defence’s application that the accused's Charter rights have been violated by not having their trial heard within reasonable time limits. And I also read Palmer’s rather innocuous take on the matter – which I liked.

So what’s the big deal?

Don’t you see? She isn’t just trying to demonstrate that she is taking control. She is also “setting the stage” to “smoke us out”!

As you may recall and on your instructions, we have still not complied with all the Court’s disclosure Orders and as you may recall in February of last year Berardino had a hard time in Court not pointing the finger at us. So, I simply cannot be asked by you to defend to the Court your instructions. I can’t go in like Berardino and say that I am “working hard” to secure the documents. I would look like a disingenuous fool! And aside from pointing out this obvious failure to disclose as well as more embarrassing facts coming out about the “lost” e-mails, I am also sure that Mr. Bolton will have some other damaging “bombshells” to drop directed right at you.

In my opinion Mr. Premier, he will paint a very comprehensive and damaging picture…So, what do you want me to do?

That b#^*h!

Okay, okay but isn’t the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on the “secret” witness expected to be out within the month?

Yes, that’s true Mr. Premier.

…Okay George, thanks for your advice. Let me think about and I will get back to you…

Well Martyn, I guess we could just keep trying to “tough it out” in the hopes that it goes away as Palmer suggests…but I must admit that it tires me greatly as it is in my mind all the time…

Or perhaps we should “hope” that someone will tell Berardino to “pull the plug” as he said he might once the Supreme Court has ruled against us.

But if that happens we will then need to find a way to avoid a public inquiry at all costs. Do you understand Martyn? At all costs…

But then again, I guess we will have to eventually “cross that bridge” when we come to it…

Martyn could you close the door on your way out?” (End of quote)

Given that as we speak the disclosure issues are now being resolved, it is clear that the Premier’s lawyers can no longer hold off the inevitable.

Nor can his last great delusion of grander the Olympics save him, after all and as your readers will perhaps remember, going to China did not save Nixon.

For the emperor who has no clothes…the clock is now ticking a lot faster!

pacific duchess said...

can you comment on anon. 11:24.

Anonymous said...

To Atlantic Canada Loves HST.
That's good that you love the HST, keep it where it is but don't try to sell it to us. You must be one of those business man (or woman) who racks it up on the back of the poor. to Quote a Missouri saying "Don't pee down my back and tell me it's raining." It's hard enough here working at a minimum wage and not able to get ahead and being promise by a Prime Minister that he won't Harmonize both tax if we vote for him and him getting voted back in and doing exactly the opposite of what he promise. I guess he must have been drunk when he made that speech and forgot about it, OH Yeah he is on the wagon (apparently.) Barnak.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bill, I'm not very fond of The United States but one thing that I like about their Justice system is that their Judges are elected not appointed by a friend in high place. I wish we could do the same cause I'd vote for the most bloodthirsty of them all and show some criminal that when they get 20yrs they do 20 years, no crap like time served and out in a few month for good behaviour or because they found God. Tell that to the dead victims or the one that's been raped or scared for life because who felt incline to commit a crime.Go to the Middle East and look how they take care of thieves and rapist, they don't get many chance to do it again. Two rants in a row, that's enough for me . Have a great week-end Bill and to the person that threw in Bill's wife into his moronic attack, way to go pal, real classy. Barnak.

Bill Tieleman said...

Sorry Pacific Duchess - I can't find that comment - please repeat your request with the question you have.

Anonymous said...

Wow Bill, great journalism! You managed to cover the biggest scandal of the century. Surely this must have involved top levels of government, all attempting to shut your facebook groups. Technical errors be damned, surely the BC Liberals were able to strong arm Facebook into shutting down your groups.

Since you were able to unravel this one, maybe you can help me. I was typing a scathing review of my university's food services when the power to my house went out (AND I LOST THE DOCUMENT!!!!!) Do you think that the university teamed up with the catering company, or was it solely the work of the catering company? Or maybe a third party?

Anonymous said...

Hey Bill, I just find it amazing how people who have nothing to do but waste their time (and ours)going into blogger sites and say stupid things (i.e. anonymous11:20.)I'm a hard working person who didn't much care about politic before, my philosophy of it was "Oh well it's the price we have to pay for democracy".But now for the past two election I see that it's not democracy but hypocracy that seems to come up ahead. Shady dealing behing closed door, missing e-mail that dissapeared, promises broken, more tax break for the rich and more tax put on the back of the regular class and poor people. Mr Campbell I use to beleive in you and now I beleive that everything you say is a lie and you'll never get my vote again. That's my rant for today Good day to you Bill and all other bloggers on this site. Barnak