After being blocked by Facebook from sending friend requests, David Fagin has decided to sue the company for…a dollar.
It sounds silly, but Fagin, actually brings up some fairly interesting points. He even went so far as to issue a press release. It begins:
There aren’t too many words that exist in Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary that conjure up more offensive and sleazy images than that of a “spammer.” It’s pretty much the equivalent of an online pickpocket or con artist.
Nonetheless, the first time David Fagin saw he was being blocked from sending friend requests on Facebook, as well as being labeled a spammer, he didn’t think much of it. Then, when it happened again, and he was informed that he was in danger of having his account deleted, he tried to resolve it by reaching out to Facebook’s support department – only to discover they don’t have one.
He also put out an opinion piece for AOL News, where he included the above screenshot of messages he received from the social network. “When Facebook labels you a spammer, the first thing you must do before you’re allowed to use the site again is go through a humiliating ‘checklist’ of boxes, in which you’re forced to admit you’ve been a bad boy and promise not to do it again,” he writes. “I, like many others, have no life, and sometimes spend hours a day on Facebook. So tell me, what is the point of a feature that hits you with dozens of friend suggestions every hour, then clamps down on you and treats you like a registered sex offender when you take them up on it? Isn’t what they’re doing, for all intents and purposes, entrapment?”
I’m no lawyer but getting rejected from the site and unjustly being labeled a spammer would almost seem a bit libelous. Nobody wants to do business with a spammer.
“Some might say ‘What’s the big deal? It’s just a stupid social networking site,” he says. But, when you’re talking about arguably the biggest online presence the world has ever seen, one that’s currently worth more than Microsoft, and there’s no way to reach a live human being, that might be something for the FTC and/or congress to at least think about.”
The worth more than Microsoft thing has been questioned, but that’s not to say he doesn’t have a valid point. Facebook is becoming more and more a directory of where to find a person or a business online. It’s huge and growing. “Half the world now uses Facebook as a primary means of communication,” Fagin writes. “With the other half surely to follow by next Tuesday. So, If you don’t think being threatened with banishment from Facebook is a big deal, try to imagine what it would be like to live in the ’70s and be accused of making phony phone calls and banned from using AT&T.”
He says (despite the link to let the company know in the message at the top) he was unable to reach a human about the issue. Some of these big Internet companies are notorious for the difficulty involved with getting them to hear complaints, even when said complaints are completely valid. Certainly plenty of people have had similar issues with Google, but Facebook’s whole existence is based on communication and friendships. It couldn’t hurt to be a little more open on the support side of things.
It’s not like they can’t afford a team to handle support in an adequate fashion. WebProNews and parent company iEntry aren’t anywhere near the size of a Facebook or a Google, but we do have millions of subscribers, and our modestly sized team (compared to these giants) is able to respond to any emails they get with support-related issues.
“It’s not just the support issue, either,” Fagin said. “Facebook is actively contradicting their own policies. On one hand, they tell you not to ‘friend’ anyone you don’t already know. On the other, the site constantly bombards you with names of people that Facebook themselves suggests you should ‘friend’, as you already have multiple friends in common. This also runs in direct contradiction with the spammer label. If everyone on the site is only supposed to be friends with people they know, then everyone is a spammer. As, no one knows two thousand six hundred and eighty-eight people, personally. Not even Donald Trump. Not to mention, Facebook wants you to connect with as many people as possible. That’s how they get their advertisers salivating; by everyone ‘sharing’ and ‘liking’ their favorite things. Only being connected to thirty-six people doesn’t really do much for the folks at Coke or Starbucks. But a thousand connections, who can all spider off to another thousand, now that’s viral marketing at its finest.”
Clearly, Fagin’s whole suit is simply to make a point – hence the $1.00 amount. The story’s probably already picked up enough coverage in the press for that point to have been heard. Whether or not it will have an impact remains to be seen. Facebook certainly has plenty of more pressing legal matters to attend to: