There can be a debate over which is the most popular website on Internet, but one thing I can arguably assure everyone and they know it themselves as well, that among the websites that would amass the largest number of votes in a popularity poll, Facebook would certainly be one. As a matter of fact Facebook is very likely to be in the top three most popular websites on Internet, such is its popularity with more than a billion active users worldwide. For many people Facebook has become so important that it has almost become a part of their life or business and probably the most important tool to stay in regular touch with their friend, family and other contacts. It is also therefore a very well-known fact that the bigger a site or company grows more high-handed and off-hand it becomes in time, leaving very little option with the average unsuspecting user other than falling in line to a bunch of draconian rules and actions. Google has become one such Giant that treats the average internet user with utter contempt for quite some time now and Facebook is certainly following that example.
While one can’t argue that there is a lot of nasty stuff and spam on Facebook that warrants to be dealt with in the strictest possible manner, but that is no justification really of troubling and victimizing the innocent user of Facebook for others’ misdeeds. Once an account is disabled or banned for life on Facebook for whatever reason there is no way to appeal against it other than going to the courts probably. No fair chance is given to anybody to explain their side of the story and for some people it could be of real damaging impact. The only remedy a user probably has is that once he or she gets a warning from the Facebook automated system it is time to avoid treading in that path again to avoid a Facebook permanent ban. Even though such kinds of warnings and bans are done in the garb of fighting spam but the manner in which it confines and inhibits the innocuous user is stifling of one’s freedom of expression and the facebooker is only left wondering after facing the initial trouble, what would not be considered as spam next time onwards, even while one grapples with the first time offence that doesn’t seem to find any offender other than the Facebook spam control system!
I’d like to talk about a Facebook feature that is the main focus of my article and it has been abused by scores of people since its introduction, while many other non-abusers had to bear the brunt of it. It is the ubiquitous “Like” button that almost all Facebook users just adore and use regularly. The Facebook “Like” button is a feature that allows users to show their support for specific comments, pictures, wall posts, statuses or fan pages. It really makes a general facebooker happy to see people liking their pages or posts or other stuff and the number of likes increasing with time, but sadly many people have abused the system with alluring visitors to like their pages and other stuff when it ideally should have been spontaneous rather than forced and many of them have also got bots as fans in return to their warped approach. Things have now become such that other than the celebrity pages and a few other very popular pages it is difficult to tell really which page has received genuine likes and which one just garnered them by all possible dubious means. Facebook rules regarding the likes clearly state that “You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion” – but I don’t think many people are honoring those rules.
While spam continues to thrive in the use of like feature on Facebook as well as many other areas many average innocuous users have received warnings from the Facebook automated system for excessive liking of pages, comments or wall posts. Many of them were doing those with pure honest intentions either voluntarily or to support friends and other close acquaintances and they triggered the spam detection system in the process, while in some specific cases it is really hard to fathom how could it count as spam. For example one newspaper report cited a member receiving a temporary ban for just using 60 likes in a short time while the limit is 5000. Another user reports that he got a warning from Facebook for liking a bunch of birthday greetings that were sent by his friends. There are countless such complaints all over the Internet about Facebook spam control high-handedness along with scores of other similar issues. Since there is literally ‘no support’ on Facebook so people are only left wondering and presuming rather than getting a clear answer as to what was wrong in their actions. And the average approach to this issue is generally that you avoid the action in future that got you into trouble with Facebook rather than question the trueness of it and either way Facebook is not going to answer to individual or even collective complaints.
Even though Facebook should be lauded for adding such a unique feature as the “Like” button, but it doesn’t absolve them from the criticism that they have invited upon themselves through their off-hand actions. For instance Facebook limits the number of likes to 5000 pages and it is quite unfair really as if an average user uses their Facebook account for years then one will certainly find lots of pages or posts or pictures that is likeable in every possible way and one will want to do it voluntarily, but sadly many people who have reached that limit are forced either to not like any more stuff or delete some previous likes. That is like limiting your freedom of expression and Facebook authorities are not letting out any official word to clear their stand on this kind of one-sided rule. There is also a counter argument to this complaint, which states that lifting such limits will give a free license to those who are willing to purchase or use other dubious ways to get as many likes as they can. While both the arguments hold their ground Facebook needs to find a middle path that at least give a little bit more freedom to the long-time users of Facebook to express themselves more freely while keeping the leash intact as well. I don’t really know if Facebook have any real intentions of doing such a balancing act as its past history is not very encouraging in this area.
I personally think Facebook should give more importance to the way Facebook user’s accounts are compromised on a regular basis and then used to harm other people or commit crimes and find better ways of combating those hackers rather than annoying innocent people with pestering rules. That will inspire some confidence about the Facebook support really to the average user, which is currently at an all-time low. Apart from the like button issues on Facebook the friend requests are also a real contentious area like a few other things that has been abused both by spammers and hackers as well as the Facebook draconian rules and spam control system. But still Facebook should also be appreciated and respected for adding many other good things and features regularly that most members enjoy worldwide and benefit from and also for maintaining and keeping millions of pages, posts and various other stuff in order, thereby enriching this whole concept of social networking. I only hope Facebook shows a little bit of respect to the average user by listening to their complaints in future and implements better counter-strategies that come down hard on the spammers and hackers and not the average normal Facebook user.