Why no one has made a tool to turn off Facebook oversharing

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/20/asymmetric-warfare.html




I am not sure I believe this claim. A simple macro can push the right buttons. How would you go about outlawing that?

If you got fiddly with the API, sure, but that’s not the only way, is it?

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Cory didn’t really explain what code or law is in the way of such a tool. I agree that if we can fight parking tickets and get airline ticket refunds programmatically there is no reason why we can’t change fb settings with their web interface.

The larger issue of walled gardens is real and important to address but this not a great example.

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I look at browser extensions like FB Purity and Social Fixer which aim to resolve some of Facebook’s obnoxious UI problems, and they’re constantly racing to stay ahead of little changes to Facebook code and their accompanying bugs. I might be slightly inclined to believe that only a major entity – one that would be seriously endangered by a stiff legal challenge – would have the resources to not only design such a tool, but also keep it up to date and responsive to whatever curveballs Facebook throws at it. But only slightly inclined.


From @doctorow 's article @ eff.org:

But they can’t. Not without risking serious legal consequences, at least. A series of court decisions—often stemming from the online gaming world, sometimes about Facebook itself—has made fielding code that fights for the user into a legal risk that all too few programmers are willing to take.

Which law would I be breaking if I made a tool to manipulate a user’s Facebook privacy settings, operating in a browser plugin and without referring to any site of my own? The three lawsuits mentioned in the article don’t seem related to this use case at all.


I’m constantly surprised at how FB Purity manages to survive. It’s a great utility, but it is constantly engaged in an arms race with FB that, so far, it seems to be winning.
BTW, Facebook gives an interesting response if you try to post the FB Purity web address in a post.

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