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Facebook Goes After Greasemonkey Script Developer 375

Posted by timothy
from the you-must-enjoy-our-obnoxious-messages dept.
palmerj3 writes "The popular Facebook Purity greasemonkey script (now renamed Fluff Buster Purity) has been used by thousands to rid their Facebook feeds from the likes of Mafia Wars, Farmville, and other annoying things. Now, Facebook is threatening the developer of this script. Does Facebook have the right to govern their website's design and functionality once it's in the browser?"
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Facebook Goes After Greasemonkey Script Developer

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  • No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:04AM (#31622412)
    No. They don't...
  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Raleel (30913) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:05AM (#31622418)

    Sorry, you distributed content, we can throw it in the trash if we like

  • by Dayofswords (1548243) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:05AM (#31622420)
    here comes the Streisand effect
  • Of course not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:09AM (#31622448)
    Of course they don't, but it doesn't matter because the developer can't possibly afford to defend himself so he'll comply because it doesn't matter if you're right if you're homeless. I wish judges were a little more liberal with SLAPP summary judgments against litigious corporations.
  • It's no problem... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iztehsux (1339985) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:10AM (#31622454)
    I don't see how this is any different than running noscript, or redirecting entries in your host file to 127.0.0.1... Even if this does go to court, I doubt Facebook would come out on top. Explaining to someone how browser content can be modified on the fly using GreaseMonkey might be a little tricky. No harm, no foul. Good luck Facebook, you money-hoarding bastards.
  • by Asmor (775910) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:12AM (#31622460) Homepage

    Indeed. This is officially the first thing that's ever made me want to install Greasemonkey.

  • by Raxxon (6291) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:13AM (#31622476)

    Had GS installed, but hadn't seen this script.

    Thanks EffBee for letting me know about the script that keeps all your spam harvesting shit-ware out of sight.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tanuki64 (989726) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:14AM (#31622484)

    Sorry, you distributed content, we can throw it in the trash if we like

    This is common sense. Not much worth in court.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:17AM (#31622494) Homepage Journal

    even the mention of this story will upset their pr in dev community A LOT. we web developers, contrary to some who are developing for more closed platforms like ipod, do NOT like being herded, goaded, or ordered about. this will have consequences.

  • by rhythmx (744978) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:20AM (#31622514) Homepage Journal
    Can I not telnet to facebook.com on port 80 and make a request by hand? Sorry, but their copyright ends after they distribute a URI over HTTP. What I do with the response is my prerogative. My browser does anything it wants to with your data... even if I'm not using a browser to connect to tcp/80 at the time.
  • Re:EULA (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:21AM (#31622520)

    I don't know very many people without facebook

    Try hanging out with adults then. I've never had, nor will I ever have a Facebook or Myspace account. I'm not into teen events and gossip so I just don't see the point.

    Besides, I have an actual web site if anyone wants to contact me.

  • Re:EULA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:38AM (#31622610) Homepage

    To be honest, greasemonkey is the equivalent of a spam filter. Without it, you're drowned by stupid apps updates you don't give a damn about. And facebook become unusable and utter crap.

    So let them disable whatever and shoot themselves in the foot. I won't drop a tear when that happens.

  • Re:No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@[ ]mythe.com ['jws' in gap]> on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:40AM (#31622620) Homepage Journal

          You have to consider the American legal system. After they're done threatening legal action, then they'll drag him into court. It won't be a one-hearing thing either. It'll span years. They may get a court order that he can't develop nor distribute such software until the conclusion of the case.

        Say he wins in court. He can continue to distribute his software. That's assuming he can afford legal representation for that long. Most normal people can't financially handle a prolonged court case, so even if he started fighting it from the start, he'd run out of funds and do exactly what they tell him to.

        If he loses in court, it'll cost him an absolute fortune. They can hire better lawyers, and keep it tied up in court for years. Ok, now he has to stop distributing in the future (since they probably got the court order to not distribute for the duration of the court case, he'll be faced with fines, and probably Facebooks legal fees.

        So his choices are to stop, and accept it, or to fight it and spend every penny he has in court.

        Someone like Facebook doesn't mind spending the money to drag it through court. It's "encouragement" for others not to do the same thing.

     

  • Re:EULA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grimbleton (1034446) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:47AM (#31622656)

    My supervisor at work just asked me the other day if I play Farmville.

  • by mdm42 (244204) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:01AM (#31622710) Homepage Journal
    And you'll find yourself with a shitload of newly free hours in the day in which you can do all sorts of stuff. Write a book. Write some free software. Learn a new language. You'll amaze yourself with just how much you can achieve in just one hour extra a day.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:04AM (#31622714) Journal
    Because they haven't done worse before? Facebook is a company that has a long history of unethical and annoying practices. It is a good tool but I constantly find myself wishing that my friends were on some other site.
  • Re:EULA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 25thCenturyQuaker (739040) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:04AM (#31622716)

    "I have an actual web site if anyone wants to contact me."

    So, what's the name of that site, mate? Anonymouscowardnumbersixpointeightthreebillion-giveortake.com? Sorry, Captian Luddite, but you're confusing the medium with the content. I'm 50 years old and have prodigiously developed abilities with Google Fu. After over a year of badgering to join Facebook—which I countered with arguments similar to yours, such as:

    • "I've been online and had my own sites and blogs and photosharing galleries for over a dozen years...why can't all these people find me !?"

    —I finally relented. Since doing so about a year ago, I've reconnected with a ton of old friends I couldn't find any other way.

    As a shining example, two of us had an idea to start an ACTUAL website to gather material on musicians & bands we knew from our area, and from days and decades gone by. Despite sending tons of emails, and making tons of phone calls pleading for friends to get on board with the idea, nobody wanted to go to the trouble of contributing to it. I was even offering to send out pre-paid mailers for them to send me stuff to scan and audio/video material to digitize. It was just too much trouble for them

    So, my friend and I started a Facebook group hoping to create a historic record of bands, clubs, & musicians from the Central Pennsylvania area, and in less than 2 months 360+ old friends and acquaintances have found each other again, to share hundreds of photos and stories, and to get back together to jam, or to go see each others' current bands.

    I could also regale you with tales of smaller BBQs, ballgames, golf outings and beer bashes organized and thrown, of old loves rekindled, of new jobs found, of dogs and cats saved from being euthanized, of rare car parts bought & sold, of bands booking money-making tours in markets they would have otherwise never reached, of small group renunion cruises and vacations taken, and many more.

    But apparently, you've explored it all enough to know that Facebook, MySpace and other SocNet sites are just for the pathetic, or the tech—challenged, or the kids...so good luck, and have fun with your decision to dismiss them out—of—hand. In the meantime, there are a whole shtload of us who are having tones of fun, both online and in meatspace, precisely because of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:11AM (#31622752)

    ...every other country than the US, they will accomplish what, exactly?

    Any attempts to enforce EULAs would be laughed out of court in the rest of the world. Consumer rights authorities in the EU are currently investigating whether it even is legal to present EULAs to consumers since there's currently a court case pending in Finland where someone was blocked from using a free service because they had filled out bogus info about themselves and the EULA "obliged" users to disclose real info.

    Ps. It would be nice if someone (a Finn?) has more info about that case, I can't come up with search terms that don't result in too many irrelevant hits and I just cannot remember the foreign names well enough.

  • Re:No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbope (130292) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:16AM (#31622762)

    Mod parent up. This is precisely what is wrong with the American legal system. Even if you do no wrong, companies and corporations can drag you through the legal system and exhaust any funds you have trying to defend yourself.

    Even. If. You. Have. Done. Nothing. Illegal.

    Rampant abuse by shady lawyers doesn't help either, since they get paid no matter who wins a case.

  • by cheros (223479) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:24AM (#31622810)

    .. to never ever using Facebook. Hurray! :-)

  • lite.facebook.com (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amchugh (116330) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:30AM (#31622836)

    Does this script give you anything that lite.facebook.com doesn't already?

  • Right idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Raptor851 (1557585) on Friday March 26, 2010 @04:16AM (#31623026) Homepage
    Wrong organization though, this sounds more like a case for the EFF. http://www.eff.org/ [eff.org]
  • Re:No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msclrhd (1211086) on Friday March 26, 2010 @05:14AM (#31623312)

    Also, if Facebook wins, it will set a precedence. It will mean that potentially, anything that modifies a website from what the website author produces will be illegal.

    This means all greasemonkey scripts and AdBlock Plus/other ad blocking technologies as these modify a sites look from what is intended.

    It may also be applicable to mashup sites that take content from other sites and combine it, although this is different to the above, so would need to be tested in court.

    It could also mean that developers are less likely to innovate in these areas for fear of being sued. There is always the possibility of being sued, but having this as a precedence would increase that chance.

    There are some options, though.

    If I were the developer, I would seek help from the FSF and/or try to find a lawyer willing to do the case pro-bono.

  • Re:What threat? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @05:15AM (#31623318)

    What if he changes it to Fucking Bitches Pussies, is THAT still a violation of "Facebook" trademark?

  • Re:Right idea... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by delinear (991444) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:18AM (#31623984)
    As long as this is about being able to modify the website once it hits the browser, and not about simple trademark infringement (this being /. and it being almost lunch, I don't intend to RTFA :) then I should think the browser developers would also want to back this guy up. It would decimate a lot of plugins, and even functionality such as resizing text, serving your own custom css, disabling javascript/flash/etc might fall within the scope of this, so it has massive implications.
  • Re:No... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wireloose (759042) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:19AM (#31623990)
    Facebook probably has a valid complaint. If you follow the links all the way to the author's page, you will note that he calls it "Fluff Busting Purity, also known as F*** B*** Purity" and he continues to use the F*** B*** and F.B. terms throughout. It's pretty obviously just a smack in their "face." If he wants to avoid lawsuits, he should just name it "mysocialnetwork purity" or something completely unrelated to FB. Then they could do nothing about it.
  • Re:No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saint Fnordius (456567) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:36AM (#31624106) Homepage Journal

    I disagree. Facebook doesn't really have a claim of infringement, any more than Paramount has a claim against the book "The Science of Star Trek". It refers to the protected name without claiming ownership or competing in the same market. All the site and the script comments need, really, is a disclaimer that it is not in any way associated with Facebook or their related properties.

    Facebook already got Streisanded here. By grasping at the only available straw (the name), they've helped the script get noted by the Slashdotters, and it will be impossible to stop now. Even if the original script site is ordered removed, multiple branches will be created, since they can't forbid the underlying code.

  • by altp (108775) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:51AM (#31624708) Homepage

    Maybe its time we start pushing distributed social networking.

    Think "HelloWorld" from years ago, but more modern. HelloWorld was great, just ahead of its time.

    http://www.cooperatingsystems.com/index.htm [cooperatingsystems.com]

  • Re:EULA (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:51AM (#31624710)

    As usual, the "popular" kids ruin it for the rest. They don't care about the negative consequences of their actions, because someone else is going to deal with those. Who cares that the internet is turning into a corporate-controlled crowd-sourcing fest when you can have more than 360 friends and acquaintances?

    Freedom takes a little effort. You're pissing away one of the rare chances of truly non-hierarchical communication for just about nothing in return but getting a list of others who are equally complacent. You're building someone else's walled garden.

  • Re:No... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thiez (1281866) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:23AM (#31625032)

    And lynx. And all adblockers.

  • Re:EULA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday March 26, 2010 @10:17AM (#31625762)

    Ever stop to think maybe he likes it that way?

    No one is questioning whether or not he should or shouldn't be on Facebook. It's not for some people. Not everything is (for example, while I use Facebook, I just dont' see as much point to Twitter and have never sent a tweet in my life - doesn't mean I degrade those who do use it though).

    The primary concern was over his accusation that if you're on Facebook you should start hanging out with adults - the implication being that adults don't use Facebook. That's absolutely off-base and inaccurate. I'm 28, have good job, and own my own home. I have a Facebook account. All of my friends have Facebook accounts. Virtually every single person I went to school with has a Facebook account. Many of their parents have a Facebook account. Nearly everyone at work has a Facebook account. The 55 year old millionaire that in charge where I work? Facebook account.

    Whether or not you identify with it or not, labeling it as something only children or teens mess with is inaccurate. There's either a problem with your data or your definitions. In reality, rather than saying "Start hanging out with adults", he would been more accurate in saying "I don't like Facebook and here's why . . .", in which case I think the world owes him a resounding "WE DON'T CARE!!!!".

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