A UK developer who goes by the name Louis Barclay has been barred from Facebook as well as Instagram too. Barclay is the developer responsible for a tool created to help people essentially delete their Facebook news feeds. Barclay says he was initially served a cease-and-desist letter by Facebook before being permanently kicked off the tech giant’s platform.
Barclay created a browser extension called Unfollow Everything. Unfollow Everything automatically allows users to unfollow all their Facebook friends and pages, which results in a Facebook timeline entirely blank and without a news feed. Barclay revealed that people could still connect to their friends and family on Facebook when using the extension.
According to Business Insider, in July 2020, Barclay published Unfollow Everything on the Google Chrome store and since then has attracted massive attention from researchers at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland. These researchers were interested in studying to understanding the real impact of having zero news feed on Facebook. These researchers were also interested in knowing the amount of time spent on timelines with zero news feed.
By July 2021, lawyers of the giant tech company issued Barclay a cease-and-desist letter. Barclay recalls receiving the letter 5-hours after trying to log into his account. According to Business Insider, the letter from the law firm Perkins Coie informed him of his browser extension’s infringement on the rules of the giant tech company’s community by automating a collection of user content systems without Facebook’s permission. The letter also informed that Facebook’s terms prohibit interference with the “intended operation of Facebook” and encouraging others to break Facebook’s rules.
Barclay soon realizes his Facebook account was “disabled”. After which was informed that he had been barred from both Facebook and Instagram. Barclays tells Business Insider “I was really scared, and I was very anxious.” “Facebook’s letter took me by surprise,” he said, adding that Unfollow Everything had a total of 2,500 weekly active users and about 10,000 downloads, “It was definitely growing, but it wasn’t huge,” he said.
Barclay states that he got “amazing feedback” from people who said they “were using Facebook in a way that was much healthier for them.” Barclay explains that with responses like this, he saw his browser extension “as something that improves the Facebook experience for Facebook users.” Barclay states that he recently sought legal guidance to challenge the letter but was advised to desist because since he’s based in the UK he would be liable for Facebook’s legal costs should he lose the lawsuit to Facebook. Barclay wrote in his Slate article “Facebook is a trillion-dollar company. I couldn’t afford that risk,”
Barclay told Business Insider that “It’s really horrible to have been cut off from that for a reason that feels to me very unfair.” He explains that getting banned after maintaining a Facebook account for the past 15 years was a sincerely a huge blow to him, especially because he uses Facebook and its Messenger app to connect with friends around the world.
Nonetheless, Barclay has taken the fact that he is off the social community in good fate and is somewhat grateful for helping to reduce his addiction. Barclay discloses that “I’ve been trying to reduce my usage of Facebook for years now, including by making tools like Unfollow Everything. So I’m actually pretty grateful to Facebook that they’ve helped me take my addiction levels down to a flat zero”
Facebook is yet to comment on this.