More Tech sites hit with Facebook IP claims flaw

Our friends over at Redmond Pie have also been suffering similar issues to us, although theirs was a bit more malicious, and if you're a regular reader of their page, you’re most likely to know that their Facebook page is inaccessible. To put it simple: You can disable and/or hack any Facebook page that you may like by requesting Facebook user operations support to help you through it.

Folks at CrunchGear think Facebook imperfectly complies with DMCA only when Facebook delayed restoration of Facebook group on counter claim. What exactly would you call it if you don’t even have the choice to counter a complaint?

Our (combined) efforts to resolve this:

  • We told Facebook that reports originate from third party email service providers and not from reporter’s own TLD.
  • We told Facebook that we have checked with USPTO database and the complaint registered is invalid but they refused to look into that.
  • We have written to Facebook support with legal proofs of our ownership and Facebook decided to ignore them.
  • We have asked Facebook (after restoration) to please preserve our page from such future fake claims but they ignored it.
  • We have written to Facebook that we will have to write about this matter here if they don’t stop closing our page but Facebook refused to stop.

As for our case, Facebook have not responded to the email requesting information on why the page was taken down, even though it's perfectly within our rights to request the information. Facebook also says that they will delete the content of repeat offenders, in our case, the "offenders" are the people making the bogus complaint, not us!

Below is our communication with Facebook, as yet no reply:

Response

Hi,

Can you tell me why the page was shut off and who made the claim?

I am the page administrator of http://www.facebook.com/Neowin the creator (hidden) is no longer a staff member at Neowin.

Thanks in advance

Steven Parker
www.neowin.net

Original email

From: Facebook
Date: 26 April 2011 22:13:59 GMT+01:00
To: hidden
Subject: Facebook warning
Reply-To: Facebook

Hello,

We have removed or disabled access to the following content that you have posted on Facebook because we received a notice from a third party that the content infringes or otherwise violates their rights:

Fbpage: Neowin

We strongly encourage you to review the content you have posted to Facebook to make sure that you have not posted any other infringing content, as it is our policy to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers when appropriate.

If you believe that we have made a mistake in removing this content, then please visit http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=1108 for more information.

The Facebook team

Read how it unfolded for Redmond Pie, here.

Disclaimer: Redmond Pie studied a lot of cases of Facebook pages that accumulated over a million fans to reach this conclusion. This article has been written in hope to bring the issue to light in hope to enforce Facebook to change their policies. None of this information has been provided to be misused in a similar offense.

Update: We've also caught the attention of Violet blue over at ZDNet. Thanks Vi!

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52 Comments

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Personally, i think this is starting to take the form where a Class Action Lawsuit needs to be initiated. By class-action ,i mean the people at Redmond Pie, ArsTechnica, Neowin, and whoever else this is affecting.
Otherwise, i see facebook is not going to admit any wrongdoing or change practices.

Easy, create an email and report ip claims from every senator, governor and any US politicians. They will be so angry that Facebook will have to changes rules before US do it itself!

Sounds like a new moderator of Facebook did this and now is ignoring the emails on purpose. I am surprised as they don't even ask for the Facebook profile of the person who reports it. Even no email confirmation.

I'd like to see how this would turn out to be.

Mario Max said,
let's report Justin Bieber's page then

Might as well report Rebecca Black and every other crappy pop, hip-hop, and rap star with no talent and auto-tune to give everyone false impressions they actually have any talent.

Again... everyone here should protest facebook and delete all their personal pages and such and never use it again. Start a backwards trend and not feed the monster rather than complain but next tab you open is facebook.

sava700 said,
Again... everyone here should protest facebook and delete all their personal pages and such and never use it again. Start a backwards trend and not feed the monster rather than complain but next tab you open is facebook.

done already. my account has been deleted (not deactivated).

sava700 said,
Again... everyone here should protest facebook and delete all their personal pages and such and never use it again. Start a backwards trend and not feed the monster rather than complain but next tab you open is facebook.

You do realize that Neowin alone accounts for maybe 0.0000000000001 of all Facebook users in the world. Suggesting everyone here deletes their Facebook accounts is dumb, it wouldn't even make a small ping in Facebooks massive steel and concrete walls, never mind getting Facebook to listen or look into the issue.

geoken said,
I think a DMCA takedown of CNN's page would get this situation in the limelight.

no, Fox news because then it would be a vast left wing conspiracy

I have a weird feeling this could blow up into the next great extortion scheme. Here's the scenario:

A page gets pulled, and a specific email is making the complaint. You email them, and they say "Yes! The content is ours! And for $50 over [name payment service], you can have the licenses and we'll restore your page."

Hello,
When I was 2 I drew a picture of a face on a book, as such I now hold legal claim over the name "facebook".
I demand you take down any pages or links infringing on my trademark at once.

I ask that you not contact them, or me looking for legal proof of my claim.

Thank you and good day.

I think that the only option when publicity doesn't work is to engage the legal system against the "person" who made the claim, and get the judge to award a default judgement to Neowin, when the defendant obviously does not show up.
Facebook will then have to reinstate the page according to their own policy that there is a court judgement.
Then when the same thing happens again, engage the courts against Facebook for allowing unconfirmed reports where contact with the complainant can not even be established, and you can use the previous court judgement as evidence that the complainant is fictitious.

Or something like that. We need a real lawyer who can shed light on this sort of strategy. It might have to be done out of where Neowin is incorporated.

If FaceBook wants to have itself considered as a future reliable company then they need to sort this very quickly, it's things like this which can easily reverse a companies fortune and make way for a competitor. It doesn't seem likely now but im sure they were saying the same thing at MySpace.

REM2000 said,
If FaceBook wants to have itself considered as a future reliable company then they need to sort this very quickly, it's things like this which can easily reverse a companies fortune and make way for a competitor. It doesn't seem likely now but im sure they were saying the same thing at MySpace.

My thoughts exactly...

GS:mac

In a sense, I hope this sort of abuse becomes more common, so that Facebook will be forced to actually hire staff to handle these issues. You know, answer phone calls, cross-check with patent and trademark registrations before killing Facebook pages, and very advanced human work like that. It's not like they don't have the money to do so.

I unfortunately think that more abuse is the only language Facebook understand.

Northgrove said,
In a sense, I hope this sort of abuse becomes more common, so that Facebook will be forced to actually hire staff to handle these issues. You know, answer phone calls, cross-check with patent and trademark registrations before killing Facebook pages, and very advanced human work like that. It's not like they don't have the money to do so.

I unfortunately think that more abuse is the only language Facebook understand.

Heck yeah... I wish people would be saved from the trouble, but I think you hit the nail on the head!

Seeing how I soon will start to use my photographer page on Facebook I really hope it won't hit me, too!

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

Heck yeah... I wish people would be saved from the trouble, but I think you hit the nail on the head!

Seeing how I soon will start to use my photographer page on Facebook I really hope it won't hit me, too!

GS:mac


Yes, it's very sad if this would be necessary for things to start moving, but I'm not sure how else Facebook will listen. Writing about it on fairly high profile sites like this one could help though. I'm afraid it would take a lot of pages to start boycotting Facebook in protest for things to change though, and I'm also not sure many are willing to boycott Facebook because of others being affected, and give up their member connections there.

Northgrove said,

Yes, it's very sad if this would be necessary for things to start moving, but I'm not sure how else Facebook will listen. Writing about it on fairly high profile sites like this one could help though. I'm afraid it would take a lot of pages to start boycotting Facebook in protest for things to change though, and I'm also not sure many are willing to boycott Facebook because of others being affected, and give up their member connections there.

For example me...
I wouldn't boycott...
Facebook is just too much about my connections and the peers... If it were a service of which I'd get non-unique service, I'd consider it...
I know there are other channels, but in the end you do miss out on something.
Now whether someone cares about this or not, that is a personal thing.

Some other form of protest remains possible and plausible.

GS:mac

Neobond said,
Yeah above is the new complaint, but no response from Facebook this time.

Not sure how much time it would take, or if it would do any good, but you might want to look in to filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Facebook has already had 1300+ complaints filed against them, most of which seemed to have finally gotten settled. Beyond that you need to keep this in the light and hopefully more tech sites will take you your cause. It would be in their interest to do so since the same could happen to them.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I think this is going to escalate to a point that Facebook has to review and change their practices. Now that the cat is out of the bag, this is going to start happening to all kinds of different fan pages and maybe even official pages for companies. Hey "all the cool kids are doing it"!

roadwarrior said,
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I think this is going to escalate to a point that Facebook has to review and change their practices. Now that the cat is out of the bag, this is going to start happening to all kinds of different fan pages and maybe even official pages for companies. Hey "all the cool kids are doing it"!

Indeed...
This shows how flawed "guilty until proven otherwise" is...
IP protection has gone nuts and crazy the past decades...

GS:mac

So your telling me, Facebook are removing pages because they are getting random reports from people who don't even really exist (the emails), complaining that the page holds copyright information/content and Facebook are listening to them, and taking down the pages?

Pathetic.

SuperKid said,
So your telling me, Facebook are removing pages because they are getting random reports from people who don't even really exist (the emails), complaining that the page holds copyright information/content and Facebook are listening to them, and taking down the pages?

Pathetic.

I was wondering that! Doesnt make sense really unless its an automated system but surely not.

ChuckFinley said,

I was wondering that! Doesnt make sense really unless its an automated system but surely not.


It appears that they do have a bot to reply to emails, yes. How that works is anyones guess!

Neobond said,

It appears that they do have a bot to reply to emails, yes. How that works is anyones guess!

So I could file a random, false complaint against any facebook page and they'll most likely take it down without any investigation? Sounds exactly how a $50 billion would function...

Neobond said,

It appears that they do have a bot to reply to emails, yes. How that works is anyones guess!

I guess that the real person you initially dealt with has an option to check that all further emails from you are to be auto-answered until the whole matter is checked as "resolved"...
After that you probably have a chance to get through again...

Well, to get there... that is beyond our horizon how...
I guess this is the communication problem.

Did you guys try emailing with another email address and different subject title?
Another staff member could send it...
That email address would not be "listed" in such a system and it smells like such one.

GS:mac