Authors declaring war on Facebook

Werthead

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Authors China Mieville and George R.R. Martin are in the process of trying to get Facebook to remove copyrighted material from their website. Mieville has gone as far as publishing an open letter explaining his concerns:

Facebook
1601 S. California Avenue
Palo Alto
CA 94304
USA
6 October 2010

Dear Facebook People,

URGENT COMPLAINT– PLEASE READ, MORE ACTION TO FOLLOW SHORTLY

1) The short version:

At least one person, if not more, is/are impersonating me on Facebook, with (a) fake profile(s) claiming my identity. Despite me repeatedly bringing this to your attention, you have taken no action to remedy the situation. And I’m getting very annoyed.

2) The full version:

This thing you hold is called a letter. This is the third time I’ve contacted you, and I’m doing so by this antiquated method because, and I realise this may shock you so brace yourself, I have no Facebook account. Which means it is nigh-on impossible for me to get in touch with you. Kudos for your Ninja avoidance strategies.

Back when you had a button allowing me to alert you to a fake profile despite not having an account myself, I contacted you that way. I was answered with a resonant silence. Subsequently, when the problem persisted, I hunted lengthily for, found and left a message on the phone number you go out of your way to hide. Absolutely nothing happened. So here we go again: third time’s a charm.

I am being imitated on Facebook. I believe the only reason anyone is bothering to do this is because I’m a novelist (published by Macmillan and Random House), a writer and broadcaster, with a minor public profile. I think there are one or two community pages about my stuff on Facebook – that of course is very flattering and nice of people to bother. The problem is that there is or are also pages by someone(s) purporting to be me. This is weird and creepy. What’s worse is I know for a fact that some readers, friends and colleagues are friending ‘China Miéville’ under the impression that it is me, and that others are wondering why ‘China Miéville’ refuses to respond to them. And I have no idea what dreadful things or ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes’ are being claimed as mine, nor what ‘I’ am saying.

I know lots of people enjoy being on Facebook. Great. More power to them. Vaya con Dios. Me, though: not my thing. I have absolutely no interest in it. I am not now nor have I ever been a Facebook member. Short of some weird Damascene moment, I will not ever join Facebook – and if that unlikely event occurs, I promise I’ll tell you immediately. In the meantime, though, as a matter of urgency, as a matter of courtesy, as a matter of decency, please respond to my repeated requests:

• Please delete all profiles claiming to be me (with or without the accent on the ‘é’ – last time I looked, I found one ‘China Mieville’, and one more accurately rendered).
• Please do not allow anyone else to impersonate me. I have neither time nor inclination to trawl your listings regularly to see if another bizarre liar has sprung up.
• And while you’re at it, please institute a system whereby those of us with the temerity not to sign up to your service can still contact you on these matters and actually get a [insert cuss-word] answer.

I appeal to you to honour your commitments to security and integrity. Of course as a multi-gajillion-dollar company I have absolutely no meaningful leverage over you at all. If David Fincher’s film doesn’t embarrass you, you’re hardly going to notice the plaintive whining of a geek like me. All I can do is go public. Which is my next plan.

I’m allowing a week for this letter to reach you by airmail, then three days for you to respond to me by phone or the email address provided. Then, if I’ve heard nothing, on 16 October 2010, I’ll send copies of this message to all the literary organizations and publications with which I have connections



some of the many books bloggers I know; and anyone else I can think of. I’ll encourage them all to publicise the matter. I’m tired of being impersonated, and I’m sick of you refusing to answer me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
China Miéville

Martin's concern is over a specific page which is reprinting his blog entries and photographs without permission. Both authors seem to be indicating that legal action will follow unless Facebook deal with the situation ASAP.
 
I thought at least half of these were fan pages anyway and just updating info as the official site updates. This seems like free publicity IMO.
 
Except, if someone has established themselves with a false identity, purporting to be China, then they deserve everything they get, and so do Facebook - especially since they seem to be ingnoring properly worded requests for actions that are illegal. If Facebook think being large and distant is any consolation then the saying :"Be you ever so high, the Law is above you." should come into play pretty rapidly.

I hope both writers sue the crap out of them.
 
Boneman - In that case sue away. The only problem is that there is no way for Facebook to ID you correctly therefore there are impostors all over the site. I think that these celebs should get their profiles loaded via the publishers etc. at least there is a common portal to view like authors at 1 place and hopefully the page is also legit.
 
"I appeal to you to honour your commitments to security and integrity."

Hahahaha, the naivete. If they knew anything about facebook, they'd know Mark Zuckerberg has no integrity and his commitment is not to security, but the opposite. He uses facebook to collect personal information about people and sells it to anyone willing to pay a penny for it. He also constantly changes the security settings and makes people "opt out" of information sharing rather than opt in because he has publicly said his goal is to basically remove privacy and promote public sharing of private information. Try deleting your facebook account... it's almost impossible. I'm willing to bet he figures that if George and China won't bow down to his empire, he's perfectly happy to settle for imposters as long as it adds to the impression that only his universe can offer EVERYTHING to the brain dead masses. He may take down the fake profiles if he's sued, but he's sure not going to continue to monitor it... George and China will have to keep checking themselves. Of course, his goal is to force them to sign up just to avoid this sort of thing and control their own information.

Ok, end rant. I'm sorry, but I REALLY hate facebook and find it a very disturbing entity. I did manage to delete mine, but now may be forced to open a new one because I parted ways with my job and sadly have no other way of contacting some people that I want to tap for networking or recommendation purposes. Facebook and twitter are enough to make me religious again because they HAVE to be signs of the end times...
 
I stopped using Facebook a few months ago because I was fed up with all the privacy concerns. Of course I never put anything really private on there, like my snail-mail address or phone number, but it was still really tiresome having to keep track of it all - and dodge all the pointless recommendations on who to "friend". I stay on Twitter because some kind of social networking is expected these days and it's less egregious than FB.

I don't know if my account has been deleted - maybe I should ask one of my friends who are still on there...
 
I stopped using Facebook a few months ago because I was fed up with all the privacy concerns. Of course I never put anything really private on there, like my snail-mail address or phone number, but it was still really tiresome having to keep track of it all - and dodge all the pointless recommendations on who to "friend". I stay on Twitter because some kind of social networking is expected these days and it's less egregious than FB.

I don't know if my account has been deleted - maybe I should ask one of my friends who are still on there...
You have to actively delete your account. Even then it takes 2 weeks.
 
I love FB. Even though it is owned by the CIA. Anyways, there is no possible way to stop people from pretending to be someone or something they are not on the Internet. Well, not until the totalitarians implement automatic video facial recognition to log into the Internet. Unfortunately in our current system of "free" Internet there are going to be undesirables. Facebook, Twitter, Google, GoDaddy, ect have NO OBLIGATION to ensure the privacy or identity of ANY user. I just Google'd China with over 100K results....a few K of which were torrents...and therefore not legitimate and likely copyright infringements. If Facebook forced information..my SSN, DL, and CC numbers then I wouldn't use it, because that would be breach of my privacy.

I do not think that Facebook has any obligation to regulate identities of its user base. I do think that China should FORCE facebook to deliver the private information of the individual and sue the individual, in the same manner that corporations are suing individuals for downloading i.e. copyright infringement by gaining originating IP addresses.

Facebook is a vehicle. The individual user is the impostor with the obligation.

I mean, you don't sue a car company because someone drove it while drinking?
 
I love FB. Even though it is owned by the CIA. Anyways, there is no possible way to stop people from pretending to be someone or something they are not on the Internet. Well, not until the totalitarians implement automatic video facial recognition to log into the Internet. Unfortunately in our current system of "free" Internet there are going to be undesirables. Facebook, Twitter, Google, GoDaddy, ect have NO OBLIGATION to ensure the privacy or identity of ANY user. I just Google'd China with over 100K results....a few K of which were torrents...and therefore not legitimate and likely copyright infringements. If Facebook forced information..my SSN, DL, and CC numbers then I wouldn't use it, because that would be breach of my privacy.

I do not think that Facebook has any obligation to regulate identities of its user base. I do think that China should FORCE facebook to deliver the private information of the individual and sue the individual, in the same manner that corporations are suing individuals for downloading i.e. copyright infringement by gaining originating IP addresses.

Facebook is a vehicle. The individual user is the impostor with the obligation.

I mean, you don't sue a car company because someone drove it while drinking?

I beg to differ. Facebook has a "duty of care", just as any other legal person (corporations are legal persons), to its "neighbours", while in the course of its business, to not cause them damage due to its negligence. Facebook was put on notice, several times, by China M., that someone or someones were using Facebook to damage China's reputation by impersonation. At this point, Facebook had an active duty to pull the accounts. It has callously disregarded the notice, and has thereby aggravated China M.'s damage. Furthermore, if it was "reasonably foreseeable" that Facebook's set-up led to this kind of abuse, and if there is a reasonable repair that will solve the problem, then Facebook is legally responsible for China M.'s damage.

You may not sue a car company for damage if you get hit by a drunk driver, but you do if the drunk driver's gas tank explodes because of the poor way it was designed. That Facebook could not foresee that there would be attempts at identity theft/impersonation on its site is without a doubt. That they could not have taken some steps to deal with impersonation is unquestionable. That they can remove proven impersonators is a certainty. Facebook is in the glue, here, and badly, and the publicity is not good.

China M. needs a Dave Carroll (he's the guy whose guitar (a beautiful Taylor) was broken by United Airlines, and whose song went viral (9.4 million plays on Youtube)) song:

YouTube - United Breaks Guitars
 
Facebook does NOT have a duty of care to monitor & validate & run background checks on its members. May as well sue Google for torrent sites that pirate works, also.

Why is it Facebook's fault that China has impersonators? Do these impersonators NOT exist anywhere else on the entire Internet? I know, lets sue the entire Internet, because the individual obviously has no responsibility for their own actions.

It has been found in courts of law that the websites are NOT NOT NOT responsible for their user's individual uses, in everything from child porn to suicide from Internet bullying.

The duty of care lies with the individual.

Facebook just has a massive number of users.

The individual user can be easily found via IP address and subpoena-ing the information from the service provider.

Facebook has never signed or made any illusion that it has a responsibility to any person to ensure each individual person is a legitimate person.
 
Facebook has never signed or made any illusion that it has a responsibility to any person to ensure each individual person is a legitimate person.

Companies cannot simply state that laws, should they exist**, do not and cannot apply to them. (Products from the US bought in the UK over the counter are subject to UK law, for example, whatever weasel words are used in the accompanying documentation.)



** - I do not know under which laws and legal framework*** - federal, state, county (city?) - Facebook operates, and so cannot say whether Facebook is infringing them, either deliberately, negligently or by omission.


*** - I understand that company law is (often?) state-based in the US.
 
Yes, these sites could be taken down. Then they'd appear again as soon as everyone was looking the other way.

It's a kind of Canute thing.

I know China - my husband interviewed him about a year ago for Horizon Review - and he's a great guy. But I fear he may only win this fight temporarily, if at all. As someone said above, it's like these pirate sites that steal books. They can be pulled, on the copyright holder's request, but then they reappear. Within 24 hours, sometimes. Because there are people out there who are simply criminals, and no one has yet discovered an effective way to police the net. It may be impossible to do, in fact, due to its very nature.

I love Facebook. I live on it, and on Twitter. It's perfect for writers, who often spend long hours of every day alone. All those lovely strangers to argue with when the current manuscript becomes too much. Though I actually know a surprisingly large number of my c. 950 friends in real life. But then, I've spent 15 years as a travelling poet and editor, and there are just so many poets out there, and poetry nights ... I do my best, but it's hard to avoid meeting the blighters.
 
The point is that these people are committing fraud and, having been advised of this, facebook is now abetting that fraud.

Last time I looked, that was a criminal offence, and certainly in CM's case, grounds for prosecution if FB doesn't take action against the perpetrators.
 
Facebook has never signed or made any illusion that it has a responsibility to any person to ensure each individual person is a legitimate person.

Actually, it has. Its terms of service say people cannot create fake profiles. That creates an expectation that its rules will be enforced and those with fake profiles will be removed. Facebook isn't doing this.
 

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