Facebook restores access and uploaded photos for KDE apps

KDE whacked with automated banhammer in the name of "positive user experiences"

A day after KDE users found their pictures gone missing and KDE apps unable to load pics, Facebook has restored access and photos. What happened? Apparently the KDE Plug-Ins were whacked in error by Facebook's automated systems.

Yesterday, KDE users got an unpleasant surprise — pics uploaded from KDE apps like Gwenview were unceremoniously removed from view and KDE apps that used the "kipi" plugins were banned from uploading new photos. Facebook's PR contacted me today to say that all had been restored, but were pretty terse about the details. The response I got was "The app was removed in error as part of Facebook's automated systems, which are in place to ensure apps on Facebook provide positive user experiences. We're currently working on updated tools and analytics to help developers better monitor user feedback and provide more transparency into these systems."

Facebook is a pretty popular site, so I don't blame the company for having automated systems that take first action. Having Gwenview and other KDE apps blocked from the site for a day or two is inconvenient, but only moderately disruptive. The second half of the response, however, seems like overkill to me. If Gwenview or some errant program fails to have a "positive user experience" that doesn't mean that all of the content uploaded with it is undesirable.

But that's what happens — if a tool is banned from Facebook, apparently "the content associated with it also goes down."

That's a little nuts, if you asked me.

And "transparent" seems, well, a bit Orwellian. The company didn't provide any details on why the apps were banned, just that they ran afoul (somehow) of the "automated systems." It's worth noting that KDE folks are not alone according to the Facebook forums. A lot of apps are apparently being whacked due to "poor user experiences" whatever that means. Meanwhile, Facebook spam continues unabated, and I see at least one or two spam posts per week that auto-post themselves to a user's wall if they click on them.

I will give Facebook a little credit, in that they responded relatively quickly and the content takedown was reversible. While pictures were down for a little while, they weren't completely deleted. (At least that's the word I've gotten from KDE users I know. If you have a different experience, please let me know by email or in the comments.)

As I said yesterday, it's popular in some circles (especially FOSS ones) about hating Facebook or not using it. I'm not jumping on that bandwagon, but I will say that this incident is a reminder that Facebook isn't a service that users should depend on for archiving their photos or other data. Post your pics to Facebook if you like — but make sure you've got a second copy somewhere safe.

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