Is Facebook a Fraternity?

Last week’s drama over Robert Scoble being kicked out of Facebook generated a ton buzz in the blogosphere ultimately resulting in Scoble being able to rejoin Facebook. We already know that blogosphere buzz is a critical factor in Facebook decision making as we witnessed with the Facebook Beacon fiasco. On a regular basis I receive emails from people who claim they were falsely accused of violating Facebook’s terms of service and can no longer access the site.

Just yesterday, a reader emailed me from Brunei Darussalam after receiving the following message from Facebook:


Our systems indicate that you’ve been highly active on Facebook lately and viewing pages at a quick enough rate that we suspect you may be running an automated script. This kind of Activity would be a violation of our Terms of Use and potentially of federal and state laws.

As a result, your account has been disabled. Please reply to this email with a description of your recent activity on Facebook. In addition, please confirm with us that in the future you will not scrape or otherwise attempt to obtain in any manner information from our website except as permitted by our Terms of Use, and that you will immediately delete and not use in any manner any such information you may have previously obtained.

We reserve the right to take any appropriate action in connection with any activities that violate our Terms of Use and/or applicable laws, including termination of your account and pursuit of legal remedies.

Please reply to this email.

Thank you,
Facebook Customer Support

This is the exact same thing that Robert Scoble was banned for. While I cannot guarantee that this individual was not scraping Facebook pages, he appeared surprised that he was being accused of anything that would violate Facebook’s terms. This individual may not be as fortunate to have his account reinstated as Robert Scoble did. The funny thing is that Robert Scoble was in complete violation of Facebook’s terms and was reinstated within 24 hours.

While Robert Scoble may not have known what Plaxo’s code was actually doing, after having his account reinstated he paraded around and preached about how he is ultimately untouchable by the Facebook staff. It was a less than mature way of handling things and ultimately I think he should have his account banned. What reason was there for reinstating Scoble’s account other than the fact that he has a lot of readers on his blog?

The only other thing going for Scoble is that he’s in the valley and friends of friends work at Facebook. That’s the way the real world works. They help out friends of friends. You would hope that this wasn’t the case for one of the largest and fastest growing social networks on the web. Then again, I surely hope that Facebook would make the same decision if I ended up in a similar situation as Robert. Do you think Facebook has a double standard?