Mysterious Facebook Problems

By James Kwak

Sometime this morning all of the links from our Facebook page back to the blog stopped working. According to Facebook, “Facebook users” had identified the page as being “abusive.” I didn’t find out until this evening, when a reader emailed me. (I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook.) When the problem started, it also applied to all of the older links from Facebook to the blog. The problem did not seem to affect links from the Facebook page to 13bankers.com.

Then, in the last half our, the problem went away, and now all the links work.

I have no idea what happened. For background, this is what usually happens. New posts on this blog go into the RSS feed. That feed gets polled periodically by Twitterfeed, which takes the title of the post and the URL (compressed using bit.ly*), appends “#fb”, and creates a new tweet from our Twitter account. (The 13bankers.com feed gets treated the exact same way.) Then the Selective Tweets application for Facebook monitors our Twitter feed; whenever it sees a tweet that ends with “#fb”, it posts it to the Baseline Scenario fan page in Facebook.**

The fact that the links to 13bankers.com continued to work seems to absolve Twitterfeed, bit.ly, and Selective Tweets. However, I have enough software experience to know that things are not necessarily that simple.

So the possibilities seem to be:

  1. Facebook doesn’t like bit.ly — doubtful.
  2. Facebook doesn’t like anything being promoted by Selective Tweets, as suggested by one commenter — quite possible. This could be a flaky problem, meaning it comes and goes.  (It does seem like the problem appeared briefly on April 23 as well.)
  3. Facebook has some kind of algorithm that says, “if the same site gets posted too many times using something that looks like an automatic process, it’s probably spam.” But this seems doubtful, since we are far from the biggest blog that auto-posts to Facebook.
  4. A bunch of pro-Wall Street activists (are there such people? aren’t they called “lobbyists”?) figured out how to report to Facebook that baselinescenario.com is really a religious cult indoctrination site, and therefore someone at Facebook (or some program) shut off access to the site.

If anyone knows, or has better theories, please comment. If it happens again, someone please email us at baselinescenario at gmail dot com.

(Incidentally, ours is not the first blog this has happened to. This happened to Cake Wrecks, a blog that highlights really, really bad cakes.)

* Actually, I told Twitterfeed to use Snip instead of bit.ly, but for some reason it’s using bit.ly. But it’s been using bit.ly since long before this problem started.

** I don’t use the main Twitter app for Facebook because, at the time I was setting this up, it didn’t allow you to post your tweets onto a fan page, only onto your personal Facebook page.

25 responses to “Mysterious Facebook Problems

  1. Maybe people are complaining about the excessive promotion of 13 Bankers…..

  2. Other FB sites have also reported problems. The 1,000,000,000 Strong Against Offshore Drilling also got “abusive” complaints, and was taken down by FB. Then, after 1,000,000,000 Strong Against Offshore Drilling wrote a letter to FB, the 1,000,000,000 Strong Against Offshore Drilling FB page went up again.

    Seems like this stuff only happens to FB pages that lean a certain way politically.

  3. LOL on the cakes. There’s something for everything

  4. The conspiracy elf that lives deep within say it’s probably #4….A bunch of pro-Wall Street activists (are there such people? aren’t they called “lobbyists”?) figured out how to report to Facebook that baselinescenario.com is really a religious cult indoctrination site, and therefore someone at Facebook (or some program) shut off access to the site.

    Personally I would have said a site that cuts through the crap and gets to the heart of the matter with well thought out responses from above average bloggers with an ax to grind against an entrenched elite establishment……:)

  5. Pro-Wall Street activists are called members of Congress, Obama, Summers, Geithner, Bernanke. If the US were actually a democracy structured as set forth in the Constitution, these activists would have another name — Traitor.

  6. Good one

  7. Baselinescenario.com really IS a religious cult indoctrination site. Abracadabra.

  8. #4 is more likely than you think, particularly for political messages that largely spread through modern internet media. Google “astroturfing” if you’re unfamiliar with the practice.

  9. trouserman

    And if they lived in another country and an earlier time, they’d also have another name: Wrecker

  10. The same thing happened to me today: three outgoing links on FB were blocked for being “abusive.” Two of these were to articles mildly critical of Facebook, and the third was to a blog post about how bad the oil spill could turn out to be! Some time later the links were working again, but I have deleted my Facebook account anyway. Everything about it sucks and made me mad, but ESPECIALLY censoring my content! It doesn’t matter whether this was an accident or an anomaly. Nobody censors me and lives to tell the tale. I am DONE with that data-mining, unethical pile o’ crap.

  11. Of course to be fair, much of the population doesn’t differentiate between “something I dont agree with” and “offensive”. That really clouds up all levels of political discourse and can lead to the same result as #4, if not the same exact root cause.

  12. How often does a website need to change their privacy policies? Facebook seems to tweak their privacy policies every month and users are forced to keep up in order to keep their previous settings, or in many cases the previous settings are no longer under the user’s control. As far as things being “abusive”, it doesn’t make sense to leave this up to users. Any group of users can label a website as being abusive, whether it is or not. Facebook is certainly treading in the wrong direction with many areas of their website, and taking advantage of their popularity power a bit too far.

  13. Aaah, facebook. I checked them out two years ago and began setting up an account but recoiled in horror when they asked for my password to my own e mail account.

    Last night I ran through all the ‘Rich’ surnames there just to make sure I wasn’t in their system. I see it as a bloated time waster and prefer to use SEO and more organic things to have the web presence I want.

    It is a thing cobbled together by a Harvard brat and a bunch of coders pumped up on red bull. It is notorious as a spreader of mal-ware because hackers love to mess with the big enchilada de jour.

    I find it funny that they don’t even bother hacking Microsoft much anymore and Google is smarter about everything they do than either of these duds.

    It will pass from the scene when the novelty wears off and some more enlightened thing shows up. It’s just a gaggle of coders pumped up on red bull.

  14. Jennifer Elaine Hudson

    It appears to me that facebook picks and chooses who they like and do not like..you can tell they like certain people..more than others..if you check the Top News..some of Top News..really have nothing of interest to say..still that person status goes to Top News..this seems very strange to me..some really do not have any comments or like..still go to Top News..I believe they have certain people that go to Top News automatic..many people have asked me about this..I am not afraid to express my opinion on this. Some people have beautiful horse pictures and messages of interest to everyone..never get put on Top News ! ! !

  15. Jennifer Elaine Hudson

    If you have a problem with facebook..where do you report this..several other people have asked me..it appears to me..they do not want to hear about problems..just do as they please.

  16. I also finally cancelled my Facebook account, and wonder-of-wonders life has continued quite smoothly. Is there any reason why a serious financial and economics site should be splashing around in Facebook’s wake? Is there data showing new readers come from it? Facebook is in the business of exploiting its Fbeebees and making money off them, end of story. (The claim you’re twittering for this site is surely a joke…)

  17. Quite possibly the smartest action you’ll take today!
    (except scanning baseline of course)
    Loved everything about your comment

  18. We have the Facebook page for the convenience of readers who prefer to aggregate their news sources on Facebook. The same goes for Twitter. That is all.

  19. I understand why Kwak and Johnson have been using
    Facebook as a medium to spread important economic
    info; anybody know a better way to inspire mass numbers of people nationwide to contact their local and national reps? If policies are to be changed for the better, lots of messages have to get to these politicians…

    But James is absolutely correct, FB’s Zuckerberg et al are seriously messing about with everyone’s information. If I can detect that without being a programmer,a software wonk,etc., then James Kwak certainly can nail these concerns info-wise, being
    an IT expert.

    Keep reading Simon & James,
    Bring Back Glass-Steagall!

    Amber Ladeira

  20. I think you are 100% correct.

  21. -Bingo, Chris!
    I’m still there because
    once you start the process,
    it’s nigh unto impossibility
    to get off: I have two “accounts”–one I started
    but couldn’t delete and a very active one
    now–I’m going to check out your blog, you sound
    super smart!

  22. Excuse me?

  23. Bill Gilwood

    and then another name: dead

  24. #4 = Lobbyists Indoctrination?____ “Le Darwinism Apostles of K-Street”…The more I hear the empirical evidence that science postulates through todays robotic media,…lecturing me that we are all but amoeba – fossilized afterbirth having been reincarnated in a petri-dish under the shadowy guidance of a alchemist government,…this “Genomic Laboratory” simmering with time excellerated unabated. The faster I run to find religion,and a neo-religious cult will do just fine,thankyou. What is religion? Think about the myriad applications for it’s usefulness,or better said, meanings of interpretation. Once again ,I refuse,or resign myself, not to live in a world without a creator? I’d be willing to bet in a century or less,the atheist will have integrated human-kind with mindless machines,emasculating man’s limited thought quotient for artificial intelligence evolving drones into a “Default Latter-Day Darwinism Cyber-Borg Theorem”,…come true? Now James, is this wild enough ,…;^)