Mysterious Facebook Problems
By James Kwak
Sometime this morning all of the links from our Facebook page back to the blog stopped working. According to Facebook, “Facebook users” had identified the page as being “abusive.” I didn’t find out until this evening, when a reader emailed me. (I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook.) When the problem started, it also applied to all of the older links from Facebook to the blog. The problem did not seem to affect links from the Facebook page to 13bankers.com.
Then, in the last half our, the problem went away, and now all the links work.
I have no idea what happened. For background, this is what usually happens. New posts on this blog go into the RSS feed. That feed gets polled periodically by Twitterfeed, which takes the title of the post and the URL (compressed using bit.ly*), appends “#fb”, and creates a new tweet from our Twitter account. (The 13bankers.com feed gets treated the exact same way.) Then the Selective Tweets application for Facebook monitors our Twitter feed; whenever it sees a tweet that ends with “#fb”, it posts it to the Baseline Scenario fan page in Facebook.**
The fact that the links to 13bankers.com continued to work seems to absolve Twitterfeed, bit.ly, and Selective Tweets. However, I have enough software experience to know that things are not necessarily that simple.
So the possibilities seem to be:
- Facebook doesn’t like bit.ly — doubtful.
- Facebook doesn’t like anything being promoted by Selective Tweets, as suggested by one commenter — quite possible. This could be a flaky problem, meaning it comes and goes. (It does seem like the problem appeared briefly on April 23 as well.)
- Facebook has some kind of algorithm that says, “if the same site gets posted too many times using something that looks like an automatic process, it’s probably spam.” But this seems doubtful, since we are far from the biggest blog that auto-posts to Facebook.
- A bunch of pro-Wall Street activists (are there such people? aren’t they called “lobbyists”?) figured out how to report to Facebook that baselinescenario.com is really a religious cult indoctrination site, and therefore someone at Facebook (or some program) shut off access to the site.
If anyone knows, or has better theories, please comment. If it happens again, someone please email us at baselinescenario at gmail dot com.
(Incidentally, ours is not the first blog this has happened to. This happened to Cake Wrecks, a blog that highlights really, really bad cakes.)
* Actually, I told Twitterfeed to use Snip instead of bit.ly, but for some reason it’s using bit.ly. But it’s been using bit.ly since long before this problem started.
** I don’t use the main Twitter app for Facebook because, at the time I was setting this up, it didn’t allow you to post your tweets onto a fan page, only onto your personal Facebook page.