San Francisco: Facebook has reportedly banned a developer from its site who made a tool that lets people automatically unfollow friends and groups on the platform.
Louis Barclay was the creator of “Unfollow Everything,” a browser extension that allowed Facebook users to essentially delete their News Feed by unfollowing all their connections at once, The Verge reported.
Facebook allows users to individually unfollow friends, groups and pages, which removes their content from the News Feed, the algorithmically-controlled heart of Facebook.
Barclay’s tool automated this process, instantly wiping users’ News Feed.
“I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was near-miraculous. I had lost nothing, since I could still see my favourite friends and groups by going to them directly,” Barclay wrote of his experience using the tool in a recent article for Slate.
“But I had gained a staggering amount of control. I was no longer tempted to scroll down an infinite feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically. Overnight, my Facebook addiction became manageable,” he added.
In response, Facebook sent Barclay a cease-and-desist letter earlier this year, saying he’d violated the site’s terms of service by creating software that automated user interactions.
Barclay said the company then “permanently disabled my Facebook and Instagram accounts” and “demanded that I agree to never again create tools that interact with Facebook or its other services”.
Barclay notes that in addition to helping users, his “Unfollow Everything” tool was being used by researchers at the Swiss University of Neuchâtel to study the effects of the News Feed on people’s happiness.
He said he couldn’t risk tangling in court with a trillion-dollar company like Facebook and so simply removed the tool.