Facebook censored my posted item

I’m a big fan of the “posted items” feature on Facebook. It’s an easy way of sharing “interesting” links that I find on the Internet without spamming my friends’ e-mail accounts or taking the time to write a whole big blog post about it. Yesterday, I posted a link to this Read-Write-Web article on Facebook censoring messages.

Although there is an option to do so, I didn’t add any of my own commentary to the post because, frankly, I didn’t really have anything to say about it – mainly because it’s entirely possible that those problems mentioned were caused by a faulty spam filter and I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to giving companies time to work the bugs out of things. Still, I thought my friends list – a group comprised mostly of librarians and thus super-interested in issues of censorship – would find the article interesting.

So I hit the “Share on Facebook” button on my browser, posted it and didn’t give it another thought.

This morning, as I do most mornings, I stumbled into my office and checked my e-mail/SNSes while waking up enough to contemplate taking a shower. I had a Facebook notification that I had received a comment from fellow law librarian Scott Frey on the censorship article. I read it, didn’t really have anything to say in response, played my Scrabulous moves and decided to get on with my day. Then, right before I logged off, I decided to re-read Scott’s comment and check to see if there was anything that I could say in response.

The comment and posted item were gone.

Now, granted, I am not a morning person. But I was 99.99% sure that there was a posted item and comment there not 5 minutes before. So I changed my status message to “Sarah is disturbed that Facebook censored her posted item about Facebook censorship.” And then I went back to my posted items list to see the hole where my posted item was. And guess what? It had somehow been restored. So then I thought, “Okay, Glassmeyer, you haven’t slept well all week, it’s before 7 am and you haven’t had any coffee. You just imagined that.” I erased my status message and hoped that not too many people saw it.

Here’s where things get a little weird and hinky.

As soon as I erased my status message, the posted item also disappeared. So I decided to do a little experiment. (I am a scientist after all….a LIBRARY SCIENTIST.) Okay, with all of the following screenshots, I deliberately didn’t crop them so that the times would show in the bottom right corner. Also click on them to enlarge. These are also getting uploaded to my flickr as soon as I post this blog post.

So, here’s my posted items list with a message that “The message contained content that either has been removed or is not visible due to privacy settings.”

My posted items with censorship notice

And here’s my profile. Note that nothing appears in my mini-feed about me posting anything. And yes, I have a bit of a problem with the Facebook games. I’ll start a twelve step program about it tomorrow.

My profile with no posted item listed

I changed my status message back to one that indicates my displeasure with Facebook’s censoring, and WITHIN SEVEN SECONDS, the posted item appears in my mini-feed.

my profile with posted item now listed

And it has also reappeared in my list of posted items.

My posted items list, now with censorship article

Lest you think Scott’s comment was somehow “offensive” here it is. It too has been restored.

Scott\'s coments

Okay, so what have we learned here, class? I don’t know. As I said, it’s one thing for something to be inadvertently caught by a spam filter. It happens – spam filtering is not an exact science and it takes a while for the engineers to get their algorithims down. And the article I linked to did mention the “stop words” and Scott’s comment used an edited version of them. But the fact that the “spam filter” seems to be tied somehow to my status message? HINKY.

I’m not a reactionary type and I’m not going to run out and cancel my Facebook account this morning. The fact remains that right now I need Facebook more than it needs me and even if I did cancel it, they have millions of other subscribers. What I am going to do is keep an eye out for other types of hinky behavior, document it and publicize it as best I can. Perhaps if there’s enough evidence, Facebook will change their behavior or enough users will get disgusted, leave and start to hit Facebook in the pocketbook. (I am a card-carrying member of the tinfoil hat brigade and I have heard the stories about Facebook’s “evil partners” but I still believe that at it’s heart, Facebook is a business and at the end of the day, the financials are going to matter most. ) And although I’m not canceling my account today, as an information professional, I am going to continue to evaluate whether or not I want myself or my library associated with Facebook.

I would also just like to say that I do know some adjectives other than “hinky”, but I still haven’t gotten around to drinking my coffee yet.


back in the saddle

-After a week of easing back into work post-vacation (read: chatting with co-workers, catching up on correspondence/reading and watching out for rats…um, without going into too much detail about that last one, let me just say this: THERE IS A REASON WE WANT YOU TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT FOOD IN THE LIBRARY, KIDS!!!), I am now back at 100%. And I learned about and/or experimented with a whole bunch of neat stuff this week. Let’s review:

– I decided to give my Twitter another chance. The last time I tried it, it seemed to be plagued with technical problems and, as I didn’t have many contacts that were real people, it all seemed sort of pointless. However, this go around I’ve added a bunch of real people and many of them are in contact with each other. Now I can see that Twitter can be used almost as a substitute for Instant Messaging. It also is a really great way of sharing links with people, especially when you don’t have a lot to say about them. As an added bonus, it hasn’t crashed on me once.

-The long awaited Facebook Chat has finally hit my network. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either. The good:

  1. I don’t have IM addresses for many of my Facebook friends, so this would be a way of contacting them if for some reason I wanted to chat.

The bad:

  1. Much like Meebo, I found it hard to remember to keep a tab open to Facebook (which is necessary to remain logged in from what I can tell) and there was no sound notification that I had a new message.
  2. The IM box was too small for my taste, but I guess I could have used the pop-out IM function.
  3. I have IM addresses for everyone I like to chat with, and I’ve consciously kept people on certain networks so that, for example, if I want to talk to X I log in to Google Talk, but if I want to talk to Y, I log into Yahoo. And actually, I’ve sort of fallen out of the chat habit lately.
  4. I’m not actually FB “friends” with my students, which is necessary for the chat function. I keep my profile open to my network and they’ve messaged (aka emailed) me through FB, but I can’t see that I’d get much student use out of it.
  5. I am peeved that it has co-opted the “notifications.” I have grown accustomed to looking at the top right hand side of my FB homepage when I log in to see if anyone has started a scrabble game or superpoked me or what have you. And now that area is blank and I am saddened by this until I remember to look down. Does that make me pathetic?

The Law Librarians in Virtual Worlds workshop had its initial webcast this week. The rest of the workshop will take place in Second Life, a platform that I heretofore have not been wildly enthusiastic about. However, I am hoping that this will be just the kick in the pants I need to really get in there. I’ve created a (new) account and have started playing around so that I’ll be able to really devote some time to it after finals. Meet my alter ego Gemma Szarbark:

Gemma Szarbark

I thought I was being all creative in having her initials being “G.S.” (whereas mine are S.G.) and making her hair blue and eyes brown (whereas mine are the opposite.) And you know, gosh darnit, I thought she was kinda hot. And then my sister posted on my Facebook wall, “Why is Mom your second life avatar?” *sigh* Oh well, back to the drawing board. Maybe I’ll become a turtle.

Thus far I’ve made it off of Orientation Island, although I think I may have left a little too early. I can walk okay, but I do seem to have the awful habit of bumping into people and things. Flying is definitely much easier. I’ve done a little exploring. This weekend is supposed to be cold and rainy, so I think I’ll spend Saturday getting better acquainted with everything.

-Found some neat blogs that have found their way into my RSS feeder:

– In the four months since I last posted about it, my FB friends list has grown significantly. Some people from high school found me, I gained a couple because of my SEALL talk, and I gained lot because of the Blue 2.0 module. I’ve sort of given up on being actual friends with my entire FB friends list. And I guess that’s okay. It’s certainly not impeding my contact with my actual friends (none of whom live in my area code) nor with my UK students and colleagues. Anyhoo, here’s what the old Friend Wheel looks like now:

Hopefully that’s too small to read any of the names clearly. I’m posting it to show the connections (green is UK; reddish orange is IU; purple is high school; light blue are law librarians). But just know that Yoko Ono finally has a mutual friend on my list.

-Typepad has created a Facebook application called “Blog It“. Instead of being a feeder for external blogs to appear in your FB newsfeed, in this case you create a post within the Facebook plateform and it sends it out to your externals sites (blogs, twitters, etc.) Does that make sense? It sort of turns the standard set up on it’s head.

The various tech blogs seem to be excited about it, but my reaction can be summed up with “meh.” Personally, I have different presences on different Web 2.0 sites because I put different types of content on each. I can’t imagine any content that I’d create that would be appropriate for all of these services. Like the FB Chat, this is just another step by the Facebook creators to make FB a one stop destination for all of one’s Internet needs. I don’t know that I see that happening, but what do I know?

Facebook and Law Libraries

I’m leaving tomorrow for SEALL, where I’m going to be doing a presentation on Facebook and Law Libraries.  I’m not sure if the slides will be posted on the SEALL website or not.  If they’re not, and you’re dying to see them, let me know and I can send you a CD.  (70 slides + lots of screen shots = too big to e-mail.)  Also, if you’re interested in Facebook and Law Libraries, check out this article in the newest issue of AALL Spectrum.

After SEALL I’m going on vacation, so no new blog posts until after April 8.

The MySpace/Facebook connection

It seems like every time someone makes the news, reporters immediately jump on Facebook or MySpace to see if there’s any information to be found.    In the case of the recent Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal, there was.

She actually didn’t have to delete everything.  She could have just limited her profile visibility to her friends or left the New York network (in the case of Facebook) or set her profile to public (in the case of MySpace.)

I hope I can remember to mention this anecdote during my SEALL talk.

My Mom Facebooked Me

I spent a good chunk of my afternoon at the annual Women’s Law Caucus luncheon, which this year honored soon-t0-be retiring UK Law Executive Dean Carolyn Bratt.   The luncheon was attended by over one hundred members of the Lexington legal community, Judges, as well as UK Law Faculty and students.  I sat with a group of students since sitting with lawyers and hearing about their 60 hour work weeks usually depress me.

Admittedly, I was zoned out for most of the lunch, thinking about ideas for my upcoming SEALL talk.  When I refocused on the table conversation, I realized the students were speaking – let’s say not favorably – about a faculty member at the law school.   I don’t even no who they were talking about, but at the exact instant that I focused in, one of the students realized I was sitting there and gave the sideways head nod in my direction to the speaker as if to say, “SHUT UP.”

At that moment, I realized that for at least some of the students, I had become “The Man.”

So what does this have to do with Web 2.0?  Well…I, like many educators on Facebook, struggle with the question of whether or not we belong on Facebook.   And if we do decide to be there, how we should behave.  Are we their “friends”? Does one “poke” a student?  Look at their profile?  Send good Karma their way?   I don’t have any answers to this, although there is a group of educators on Facebook (Faculty Ethics on Facebook) who are trying to come up with a set of guidelines for this activity.  Also see recent Chronicle articles here and here.

I recently was introduced to the feelings that my students may be having towards me when they come across my profile on Facebook.  About a month ago, I logged into Facebook to see that I had a friend request.  It was from my mother.  Yes, instead of wearing a t-shirt that says, “I Facebooked Your Mom”, I can now wear a t-shirt that says, “My Mom Facebooked Me.”  Unlike our disastrous MySpace experiment, she signed up for Facebook on her own initiative and seems to be sticking it out.

I think there’s a couple of reasons for this.  One, Facebook is much more private and she’s not getting bombarded with friend requests from strangers.  Two, her students (Have I mentioned my mom is a high school Sex Ed teacher lately? *shudder* Feel. My. Pain. ) are teenagers and thus primarily on MySpace.  Finally, and this is why I think Facebook is better than MySpace, is that she is really enjoying the applications.  Especially Srabbulous.  My mom is a FIEND for Scrabbulous.  (And, I’ll have the good folks at Hasbro know, we’re enjoying it so much that we’re probably going to go out and purchase a physical set so we can play when I’m at the farm. )  She’s not so big on the virtual gifts, though, but I have to run to a meeting in about a minute and can’t go into details about that fun experience.

But it has had some weird moments.  Like when she e-mailed me to see if I was feeling better and she only knew that because I happened to put it in my status message that I was sick. (I generally try to keep my parents on a need-to-know basis when it comes to me being sick since I’d hate for them to worry.)  And I’m waiting for the inevitable quiz down about my male friends on the site.   But so far so good, I guess.  If she can handle it, so can I.

Today’s Minor Facebook Victory

One of the reasons that Facebook has had outstanding growth, in my opinion, is because of the wide variety of applications that are available. Why are there so many available? Because Facebook opened up its platform to developers and allows pretty much anyone to create an application. For free.

Ever since I got on Facebook, I wanted an application that would allow people to search the library catalog from within Facebook. (Like the application that Duke University has.) I downloaded the Facebook developer software but after looking at some sample code provided by UIUC, I realized that it was way beyond my skill level. So I patiently waited for someone at my home institution to create the application for me.

I got tired of waiting.

Yesterday I was looking at one of the many Facebook groups for librarians and read that the Binghamton Library uses an HTML widget application to create a link to their OPAC. “Hey!” I thought, “I know HTML!” And they were also a Innovative Encore school! So I looked at the code they used and adapted it…and it still didn’t work.

I mentioned this to my co-worker Michelle (she of the awesome Facebook advertising campaign) this morning and she took a look at the code and somehow made it work. I don’t know how exactly, so let’s just chalk it up to magic. But then we couldn’t get it to load properly onto the library’s page and I figured out how to make that work. Basically, make sure you have the final version you want to appear on your page before you add the application, because otherwise it won’t let you adapt it. Also, you have to edit it through the Page Manager page, not through the regular application editor. Also, magic.

So, anyway, long story short, it is possible to make an OPAC search function for your Facebook page or profile without getting into the details of an official Facebook Application. Just use one of the many “put HTML in your profile” applications available. We used “my HTML.” If you’d like the code we used, e-mail me and I’ll be happy to send it to you.

The Internet’s Answer to Crack Cocaine

There was a point in time when this applied to me, but now I’m just a recreational user. Now I only facebook on weekends and special occassions and to take the edge off of a really bad day at work…..

What Is Facebook Addiction?

More facebook videos here.