A developer who created a tool that allows people to automatically unfollow friends and groups across the Facebook platform said it was permanently banned from the social networking site.
And Lewis Barclay was the creator of Unfollow Everything, a browser extension that allows Facebook users to essentially delete their news feed by unfollowing all links at once.
The platform allows users to unfollow friends, groups and Pages individually, removing content from the news feed, the algorithm-controlled beating heart of the platform.
Barclay’s tool automates this process, and immediately clears users’ news feed. And as books Barclay on his experience using the tool in an article: I can still remember the feeling of not following everything for the first time. It was almost a miracle.
“I haven’t lost anything, I can still see my friends and favorite groups by going directly to them,” he added. But I gained quite a bit of control. I no longer tend to scroll down the endless feed of content. The time I spent on the platform was significantly reduced. And my addiction to Facebook became manageable.
In response, the company sent Barclay a cease and desist letter earlier this year, saying it had violated the site’s terms of service by creating software that automates user interactions.
Barclay says the company then permanently disabled my Facebook and Instagram accounts and demanded that I agree to never create tools that interact with Facebook or its other services.
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The extension clears the Facebook news feed
Barclay points out that in addition to helping users, the tool has been used by researchers at the Swiss University of Neuchâtel to study the impact of the news feed on people’s happiness.
He says he can’t risk getting involved in court with a trillion-dollar company, so he has removed the Unfollow Everything tool.
The Barclay story emerged at a difficult time for the company. Frances Hogan appeared before Congress this week to testify about the company’s desire to grow. Which often comes at the expense of users’ welfare.
The documents that Hugin leaked include an internal search by the company. The research shows how Instagram use exacerbates physical and mental health problems for some teens. The company’s primary reaction to Hugin’s testimony has been to discredit it.
The company allows users to unfollow people individually. But automating the process makes it easy to unsubscribe from a news feed that is essential to keep users coming back. So a tool like Unfollow Everything is banned.
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