I saw the above screen after writing on my friend Trevor’s Facebook wall, wishing him a happy birthday. I apparently need to stop doing that, as I am clearly abusing their system…because the only time I have to write on walls these days are to write people and wish them a happy birthday. That’s what you DO on Facebook. (I even suck about that, and I know I’ve missed some peoples’ days, and for that, I humbly apologize.) For reference, here’s my wall post frequency, per my News Feed.
I hit my profile a couple times a day, and largely lurk. I don’t use Facebook chat, and I generally lay low regardless. I only come out of the woodwork for birthdays. Something is seriously wrong here. Two of my followers on Twitter have also had issues with Facebook labeling them as abusers, so I’m wondering if their detection mechanisms have gone out of whack. (For the record, I was able to make a different wall post to another friend with no problem.)
Two things here have struck a serious nerve with me. One, the outright “you are spamming Facebook” line. That’s ludicrous. The wording is combative and doesn’t offer the user much hope of reaching a resolution, as it deposits you on an FAQ page that just says “stop spamming” without giving somebody the opportunity to clear their name. Second of all, their rate limits aren’t advertised. I’ll take some of the mystery out: it apparently is sending more than one “Happy Birthday” wall post to more than one friend every two weeks. This is very Comcastian in nature, where you can be shut down for hitting an arbitrary rate limit that they won’t put in writing a la Dave Winer.
The “guilty until proven innocent” crap just has to stop. I understand wanting to shut down spammers, but some of these measures have put a real chill in how I’m going to use Facebook from here on out, which is to say not much at all. The tendency in society to put a serious chill on things has really gotten on my last nerve, but that’s a post for another day. I’ve definitely taken a decentralizing approach with much of their services: Flickr for photos, FriendFeed can help me keep up with what people are up to, and I have Twitter for far better status. Oh, and good ol’ fashioned e-mail is much more effective than the Facebook messaging system. Yeah, I don’t have “walls” to write on but I suppose that’s what good ol’ fashioned phone calls are for. If Facebook is going to continue to try to chill usage of their service with a wayward abuse detection system, then I have to say, my repeat traffic numbers are going to go way down. This is Shark Jumping 101 right here. It’s about as effective as suing your customers (see RIAA); it doesn’t work.