“Unfollow Everything”: Facebook takes massive action against tool for clean newsfeed

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A British developer has allegedly been locked out of Facebook for life for distributing a tool to easily clean up the news feed. As Louis Barclay explains in a post at Slate, he has developed the browser extension “Unfollow Everything”, which empties the news feed of Facebook users. To do this, as the name suggests, it automatically unfollows all friends, groups and pages to which their accounts are linked. The friendships and connections are not removed, but only locked out of the newsfeed – and can also be re-entered manually. The effect is “almost magical”, you have the feeling of regaining control, writes Barclay. The reaction of the Facebook group was drastic.

Facebook’s newsfeed is that endless stream of entries that is the heart of the social network on PC and mobile that keeps people on the platform, as Barclay explains. For Facebook, however, it is also a central source of income, because a lot of advertisements land here, with the display of which the network earns money. Barclay is convinced that without the news feed in its current form, the average time spent on Facebook would drop significantly. A few years ago he noticed that the newsfeed can be completely emptied if you unfollow all friends, groups and pages. The rest of the page can still be used normally. In addition, the newsfeed can also be curated in a targeted manner and only follow those pages whose articles you want to see here, the developer explains.

But because unfollowing all pages is a laborious and extremely time-consuming process that can be easily automated, he has “Unfollow Everything” entwickelt and made available free of charge in the Chrome Store in summer 2020. Thousands then used the tool and left enthusiastic reviews. The tool has thus even initiated a research project at the University of Neuchâtel, which looked at the influence of the news feed on the personal perception of users.

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A few months ago, Facebook then requested that he take the tool offline, writes Barclay. In addition, his account had been removed and he had to undertake never again to develop a tool that would interact with Facebook or any of the associated services. To this end, the group has relied on a formulation in its terms of use that even applies to former users. He thinks all of this is “outrageous,” writes Barclay. At the same time, the financial risk of going to court in Great Britain is too great, which is why he bowed to the demands. Instead, he calls on lawmakers to take action. After all, his Facebook addiction is definitely under control. There is still no response from Facebook to the allegations.


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