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January 24, 2008

Union organizer banned from Facebook for making too many friends

A Canadian union organizer has been banned from Facebook for making too many friends.

CUPE organizer/Labour Start correspondent Derek Blackadder's foray into labor-related social networking was rudely interrupted by a warning from Facebook saying that he was making too many friends. Blackadder ignored the warning.

John of jonninit explains:

Derek got a note from the good book, telling him he was trying to add too many friends, and should calm down a bit, or else. Now as a union organiser, he’s quite likely to want to add lots of friends - it’s kind of what he does.  So he waits a bit and tries again, and is told he can’t add any more at the moment and to wait and try later. Fair enough. He waits a bit more and tries again, same message. By now, he’s probably frothing at the mouth and muttering “must organise, must organise”, so he has another go to see if the coast is clear, and promptly gets himself a ban.

That being a ban from Facebook itself - no more profile, no access to the stuff he’s built up, no appeal.

It's not clear exactly how many people Blackadder "friended" during his online organizing stint, or how quickly he racked up the contacts.   

So far, nobody is alleging that the ban was politically motivated. The Facebook Terms of Use stipulate that Facebook is for personal non-commercial use only-that line is blurry for people like Blackadder who effectively make friends for a living. Besides which, work-related networking is one of the main reasons people use Facebook in the first place. Almost every Facebook user I know uses it to keep track of clients, colleagues, sources, political allies, and so on.

In fact, Facebook is full of professional activists and organizers plying their trade openly. These organizers come from across the political spectrum. Facebook hosts thousands of politically-oriented groups. It seems odd that Blackadder would be singled out for the content of his profile.

Apparently, it's not uncommon for users to get banned for adding too many friends.

The tech blog Scobelizer reported last year that Facebook engineers imposed a 5000-friend limit on all users because the system isn't designed to handle such large sets of contacts.

Still, the question remains: Why did Facebook kick Blackadder out, instead of just regulating his friending? By disabling the account, Facebook has deprived Blackadder of a potentially valuable contact lists and whatever else he may have uploaded.

Blackadder and his many friends are taking the ban in stride. Naturally, they've started a Blackadder solidarity Facebook group. As of one o'clock this afternoon, over 600 people have joined the group to lobby for Blackadder's reinstatement.

I guess it's sort of backhanded compliment for an organizer to be too connected for Facebook.


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Also, is he related to Edmund Blackadder?

The Facebook agreement actually refers to "personal, non-commercial use" not "private non-commercial."

I hope he has a cunning plan to win this one.

Thanks Lindsay. A slight distinction: Derek was booted for adding too many friends too quickly, not for having too many friends. He got some vague warnings, but didn't think they meant he'd be ditched without appeal. I don't know how many friends he actually had, but certainly had a lot more friends than me :(
Interesting point about the personal use too. Like most union organisers I think, Derek's activities are a mix of work and voluntary (lots of effort into the voluntary project for example).

My guess is that this is to prevent the type of spamming that is so prevalent on MySpace - you know, where a band just starts adding EVERYONE as a friend because they are convinced that EVERYONE will love their music if only they are tricked into listening to it. Or all the random HotGirl69XX profiles that were always friending me until I figured out to make it so you had to actually know my name to friend me.

I doubt its anything insidious or that he was singled out for his politics.

To touch upon David Grenier's Myspace comment: when has Myspace not sucked? The pages are ugly and the software is cumbersome. Facebook's features are more interactive. The Myspace profile is a giant message board and the blog software is ancient.

Myspace came along at the right time. Friendster was too exclusive (you had to be invited be a member.) Myspace's saving grace is it's a great place to find new music.

It looks like his account has been reinstated. The group had over 2,000 members when I last checked.
That was fast. I wonder why the backed down, and so quickly?

UPDATE: Victory! Derek is free! Thanks to all your help, Facebook have backed down and found his old account for him. Let the organising re-commence!

I have enough trouble keeping up with my old friends, so I just don't need a social network.

But if I was a young teen, looking to meet people, looking to expand my horizons...I'd be all over it.

I have to confess. I was alway rather popular in high school (heck, I was popular in grammar school, and jr. high - both private and public.) Sorry. I wasn't trying too hard, but I was able to move through multiple cliques, ethnicities, and different "classes" (and I ain't referring to Math class - more like Social Studies.) Again, I apologize, even though it's not my fault. I guess I was just an all around nice chick.

Humble too.

If we had had Facebook and MySpace back then? Who knows? But it is interesting to ponder.

I hate social networking on principal, but I finally relented and joined myspace because it was the only way to keep tabs on a lot of my favorite bands. Most bands don't bother running their own website or keeping it up to date, so the only way you can find out if they are playing out is to be on mySpace.

But yeah, buggy, bloated, slow, and useless for the most part.

>I have to confess. I was alway rather popular in high school (heck, I was popular in grammar school, and jr. high - both private and public.) Sorry. I wasn't trying too hard, but I was able to move through multiple cliques, ethnicities, and different "classes" (and I ain't referring to Math class - more like Social Studies.) Again, I apologize, even though it's not my fault. I guess I was just an all around nice chick.

>Humble too.

Boy, I'd like to see some independent confirmation of this. I will independently confirm that, way back in the 1960s when I was in high school, there were folks who made equally specious 'n' smug assertions.

>Most bands don't bother running their own website or keeping it up to date

Bullshit. Name five who amount to anything.

Dock wants "independent confirmation." In what form would you like that, Dock? How do you propose to go about that?


Bands need MySpace because bands need teens: Always have, always will. So in that sense, I agree with Dock.

>How do you propose to go about that?

That's the very point. It's an unfalsifiable statement. And somehow, call me crazy, I suspect that someone who objectively had the social graces you claim would have refrained from making it.

Call me crazy...

Dock: Define amounts to anything.

There are a lot of small bands I like. Bands who, for whatever reason, don't have a whole lot of advertising budget, who play small bars and clubs. Myspace makes an easy way for them to let fans opt in.

It makes it a lot easier to tell people about them.

So, if by amounts to anything, you mean big enough that they are playing a House of Blues, and get mentioned in the ads, maybe not.

If amounts to anything means worth listening, to, I think mudkitty has the right of it.

As to the rest of it, you're being petty, and pointless.

Good non-answer. You didn't even name any groups who have only Myspace slots. My experience is that a whole lot of bands who play only small clubs have webpages with bios, pix, performance schedules, etc. etc.

You said Most bands don't bother running their own website or keeping it up to date, which is plainly bullshit.

>Call me crazy...

Okay, mud, here's a fun game. You strike me as a classic gotta-have-the-last-word type. You also strike me (and of course all of this is just online phantoms) as somebody who showed up at all the high school parties, one way or another, but was happier than anybody else there that you attended.

Now, you can respond to this post. But this confirms you're a gotta-have-the-last-word type.

Or, you can not respond to this post. But this confirms that you're trying not to seem like a gotta-have-the-last-word type, because I mentioned it in this post.

I think, objectively, you get more points for one response instead of the other.

Well, Dock, I think I'll leave the last word to you, schmendrik.

Dock: That's purely passive aggressive, "I'm gonna win, mock you, and laugh to myself at how clever I am."

There are lots of words for that sort of behavior, the polite ones are cheap, petty, small-mined and pathetic.

The less polite, you may infer to your hearts content.

>cheap, petty, small-mined and pathetic

I'll take all of those over egocentric bullshit-throwers.

You know, one of the worst attributes of the internet is that people spew utter self-advertisements and obviously crap and everybody nods and stays silent and we roll on to the next thing. It's very corrosive to clear thinking and precise discourse. Calling people for spouting nonsense or empty bragging is worthy work. You will be pelted for it, but do it anyway.


I’ve heard this idea before. Who thinks there should be some sort of Facebook Union?

Essentially, it’s just like any other type of union. If one of us gets banned unfairly, we all stop using the site. They have to listen to the masses…

Many of us here are highly influential individuals, and we should all agree on the following:
1) Convicted individuals need a way to plead for their innocence and individuals who are not in violation of any rules should have restored accounts.
2) All rules should be stated clearly on the site, and non-damaging first-time violations of rules that are not made clear should be dealt with through a warning.

I’m going to be creating a Gmail account and all who are interested in becoming part of the Facebook Union can email me at

All will be valued here.

Edmund was my grandfather, my great-great grandfather, my great-great-great...


I've boiled-down my Facebook organizing thoughts to:

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