Friday, January 25, 2008

Union Organizer Banned From Facebook For Having Too Many Friends

Derek Blackadder, a CUPE union organizer (he organized my old local) and LabourStart correspondent, has been banned from Facebook for having too many friends.

Blackadder, quite cleverly in my opinion, has been using Facebook for progressive purposes: to organize workers. John Wood elaborates on Blackadder's organizing ban:

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.

Okay, he was probably being a little over-eager, but Facebook is definitely the poorer for not having him, and this is a bit of a stumbling block for unions wanting to use the tools to organise. Add to this the SEIU Canadian profile that got closed down (admittedly they too had been stretching the terms of use), the 1,000 group mailing cap and you’re left wondering if your time investment in it is all about to go up in smoke - it seems the better you do, the riskier your position.

So let’s try to get Derek back in. Come join (what else…) the Blackadder solidarity Facebook group. A very slim chance I grant you, but worth a pop to lobby Facebook on this one. Any ideas you’ve got for making this work - let us know!

If we do manage to get him reinstated, it’ll make Facebook a much safer place for all unions and activists to network (it‘s hardly going to inspire you to put in the effort if you only get kicked out for it). Just don’t ask Derek to add you as a friend though, or they’ll boot him out again. ;-)


From Eric Lee:

Yesterday, I wrote to all of you about the case of Derek Blackadder, the trade union organizer banned from Facebook for ... organizing.

You responded instantly and the word spread like wildfire. Within 8 hours, nearly 2,400 of you signed up to join the Facebook group protesting the ban on Derek.

Facebook has now removed the ban. We won.


Jaker said...

I just joined, it looks like facebook has already backed down and he was allowed back yesterday.

uncorrectedproofs said...

good news!

Jaker said...

Indeed, and Derek is already asking everyone in the group to add him as a friend...just to send even more of a message. ;)

Derek Blackadder said...

I boiled down my experiences of FB as an organizing tool here: