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Facebook Goes After Greasemonkey Script Developer 375

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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  • by assassinator42 ( 844848 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:06AM (#31622424)

    You can hide all news feed posts from a certain application without using any addons. I don't see why they would be against this. I half-expected the "going after" him in the headline was to offer him a job before reading the summary.

  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:12AM (#31622470)

    It doesn't even go that far. They merely suggest to your browser that the content be downloaded/displayed. The greasemonkey script just ignores the suggestion.

  • Re:EULA (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:22AM (#31622522)

    To some extent. Ars Technica recently ran a short experiment where content was hidden if it looked like someone was running an ad blocker.

    Note that these detection scripts are generally like 4 lines of javascript that depend on the fact that ad blockers look for urls patterns like "ads/*". If any site actually started seriously doing this, it would be easily worked around and probably turn into an arms race that the site would lose.

  • by jack2000 ( 1178961 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:23AM (#31622532)
    loopback is messy, use instead. No connections to your own host, i actually run a simple http webserver on my machine.
  • lite.facebook.com (Score:3, Informative)

    by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:43AM (#31622638) Journal

    having lite set as default, and having the switcher link for those times when the feature is not yet ready in lite, helps greatly.

  • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:12AM (#31622754) Homepage Journal

    No distribution is happening, which means no copyright infringement is taking place.

  • What threat? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:18AM (#31622774) Homepage

    The link in the Slashdot article links to a blog which links to a Facebook page which links to an ad-heavy web site and a Twitter log. Nowhere is the actual "legal threat" defined.

    If the legal threat is real, post it to Chilling Effects. [chillingeffects.org]

  • by comm2k ( 961394 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:19AM (#31622782)
    http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account [facebook.com]
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=16929680703 [facebook.com]
    Do not login into your account after that for at least 14 days, otherwise it will be re-activated. I do not know if this actually works since I do not have a facebook account. I remember that before this was available facbook would only 'de-activate' your account and you could always come back with all your contacts/infos/photos etc. - but this is supposedly the real deal.
  • by iJusten ( 1198359 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:41AM (#31622890)
    Facebook has inbuilt "ignore this"-feature. Every post has an X on the top-right corner, click it, and you can choose do you want to ignore application or the user who spams your newsfeed (in case you don't want to lose him/her from your friendlist). I did this months ago, and since then I've forgotten that Mafia Wars even exist.
  • Re:What threat? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Little_Professor ( 971208 ) <littleprof@do[ ]it.com ['dge' in gap]> on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:43AM (#31622898) Journal
    They aren't making him remove the script. The summary (and the script's author's site) are misleading.

    This is purely a trademark issue. Initially the guy called his script Facebook Purity, a clear violation of FB's trademark. He changed the name to Fluff Buster Purity but also still markets it as F***B*** Purity, which is again a violation of Facebook's trademark, albeit a little more tenous.

    If he just changes the name to something else there will be no issue. Noone is forcing him to take down his script, he just has to rename it to something that doesn't violate Facebook's trademark. Facebook are being no more evil than the Mozilla corporation who tightly control the Firefox trademark, even though the software itself is open source (hence Iceweasel etc and other silly names for adaptations of the software).
  • by ZxCv ( 6138 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @04:12AM (#31623004) Homepage

    FB Purity blocks entire categories of posts: all application posts, 'x became a fan of y' posts, and others.

    Facebook's built-in hiding is done on a app-by-app and person-by-person basis. So every stupid new app that comes out has to be hidden individually.

  • Is it even needed? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @04:27AM (#31623064) Homepage

    Facebook makes it easy to block applications - when a Farmville/Mafia wars post appears in your intray you just say "block this application" and you'll never see it again.

  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @04:41AM (#31623118)

    I see no details in the article. Looking at the developer's site [site50.net], it seems their actions are:

    - Shutting down the facebook profile associated with the script. This is poor behaviour, but entirely within their rights: it's their web site, if they don't want to support stuff like this it is their choice to do so.
    - Threaten to take legal action to seize control of a domain called "facebookplus.org", which the author claims is entirely unrelated to him.

    So, what's the big fuss about? The former is annoying, but hardly "threatening to close him down"; the second appears to be a case of mistaken identity which will go away if he ignores it. Or is there some other threat I haven't seen?

  • by Jesus_666 ( 702802 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @04:47AM (#31623168)
    Actually it seems that the case is entirely about him using their trademark in the name of his script (which is why it has been renamed now). The EFF would just shrug and tell him that a) they're within their rights to defent their trademark and b) they actually don't even have much of a choice about it.
  • Missing the point (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Friday March 26, 2010 @04:56AM (#31623212) Journal

    Lots of people here are totally missing the point.

    Facebook isn't trying to stop people from writing scripts that modify the content of the page (get rid of spam), and if it were to go to court, this would not be the subject of the court case. The actual complaint is a trademark violation one for using the term "Facebook", and later, "FB". It also seems their lawyers are unable to do a whois search because they are also demanding he turns over a domain to them that he doesn't actually own.

    However, the "cease and desist" (from the scant information that's actually avaialble if you go to the author's web page) is solely about trademark issues. Nothing about what the script actually does. This may or may not be heavy handed, I don't know - but what I can tell is that it has nothing at all to do with what the script does, merely what it was called.

  • by thijsh ( 910751 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @05:54AM (#31623524) Journal
    If you really want to get out of Facebook completely try to commit suicide: http://suicidemachine.org/ [suicidemachine.org]
    Facebook tried to fight them, so here is some more Streisand effect for you. :)
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:50AM (#31623840)

    loopback is messy, use instead. No connections to your own host, i actually run a simple http webserver on my machine.

    Huh? Unless you've configured your webserver to only bind to specific addresses, then is practically the same as loopback.
    Try it yourself - "ssh" (or just "ssh 0" - does the same thing with a lot less typing).

  • by paziek ( 1329929 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:28AM (#31624048)

    Thats weird. Here in Poland you can ask company/whoever to delete your personal data and they have to comply. And I mean DELETE, not stop displaying. It means no backup, not on paper, not anywhere.
    If you don't comply with such request, you will be forced to stop using ALL your personal data storage, in with case if Facebook had (they do?) some data center in Poland, they couldn't use it anymore, at least not for personal data.

    Seems like a common sense for me, keeping snapshots of personal data even tho that person doesn't want you to? What the shit?

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain