Jack Yan
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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006.



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14.06.2014

My forced Facebook sabbatical

It’s been an interesting day with a forced Facebook sabbatical: I can no longer post, comment or like on the site, and it’s been that way since 3 a.m. GMT.
   I’d say I’m a fairly heavy Facebook user. There haven’t been that many days when I haven’t posted since I was sent an invitation by Paul Heck back in 2007, and when I last downloaded all my data, some years back, it was 3 Gbyte worth. It’d easily be double that today.
   So not having access to Facebook any more makes you realize how habitual it has become.
   I find that between bouts of work, I’d look in. I still do that even though I know I can’t interact on the site. I still can read others’ statuses (and send direct messages) but it seems normal to like the odd thing, a function I no longer have. In fact, one friend who I was in touch with expressed that he thought it was odd I had not liked some of his work, because that had become normal as well. It became a way of telling someone you cared.
   What I probably miss most is this: I’d share jokes on the place. Facebook seems to be the medium in which I do that today, instead of email. As I said in a blog post a while back in the wake of Timeline’s launch, it gives instant gratification: you know when you’ve got a favourable reaction. It’s a source of entertainment, too, and much of that came from socializing with silly puns and the like. Good brain exercise as well as providing a bit of levity.
   Being unable to access my own groups is a problem. I’m not sure if I can delete dodgy threads on them presently, but this shows how much I’ve come to use those groups for hobbies—to the point where I quite often learn about things from them. At least one is for work.
   Day one sans Facebook hasn’t been quite enough to alter my habits massively, since I’ve been occupied on other things. But it has made me aware of when I do go on the site and what I actually value on it. And it is to share a good laugh, in lieu of having a pint at a pub.
   It makes you wonder: where is the substitute? It hasn’t been on Tumblr, Twitter or Instagram, which I frequent. They have each evolved into narrow categories: Tumblr for visual stimulation, Twitter for quick comments, Instagram for sharing images and following some hobbies. Weibo has been more cathartic for me, rather than a place I interact. Google Plus is just where I post articles about Google.
   A friend and I Skyped this morning, in the small hours, and concluded again, as people have many times, that the next grand site will offer something so different, and so important to us, that Facebook will be seen as old hat and quaint. It was inevitable, as I repeated my story on how no one could have seen the fall of Altavista as 1998 ticked over. But, right now, if you find yourself Facebookless—and not by choice—it does leave a void in your routine in 2014. Believe me, I didn’t want to admit that.

One unlikely thought crossed my mind: what if it doesn’t come back? What if I found the limits of Facebook? After all, the error messages have all said that the bug is momentary, and to try back in a few minutes. It’s been 12½ hours so far, but Facebook time and real time are usually different things. I’ve been tracking bugs for years on Get Satisfaction, and things take at least half a year to get right at Facebook. For a start, a bug where one could not tag someone by their first name took six months to fix. The bug where New Zealanders could not see their Facebook walls on the 1st of each month took over six months to remedy since the first report (October 1, 2011; the last was April 1, 2012). It took 19 months for Lucire to secure its name on Instagram (well, it took a couple of days once it got to someone who cared—just like Blogger). It took three years for a Facebook page map for That Car Place to be correctly positioned in Upper Hutt and not Hamilton (since Facebook seemed to confuse owner Stephen Hamilton’s surname with his location, even though they were put in to the correct fields).
   This latest bug is particularly difficult because, despite finding pages where I could report it, I can’t post. The bug is that I can’t feed in anything, so what is the point of offering a comment box, when the message won’t “stick” or be sent? It is the equivalent of a giant poster asking, ‘Are you illiterate? If so, please write to …’
   Asking a friend to post on my wall on my behalf is useless, too, since one friend attempted to in the evening and also got an error; while another friend, also wanting to help me out, couldn’t see the wall at all. It plainly wouldn’t load, which is what I find on a cellphone browser like Dolphin.
   Trying to use Facebook to log in to an app does give a slightly different message: there is a link to an explanation on what is happening. This is absent everywhere else. Facebook claims that they are updating a database where my account is. It must be a very special database because I’ve seen fewer than half a dozen Tweets complaining of the same problem today.

No Facebook access

   However, I’ve become wary of explanations from big Bay Area websites, since few of them hold true.
   It brings back memories of Vox (no relation to the current site at the same URL) in 2009. Those of you who knew me from blogging there will recall the story: the posting window would take two days to come up for me. (It should take a second.) Six Apart, the then-owners of Vox, kept getting me to look at various things, or blamed my ISP, before I got fed up with the excuses. This went on for months.
   I eventually said, out of frustration: ‘Here is my email and here is my password. Use them at Six Apart headquarters in San Francisco. If you can get that posting window to appear instantly, I will admit it is my problem and shut up.’
   The end result was they couldn’t, either, but it took such a drastic action before I was believed, and I wasn’t some guy who didn’t know “how to internet properly”.
   I’ve seen Google outright lie—as some of you have seen on this blog—and I just wonder about Facebook right now. I’ve probably filed the greatest number of Facebook bugs of anyone at Get Satisfactionsince you can get blocked from Facebook and accused of abuse if you file them at the site itself—to keep a record of just how the site is disintegrating. What it says on the tin and what it does are becoming two very separate things.

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Filed under: business, internet, technology, USA—Jack Yan @ 15.52

13 Responses to ‘My forced Facebook sabbatical’

  1. jaklumen says:

    *sigh* I’ve been told flat-out that Bay Area techies have got a real condescending attitude problem. There’s a reason why the beta-testers of Google Glass are called “Glassholes”. Oh, and keeping up with Daisy Barringer via Twitter… um, long story about someone I call a “Breck shampoo girl” who was trolling her about an article about calling San Francisco “Frisco”. It’s either software engineer social ineptness, or social media melodramatics, I guess.

  2. Jack Yan says:

    Probably both. I have personally found the Google people I have contacted (with the exception of Rick Klau) to be arrogant and out of touch with reality. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was the prevailing attitude in some of the firms there, especially the big ones like Google and Facebook. I’m not holding my breath for Facebook to be fixed—22½ hours and counting.

  3. Toni Reid says:

    “They have each evolved into narrow categories: Tumblr for visual stimulation, Twitter for quick comments, Instagram for sharing images and following some hobbies.” I beg to differ, regarding Tumblr. For example, there are many science and nature blogs that whilst they draw you in with visual images, have informative text. Then there are the text posts that evolve with additional comments from each reblogger. I find these are quite unique to Tumblr. Tumblr has the potential to be much more interactive than it currently is, if only someone would come up with an easy way to reply to posts and chat.

  4. Jack Yan says:

    Hi Toni: I was only referring to my usage of these platforms, not everyone’s (as they are bound to differ).

  5. […] A few weeks ago, what happened to me on Vox in 2009 happened here on Facebook. The difference was it was eventually remedied after 69 hours (Vox could not fix this over 6·9 weeks).    I could no longer post, comment or like anything. Back at the end of 2009, my profile on Vox became so corrupted (through no fault of my own) that it would take up to two days before the compose window would come up (I would press ‘Compose’ regularly to see if the window would show and it would take two days of pressing before it would come up). Six Apart kept blaming this on me, my ISP, living in New Zealand, traceroutes, cookies, and the rest, until, at the end, I said: here are my username and password. If you can log in and get the window from your HQ, I’ll shut up.    And they couldn’t. But there was never a solution. I had to leave because I could not compose a post any more.    A year later, Vox was dead.    I’m used to having corrupted profiles, whether it’s with Google, my telephone company, or with Facebook. No big company seems to be able to keep my data, and that’s probably a good thing. But what was bothersome is that spammers could still sign up for new accounts. You’ll remember that the biggest keywords on Vox for 2009–10 were Indian escort agencies, and those guys spammed the place like crazy. I was spending more and more time reporting spam accounts to Vox.    When I was Facebook-less last month, I noticed the same. As with Vox, I could read other accounts. I could see group activity. And, for the past year, I would see bot accounts regularly, some allowed to be on Facebook for well over half a year. As on Vox, I would report them regularly. I’d find a minimum of two a day, and I’ve reported up to seventeen a day, trying to join my groups. I’ve just reported 11.    People keep forecasting when Facebook would die, citing all kinds of reasons, such as new social networks, people getting bored of it, etc. But I wonder if the spammers will kill it eventually, to the point where there are hundreds of millions of spam accounts, hogging resources meant for legitimate users. […]

  6. […] bans are like Facebook blackouts or Google blacklists: no matter what the company says your time-out is, it’s considerably longer. […]

  7. […] used machines; but it seems the configurations make no difference.    I am reminded how a year ago I had even less on Facebook. Quite a number of users were blocked for days (Facebook isn’t open on weekends, it seems), but […]

  8. […] four that have responded to me, we are all heavy users. Just as I theorized back in June 2014 when Facebook shut down for me for 69 hours, some of us have reached a limit on their servers.    Boffins, and Facebook, say that […]

  9. […] P.P.P.P.P.PS.: For those who might find Andrew’s method too technical, the current wisdom is to wait it out. It does appear to take days, however. Reminds me of the time Facebook stopped working for me for 69 hours in 2014. […]

  10. […] some suggestion that you can ignore the warnings and log into Facebook several days later—the same thing that has happened to users in the past whose Facebook accounts have become faulty due…. Coincidence? […]

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