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Facebook Messaging Blocks Links 143

Posted by timothy
from the deep-packets dept.
jhigh writes "With the launch of the new Facebook messaging system designed to encourage account holders to utilize Facebook for all of their messaging needs, one would think that Facebook would recognize that it cannot continue to block content that it disagrees with. However, Wired reports that Facebook messaging, like the rest of the social networking application, continues to block links to torrents and other file sharing sites, even when users are sending messages via their facebook.com email address. Say what you want about the morality of using file sharing services to share copyrighted material, if Facebook wishes to become a player in the email market, they cannot block content."
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Facebook Messaging Blocks Links

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  • Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothic_Walrus (692125) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @02:33PM (#34292274) Journal

    if Facebook wishes to become a player in the email market, they cannot block content.

    "Messaging" and "e-mail" are not the same thing. Problem solved?

  • That's nothing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmack (197796) <gmack@innerfir e . net> on Saturday November 20, 2010 @02:33PM (#34292276) Homepage Journal

    Blocking sites on copyright grounds is one thing but mis-declaring sites they have a personal beef with as the source of malicious installs is quite another.

    • You must be joking (Score:3, Insightful)

      by turkeyfish (950384)

      The entire Facebook and social networking business model is about penning users into a coral and preying upon their personal information for its marketing potential. Anyone who buys into the technology must is basically signing on to be fleeced as companies like Facebook, Myspace, etc. fleece them for what they are worth.

      Facebook is the internet on training wheels, for those who need the assist.

      • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:45PM (#34293052)

        Facebook is the internet on training wheels, for those who need the assist.

        Apparently it hasnt occured to you that some people actually find it USEFUL for keeping up with a large number of contacts.

        • by guruevi (827432) <evi.smokingcube@be> on Saturday November 20, 2010 @06:56PM (#34293876) Homepage

          An address book with a decent search engine works just as well. To keep in contact send them an e-mail. No need to outsource this to some company that may or may not abuse the information that is in their proprietary e-mail system.

          • by DarkOx (621550)

            Now be fair they might be one of those people that thinks keeping in contact means with someone is constituted by reading their impersonal broadcast messages periodically, and broadcasting his or her own impersonal broadcast messages that the someone may more may not read.

            I really think these social networks are pushing society apart far more than drawing it together.

          • by jo_ham (604554)

            The ease of use and convenience is not only at the geek end - if you are keeping in touch with family members who think the internet is the big E, something they can use easily is a bonus.

        • by Dan541 (1032000)

          I'm not a big fan of Facebook; but it is very good for keeping long term tabs on people that you might otherwise lose contact with. When travelling internationally I have used it on more than one occasion to re-establish lost contact. In an age where people move around allot it is certainly easier than trying to track them down via family and known associates.

          But I would prefer to rely on email any other time. I can't stand the little textboxes that facebook supplies, I treat all facebook communications as

    • I really doubt this is to do with a "personal beef" against anything.

      The first thing to realize is that anti-spam systems tend to look only at the domain name parts of links (there are a few exceptions). The reason is that URL paths are "free" whereas domain names are not.

      If the pirate bay is being rejected as spammy, then the most likely explanation by far is not some Facebook corporate policy against piracy but that it's obtained a bad reputation, or possibly started showing up in an external urldomain bl

      • Re:That's nothing (Score:4, Interesting)

        by gmack (197796) <gmack@innerfir e . net> on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:01PM (#34294324) Homepage Journal

        ok.. now explain why lamebook is blocked with the following message:

        The link you are trying to visit has been reported as abusive by Facebook users. To learn more about staying safe on the internet, visit our Security Page. You can also check out the malware and phishing Wikipedia articles.

        • Who knows? Maybe it was in fact reported as abusive. Or maybe Facebook are indeed trying to control the conversation and I'm wrong.

          My point is people routinely report all kinds of things as spam. It's not uncommon for services to become identified as spammy even though the people running them don't think they're spammers. People hit "report spam" on anything they don't want, basically, especially if they can't figure out a way to get rid of it easily. For instance legit bulk mailers that have a poor unsubsc

          • I've not heard conspiricies about companies, but I do know of at least two conspiracies of individuals to flag as spam content they did not like for political reasons. The DiggPatriots had a policy of purging Digg of all liberals by reporting them as spammers (Or better still, racists) in order to get their accounts blocked, and there is an organised group of creationists on YouTube that spam-flags anti-creationist comments on pro-creationist videos.
    • Re:That's nothing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:35PM (#34294180) Homepage Journal

      Blocking sites on copyright grounds is one thing

      Half of what my friends on Facebook post could be classified as 'copyright violations'. Maybe ISP's should block Facebook.

      (you do want to play this game, Facebook, don't you?)

      • Excellent point: does Facebook really really want to get into selectively blocking messages sent through their system because of their content? Did they really think through the consequences of being responsible for a billion user posting a billion messages per day?

    • Blocking sites on copyright grounds is one thing but mis-declaring sites they have a personal beef with as the source of malicious installs is quite another.

      Though true, and though I disagree with their behavior in such things, it is still within their rights to do so. The customer(s) will choose whether such restrictions make FB's service worthwhile or not.

  • by DarkKnightRadick (268025) <the_spoon.geo@yahoo.com> on Saturday November 20, 2010 @02:35PM (#34292296) Homepage Journal

    I don't engage in gross copyright infringement, nor do I share links that condone such behavior. That being said, I do offer legitimate torrents via Demonoid (legitetorrents is a crappy tracker). If I were to share a link to my legally shared content and I was blocked, or I couldn't share links to sites like Jamendo or ClearBits, I would very much be up in arms over this. Since I do not use FB messaging, I cannot say if such services are blocked.

    The article is right, though. If FB wants to seriously become a player in the online messaging world, this content blocking garbage must stop.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cougar Town (1669754)

      Online forums and chats have been blocking URLs for years. People simply get around it by changing characters, breaking the URL up with spaces, or other things. Each system of blocking always has some way to get around it that's quite easy for a human to still understand, even non-tech people. I don't like them doing this either, but it's never been a real problem for anyone who actually wants to pass a URL along on other sites.

      • Oh I know, and I tend to not use those sites anymore (and if I encounter one, I avoid it from then on, it's just not useful to me). Unfortunately, the rest of FB is still useful for me, so again, I will just not use FB Messaging. Simple.

        That's all I was really commenting on. I'm tired of sites that try to make it hard to share links, especially when they already have designed themselves to make doing so ridiculously easy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sepodati (746220)

      Facebook isn't under any kind of obligation to link to your torrent, legal or not. If you have legal content, you can link to your own SITE where users can find torrents for your content. This leaves the question of legality on you instead of Facebook. Honestly, I'd want that one level of separation if I was running a business, also.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Sepodati (746220)

        Oh, and if your SITE primarily provides illegal (in the US) access to copyrighted files, I'd block links to that, also.

        These people that think the Internet is lawless to US citizens and they can do whatever they want because they're not "depriving anyone of anything" need to come back to reality. Get copyright law removed and then I'll defend you, but otherwise you're breaking the law.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          a hyperlink is breaking the law? go fuck yourself.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          That's the most retarded fucking bit of illogic I've seen in weeks. Let's take a few more steps down this same line of thinking:

          a) A site that contains no illegally hosted copyrighted material, yet that contains an index to the locations of both copyrighted and uncopyrighted material is illegal in your eyes.

          b) Therefore, google is illegal as it is just such a site.

          c) Internet connections are illegal as they give you access to google

          d) Computers are illegal as they give you access to the Internet

          e) Computer

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        No, Facebook isn't, but if they are providing a communications service, and I cannot use that service to link users to my content (legal or not), then it's a useless service.

        I only brought in the legality of my torrents (which are fully 100% legal to share and distribute, as I created the content and licensed it thusly) because I felt a need to clarify that I do share links to content that has been licensed for legal sharing that happens to be torrented. If FB is breaking or blocking links to legit torrent

        • by Sepodati (746220)

          There's a big difference between "this content blocking garbage must stop" and saying Facebook is a "useless service" to you. I agree that it probably is worthless to you. I wouldn't have even made my post if that was all you said. But instead, you said that something "must stop", like Facebook has some kind of obligation to support links to specific sites.

          • When a website makes it easy to link to any site you want, to start censoring the links its users share is counter-intuitive, is garbage, and must stop (or stop making link sharing so easy). They made themselves obligated to link to whatever site users posts when they made it dead easy to share links.

      • Are the messages transferred through their system their property?

        Does the US postal service has the right to look into letters to see if there's illegal content or opinions unfavorable to the USPS inside?

        Has UPS? AT&T? Google Mail? Can Skype interrupt all calls that talk negatively about Skype's call quality? Is it admissible for Apple iPhones to block websites that advertise HTC smartphones and vice versa?

        Since the consequences of this are endless, and in the appropriate political settings much more si

      • by ultranova (717540)

        Facebook isn't under any kind of obligation to link to your torrent, legal or not.

        And that rises a related and interesting question: should it be?

        The separation between "private business" and "government" made sense when the former was mainly small operations, and lack fo effective communication and fast travel made the world a huge place. As corporations have grown to rival power of nation-states, and world has become small enough for a single company to reach you anywhere, the difference has become uncle

  • by baresi (950718) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @02:36PM (#34292298) Homepage
    I am more and more convinced that the type of people who are on Facebook, let alone those who actually will use messages, are not the types to know or be savvy enough for torrents and similar activities
    • Re:Demographics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @02:42PM (#34292330)

      I am more and more convinced that the type of people who are on Facebook, let alone those who actually will use messages, are not the types to know or be savvy enough for torrents and similar activities

      I agree. It is becoming clear that FaceBook IS INDEED the new AOL.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kachakaach (1336273)

      I am more and more convinced that the type of people who are on Facebook, let alone those who actually will use messages, are not the types to know or be savvy enough for torrents and similar activities

      if you want to communicate with your relatives and certain friends, you end up with a Facebook and/or Twitter account, regardless of how "savvy" you are.

      • by MachDelta (704883)

        I use a phone, usually. For calling and texting people, I mean. The things we used to use phones for, before this all-I-use-my-phone-for-is-facebook-and-twitter crap.
        But i'm old school like that. :>

      • Why? I don't think I know anyone who has a Facebook account but not email.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I am more and more convinced that the type of people who are on Facebook, let alone those who actually will use messages, are not the types to know or be savvy enough for torrents and similar activities

        if you want to communicate with your relatives and certain friends, you end up with a Facebook and/or Twitter account, regardless of how "savvy" you are.

        Funny, about 10 years ago the same thing was being said about AOL/Instant Messenger accounts.

      • by Pharmboy (216950)

        if you want to communicate with your relatives and certain friends, you end up with a Facebook and/or Twitter account, regardless of how "savvy" you are.

        I think that is the point that people are missing. I was dragged kicking and screaming onto facebook a little over a year ago. But the fact is, it is the easiest, simplest and fastest way to keep up with friends and family, whom are scattered all over the USA. I also keep up with nieces and nephews that are somewhat close by (60m) and can just say 'hi' e

      • I just run a small Joomla website. Easy for me to pop in, squirt out a few paragraphs of "what I'm doing", upload a few photos, and publish the article. That way they can look at it, respond (a nice little moderated commenting module add-in), search, look at old posts, etc. Even have add-ins for SMS connectivity if you want to roll that way... Just browse to my site and it's all there - even easier than FB.
  • by billstewart (78916) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @02:36PM (#34292306) Journal

    He was a fun guy when he was a kid, but he's gotten to be really annoying as he's gotten older...

  • Say what you want about the morality of using file sharing services to share copyrighted material, if Facebook wishes to become a player in the email market, they cannot block content.

    I don't know that Facebook's messaging is ultimately going to be successful, because it's attempting to compete (despite what it says) with well-established and well-used tools like email and text messaging - but I doubt that blocking links to file-sharing sites is going to have an impact on its fate.

    I'm sure someone's going to make the "slippery slope" argument somewhere in this discussion, although with one data point that's hard to support.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "if Facebook wishes to become a player in the email market, they cannot block content"

    Do you honestly think most people care? If they cared about closed and controlled communications they wouldn't be using Facebook in the first place.

    This is something approximately 15 geeks care about, and of those, 14 are not even using Facebook. FB might or might not succeed, but censoring emails will not be a factor either way.

    • by unity100 (970058)
      those '15' geeks have much more activity than anyone else in the internet/web, and you can be rest assured that anything they are annoyed with will be talked by a lot of people, through communities, forums and so on. that is excluding the geeks who are actually publishing stuff, or leading communities, blogging, or doing any other thing.
      • by Sepodati (746220)

        LOL. really? You think the geeks talking about this will in any way compare the traffic about Glee, football or life in general?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by unity100 (970058)
          it does. it affects a lot of things. simplest of that, has been the case of firefox vs ie fight. firefox started from nothing. ie had everything. billions of people were being pushed ie through windows worldwide, even to the extent of thinking that it was 'internet'. (really, even i had seen a lot of people in my locale, who thought internet was ie - imagine - when the browser didnt fire up, but their messengers were on, they would say 'internet' was down). there wasnt any laws rules and regulations to prev
    • This is something approximately 15 geeks care about

      I suspect that you vastly underestimate the popularity of casual file sharing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For facebook to alter the data in emails shows they are actually looking at the email. Not just for links they don't like but for any kind of data that they can use or sell. I would go as far to mention they are mining other social networks and creating a map of people's personal lives. People mindlessly give their personal data away for free and facebook turns around and sells it to any and everyone. Who needs identity theft when you can give away all your personal info on facebook.

    Another way to look

    • Not just for links they don't like but for any kind of data that they can use or sell

      Whether or not thats true, its pure speculation, and a hell of a reach. It is trivial (in forums for example) to set up filters that scan content as they are posted and automatically perform replacements-- I created such a filter once on a bbs. Doesnt mean the data GOES anywhere besides the bbs, it just gets processed prior to posting.

      The fact that you get modded interesting is a little disturbing-- "interesting" for wild speculation and paranoia?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by grcumb (781340)

        Not just for links they don't like but for any kind of data that they can use or sell

        Whether or not thats true, its pure speculation, and a hell of a reach.

        Speculation? Possibly. A 'hell of a reach?' Not in the slightest.

        I don't have access to the Facebook code base, and without it, the evidence I present here is nothing more than circumstantial. But consider: Some months ago, Facebook suggested I might want to friend a man whose name rang no bells to me, with whom I had no friends in common. He lives in Toronto, I live on the other side of the world.

        Only after googling the name did I realise that this man runs a blog that I visit about twice a month. Once. ab

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          > So... how did Facebook create this association? The only possibilities are: ...

          3. Your Toronto contact permitted Facebook to upload the details of his e-mail address book.

          Remind me again why, if you feel that you must be on Facebook, you're not using a unique e-mail address for that site?

    • by cynyr (703126)

      Well google has lots of my info, and i really wish i could "tag" places on maps. so that searches like "work to grocery store to home" would work. Or be able to store 2-3 different routes for any starting and ending point combination in google, and do "target on my way home from work", "bank on the way to grandmas", etc.

      I'd happily trade some more info to google(i use gmail, reader, search, youtube, already)to get better routing for new places on maps.

      • by lamapper (1343009)

        I'd happily trade some more info to google(i use gmail, reader, search, youtube, already)to get better routing for new places on maps.

        And I would be happy for you, just do not REQUIRE me to do likewise and we are golden.

        Don't force me to give my phone number to use your service.

        Don't limit my OAuth options in responding to a blog. ONLY if I use Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn

        Don't force me to do anything I do not want to do, or I will choose not to participate...I will vote with my dollars and you will not see even one of them.

  • by Fractal Dice (696349) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @02:59PM (#34292422) Journal

    Facebook, you shall not cross this line! No this line. Not this line. Wait ... ok, now don't cross this line.

    Sorry, but I have a hard time seeing complaints about facebook as credible any more - surely by this point they've already driven away everyone who really cares about these sorts of things.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @03:22PM (#34292540)

      Sorry, but I have a hard time seeing complaints about facebook as credible any more - surely by this point they've already driven away everyone who really cares about these sorts of things.

      That's like saying that the people bitching about the TSA's hobsian choice between nudie photos or a rub-and-tug have no credibility because the TSA's been ratcheting up the crazy for almost a decade now and if they aren't taking the train they deserve what they get. Because of the network effect, facebook is the only practical game in town for a lot of people who want that kind of service.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        The phrase you are looking for is Morton's Fork [wikipedia.org]: a choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives. A Hobson's Choice [wikipedia.org] (not "Hobsian" as you say above) is a "take-it-or-leave-it" option: it would be a Hobson's choice if you phrased it "the TSA's Hobson's choice between going through security theater and not flying".
        • Thanks dude. Although Hobbseian Choice might have been a better phrase even if it is a neologism - since Thomas Hobbes believed that abuse of power by the state (TSA in this case) was just an inevitable part of the price for the social contract of government.

    • What makes you think it's not a sliding scale? The value of Facebook changes over time, while the deterrents to using it - namely that people hate or don't trust Facebook Inc. - also change over time. It's an unstable system, as the value is created by the users, and as users bail, that value can fall apart pretty quick. And I've got 100 shares of Friendster to prove it.

  • At least facebook seems to be blocking content based on a clear set of criteria. It's not as if they are blocking all links to Google services just because they don't like Google.

    I'm sure there were many articles declaring that Apple would have to stop blocking Apps if they wanted the iPhone to succeed but user's didn't care. And no, the recent changes in the App Store rules (and their allowing of Google Voice) were not because of pressure from users - they were from F.C.C. pressure.

    So, we here on /. migh

  • I generally know not to trust the technical savvy, honesty or intelligence of anyone who uses a yahoo.com address. I guess I can add facebook to the list.

  • Use bit.ly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by genealotech (1854354) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @03:12PM (#34292480)
    If you have a link that gets blocked by Facebook, convert the link to a bit.ly link. Then it will work.
  • You haven't been able to send torrent links for a LONG time now, at least since the first part of this year.
  • op-ed (Score:2, Funny)

    by JPickard (727790)
    Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man
  • So I worked many years ago for a USENet provider. We of course carried all groups. Everyone knew what was in USENet ad suffice to say discussion about what to do about things like the kiddie porn came up. The decision was made to shut down those groups. I mean it make's sense. Cut off access to those groups and stem the flow somewhat. Within 2 days of shutting the groups down we received a call from the FBI threatening to shut us down. They said by censoring anything we become responsible for ALL content on

    • by brit74 (831798)
      > "Within 2 days of shutting the groups down we received a call from the FBI threatening to shut us down. They said by censoring anything we become responsible for ALL content on our systems."

      Huh? Why would the FBI do that? I could understand that a lawyer might contact you and say that, by "censoring" anything you become responsible for all the content, but I don't understand why the FBI would contact you to say that. Besides, if that's true, then it seems like all the filesharing sites that remov
  • Now with our omg Face 2 Face transfer protocol that instead of peers uses faces to share torrents facebook allows users to share copyrighted content so long as they subscribe to facebook premium ultra where users let facebook setup a live streaming video webcam impanted in each users eyesockets. This lets friends keep up to the second in some other person's live, and also allows direct advertisement streaming straight to the part of the brain that controls compulsive shopping.

    Facebook Share allows users to

  • ... just hide your links in a TinyURL and proceed as normal. What's the big deal?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    From the lawyers-happy groups known as RIAA and MPAA.

  • Say what you want about the morality of using file sharing services to share copyrighted material, if Facebook wishes to become a player in the email market, they cannot block content.

    They already are a player in the email market. Besides, they're trafficking copyrighted content constantly! As in, all the photos, messages, etc. written by users.

    • by toriver (11308)

      Yeah, but they grant themselves a license to do so in the TOS... or rather the TOS say that you the copyright holder grants it to them of course.

  • Simple solution: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Beelzebud (1361137)
    Don't use Facebook... They don't value your privacy rights, or even your free speech rights. To hell with them.
    • Facebook isn't even vaguely covered by free speech. Just the government.
      • And your point is? Just because they aren't legally mandated to respect those things, doesn't mean they aren't things an informed consumer should consider.
  • Centralization (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sulfur (1008327) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @05:19PM (#34293238)
    I remember when people were concerned about their privacy and complained about Gmail mining their emails. Facebook will take it to a whole new level, complete with value-added features such as censorship. People have to understand that decentralization is the only way to go; putting all your eggs in one basket (facebook) will never lead to anything good.
  • I know there are legal exceptions due to corporate lobbying, etc. So don't go shooting me down over technicalities. I'm referring to the PRINCIPLE of being a "carrier" here in the U.S.

    This is based on past legal precedent, and the intent behind establishing "common carriers" of communications:

    If you want to be a carrier, you must not supply, alter, intercept (except by judicial warrant), or control content. Content must be in good faith delivered, intact and unaltered, from sender to receiver. Just li
  • if Facebook wishes to become a player in the email market, they cannot block content.

    This guy is kidding right? Facebook has 500 million active users, more than Hotmail. More than Gmail and Yahoo Mail combined. It is fair to say just by showing up they are a player.

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