Operators of Web site dedicated to those who seek social-media death with dignity say that Facebook is taking a more Hippocratic approach to the idea of killing one's online identities with a few keystrokes. They say the social-networking giant has killed off their access to Facebook.
Called Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, the site's pitch goes like this: "Tired of your Social Network? Liberate your newbie friends with a Web2.0 suicide! This machine lets you delete all your energy-sucking social-networking profiles, kill your fake virtual friends, and completely do away with your Web2.0 alter ego. The machine is just a metaphor for the Website which moddr_ is hosting; the belly of the beast where the web2.0 suicide scripts are maintained. Our service currently runs with Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and LinkedIn! Commit NOW!"
The "machine" is the brainchild of Moddr, "your 'unfriendly' neighborhood medialab" located in Rotterdam.
Facebook, at least, is apparently not amused (make that seriously not amused; see Facebook statement in update below, plus Suicide Machine's response in Update 2), as this message appears on the Suicide Machine Web site this morning:
After more than 50,000 friends being unfriended and more than 500 forever "signed-out" users, Facebook started to block our suicide machine from their servers without any comment! We are currently looking in ways to circumvent this ungrounded restriction imposed on our service!
Thanks for your understanding
Your 2.0 suicide team
If you'd like to get a better understanding of the philosophy and technology behind this online Dr. Kevorkian, check out this promotional video:
In the meantime, I've contacted the Facebook public relations department to see if I can get confirmation and an explanation.
(Update, 12:50 p.m.: Here's the statement I just received from a Facebook spokesperson: "Facebook provides the ability for people who no longer want to use the site to either deactivate their account or delete it completely. Web 2.0 Suicide Machine collects login credentials and scrapes Facebook pages, which are violations of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. We've blocked the site's access to Facebook as is our policy for sites that violate our SRR. We're currently investigating and considering whether to take further action.")
(Update 2, 1:30 p.m. Gordan Savicic, billed as the Suicide Machine's chief euthanasia officer, says that his organization has yet to hear directly from Facebook, but he has plenty to say about Facebook's statement to me.
"I guess they are waiting (to see) if we'll circumvent their restriction. We are working on exactly that right now," he says in an e-mail.
Asked if they are violating the Facebook terms, Savicic replies:
"No, not from our point of view. We are just offering a service to users who want to drop out of Facebook. According to Facebook's terms of service, they should actually not threaten us but the people who commit suicide -- 'You will not share your password, let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account' http://www.facebook.com/terms.php?ref=pf -- And again, we are neither 'hacking' into their servers, nor scraping their pages. We only store the profile picture and the name of the user! This is actually possible without even logging into Facebook."
As for Facebook's hint at further action?
"We are very excited to investigate further on what they actually meant!")
(Update, Jan. 12: Here's what they meant.)
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