Thursday, 24 January 2008

Banned from Facebook


In a moment I'm going to ask you to support the most unusual campaign we have ever launched -- but first, some background.

Blackadder: Banned from Facebook Facebook, the social networking website, is getting a lot of attention these days. In the trade union movement, there are differences of opinion about how useful Facebook actually is. Some of us are making a real effort to find out by using Facebook as an organizing tool.

One of them is senior LabourStart correspondent Derek Blackadder, from Canada. Derek's day job is as a staffer for the country's largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). He's one of the people who thinks Facebook is potentially quite useful for trade unionists.

Well, maybe not so much anymore.

You see, a few days ago, Derek was banned from Facebook.

I'll let John Wood from the U.K. tell the story in his own words:

Derek got a note from the good book, telling him he was trying to add too many friends, and should calm down a bit, or else. Now as a union organiser, he’s quite likely to want to add lots of friends - it’s kind of what he does. So he waits a bit and tries again, and is told he can’t add any more at the moment and to wait and try later. Fair enough. He waits a bit more and tries again, same message. By now, he’s probably frothing at the mouth and muttering "must organise, must organise", so he has another go to see if the coast is clear, and promptly gets himself a ban. That being a ban from Facebook itself - no more profile, no access to the stuff he’s built up, no appeal.

John has launched a Facebook group to sign people up to protest the ban on Derek. I am writing to ask each and every one of you to take a moment and sign up to join the group. If you are not yet signed up on Facebook, join the 60,000,000 others who have done so and sign up.

We know that this isn't nearly as important as most of the other campaigns we do on LabourStart -- and if you read all of John's article you'll detect a somewhat light-hearted tone.

Still, as social networks become more and more important, our access to them as trade unionists must be protected. These are early days yet -- I know that most of you are not yet signed up to Facebook. This is good time to see whether we can mobilize the kind of support -- the thousands of names -- that will force the owners of Facebook to reverse course and allow Derek to do what he does so well: organize.

Thanks for your help on this. And spread the word!

Eric Lee

This message was sent from Eric Lee , 51 Briarfield Avenue, London, UK N3 2LG, United Kingdom.

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eric said...

Happily, Facebook has responded by restoring Derek's account and apologizing. There is power in a union!

Second Life Left Unity said...

Yip - there sure is. Those who produce should take control! :)

An update has been added to the blog. Well done everyone!

Facebook said...


I’ve heard this idea before. Who thinks there should be some sort of Facebook Union?

Essentially, it’s just like any other type of union. If one of us gets banned unfairly, we all stop using the site. They have to listen to the masses…

Many of us here are highly influential individuals, and we should all agree on the following:
1) Convicted individuals need a way to plead for their innocence and individuals who are not in violation of any rules should have restored accounts.
2) All rules should be stated clearly on the site, and non-damaging first-time violations of rules that are not made clear should be dealt with through a warning.

I’m going to be creating a Gmail account and all who are interested in becoming part of the Facebook Union can email me at

All will be valued here.