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Former Diplomat Slams Facebook For Inaction On Fake Pages 164

An anonymous reader writes "Former diplomat to Belgium and the European Union Brendan Nelson describes his astonishment at his inability to get any response from Facebook when trying to get a diplomatically damaging fake page taken down. The social network ignored official protestations from the department of foreign affairs and security agencies."
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Former Diplomat Slams Facebook For Inaction On Fake Pages

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Self entitled shitpickles think their byzantine piles of dirt can dictate how history records their failings.

  • Lame summery (Score:3, Informative)

    by Peter H.S. ( 38077 ) on Monday April 22, 2013 @10:10PM (#43521531) Homepage

    The flame baiting, lame summery tries to make it looks like some evil diplomat tries to censor some facebook pages. But as the TFA says, this is about an imposter who has assumed a diplomats name on a fake facebook account and now post fake posts.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't get that impression from this summary.

    • Just like to confirm that I also do not get this impression from the summary.

      In fact, my impression was exactly as described in TFA.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      The flame baiting, lame summery tries to make it looks like some evil diplomat tries to censor some facebook pages. But as the TFA says, this is about an imposter who has assumed a diplomats name on a fake facebook account and now post fake posts.

      Brendan is a common Australian first name.
      Nelson is a common Australian last name.

      I'd be surprised if there weren't a few Brendan Nelson's in Australia. Now if you called yourself Minister Brendan Nelson or Ambassador Brendan Nelson then we have an issue.

      So it seems that the real Ambassador Nelson was trying to get an impostor Ambassador Nelson shut down.

      Fake Brendan Nelson is also not a problem. We had a Fake Stephen Conroy (Stephen Conroy is the current Minister for Broadband, Communications and

      • by anubi ( 640541 )
        Sounds like the same conundrum [wikipedia.org] Microsoft was in regarding Mike Rowe, except this time there is not only exact name spellings involved but also a bit of acrimony.
    • Re:Lame summery (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MaskedSlacker ( 911878 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @01:24AM (#43522347)

      But as the TFA says, this is about an imposter who has assumed a diplomats name on a fake facebook account and now post fake posts.

      So? Facebook allows multiple accounts with the same name. There is no reason to close the imposter account (other than it being against Facebook's TOS, but that's not the diplomats issue). The diplomat has no basis or standing to make the request.

      In what world is a facebook page going to be "diplomatically damaging"? He should go pound some sand.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joce640k ( 829181 )

      I demand special privileges, dammit! I'm a special human being.

      • That's not really fair. If someone impersonated YOU on Facebook, you would certainly want their account suspended. The only reason "special" comes into play is it makes it more likely someone will impersonate/parody you if you're "special".
        • by tqk ( 413719 )

          If someone impersonated YOU on Facebook, you would certainly want their account suspended.

          Yeah, about as much as I'd want the head of that guy who wrote something obnoxious about me with a magic marker on the walls of some public pay toilet. Meaning, not much. I can't wait for FB and Twitter to implode. They've both had far too long a run for what they're really worth.

        • The antidote to unpopular free speech is more free speech. He could simply publicize the fact that he has some online imposters. As long as people in general realize that imposters can and do exist, I don't see the harm.
      • by glop ( 181086 )

        Errr, actually. Facebook says they want to enforce a real name policy.
        They don't want me to join as 'glop' (which by the way is not the English word but what a funny comic book character says to mean 'OK'. He says 'Pas glop' when it's no good).
        So if Facebook cares about real names, it's quite surprising that they would not react to a complaint that somebody is using somebody's name. That's definitely more detrimental to Facebook's professed goals than letting me join as 'glop'.

        So I really don't think the gu

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      yeah let's ban kim jong il blog.

    • by flyneye ( 84093 )

      The inverse of the story is that Facebook has it's head up it's ass, as usual.
      This story is just a dressed up way of telling us what we already know.
      Nothing NEW to see here, move along...

    • That was my first impression. It's mentioned that this concerns *fake* pages, yet it could be made way clearer by having a slightly more detailed summary.

      Summaries don't have to be written fit on a post-it note.

  • by Camembert ( 2891457 ) on Monday April 22, 2013 @10:12PM (#43521537)
    I read through the article. I must say that I sympathise with him - he sees technology as something that should support life, not something that is pervasive, like people non-stop updating FB or twitter accounts. I also think that there could be a better authentication system at FB.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2013 @10:20PM (#43521575)

      As a former diplomat he neither has power or influence and theres no profit in Facebook helping so like an ordinary person he is screwed.

      • Facebook is located in California and here in California impersonating somebody online without their permission is now a crime punishable by a $1000 fine or up to a year in jail. It also creates an opportunity, independent of any other civil remedies which may also be available, to sue for injunctive relief (removal of Facebook page) and compensatory damages. At the very least this law could probably be used to get Facebook to remove the page for the price of a California attorney writing them a letter requ

        • Facebook also probably has decent lawyers who can point out the reason for the law is to stop actual fraudulent impersonation, like trying to get money from people under false pretenses. Outside of that, the first amendment provides good protection, especially if the intent is to parody Nelson.
          • Except it isn't quite like a political cartoon or a caricature because on Facebook it may not be immediately obvious that this isn't really him. There isn't somebody jumping out from behind his picture and saying, "Live from New York it's Saturday Night!". I'll admit that I haven't taken the time to examine the page in question, but even if it is a parody is this really the sort of thing that Facebook wants on their site? They're in the business of delivering "real" people, not parodies of real people, to p

            • Facebook no doubt doesn't want parodies on their site. This doesn't mean that they would welcome legal requirements to eliminate all parodies and having their mistakes punished with fines.
    • Don't encourage him! We've already got APK/Jeremiah Cornelius complaining about impersonation every post.

      Next thing Brendan Nelson's going to be coming here, spamming "A corrupt facebook luser has infiltrated the liking system to downlike all my posts."

    • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Monday April 22, 2013 @11:38PM (#43521941)

      I also think that there could be a better authentication system at FB.

      We'll think about this while taking our fourth shower of wealth in our gold-plated bathtub. In the meantime, did you know you can promote a customer service inquiry by paying only an additional $3.99?

      Seriously dude, you're the product, not the customer. Who cares what you think? You've already given us all your personal data, what does it matter?

    • This is simply Facebook shooting themselves in the foot. Whenever somebody visits a Facebook page, they can normally be assured that the page in question is actually the company or person that it is claiming to be.

      I've noticed a barrage of fake Facebook pages for Apple and other companies that are touting fake giveaways and other scans. Facebook's walled garden is infected with impostors and they don't seem to be doing anything about it. Personally, I don't trust any site without an EV-SSL certificate.
  • The net of lies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blarkon ( 1712194 ) on Monday April 22, 2013 @10:18PM (#43521561)
    Vernor Vinge called it in his Hugo winning book "A Fire Upon The Deep" - where the galactic net was known as the "net of lies". It was probably in Facebook's interest to do something about an account that wasn't clearly a parody as having a robust way of dealing with fake accounts engenders trust that accounts that appear to be from important/influential people and organizations are actually real. The follow on from Facebook's inaction is that those people/organizations that are influential/important will be less likely to use Facebook to disperse their message/propaganda.
  • by DaveAtFraud ( 460127 ) on Monday April 22, 2013 @10:22PM (#43521579) Homepage Journal

    I wonder if the cybersquatting laws are written (or interpreted) so narrowly that he couldn't hit the imposter that way. It may not be a domain name; it's his name and identity.


  • I crafted a name for facebook that would pass it's name filters but would protect my anonymity and I'm not ashamed to say it. I could have picked something as simple as John Smith but either way my identity remains protected. I also have 5 other facebook accounts that I use with vpn proxies... none of them are "fake" .. they just use a different name but they all reflect my same opinion. If his feelings are hurt.. well, too bad. Suck it up. My feelings have been hurt many times.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward


      Really, I can get the point of having one fake account to keep in touch with friends, although facebook will likely figure out your real name and everything soon enough based on the friends.

      Having several fake accounts to express your opinion just seems to be trying to make your opinion seem important. To start, its against their terms of agreement, however shitty those are, but it also doesn't seem to serve any "good" purpose. I really can't think of a good reason to do this, and I mean good as in the

      • and I should care about the T&A of facebook? Go ahead and be tracked by facefuck if you want to so willingly.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I am not saying you should, although when you are using their service, maybe you should. Its not as if you aren't tracked now, hell, you are tracked 5 times now. If you use them all separately, on separate locations and never make a mistake, I guess you could probably make facebook believe there are 5 different people there. However, likely, they will all be linked, things like forgetting to log out or having multiple friends in common between each account.

          If you really dislike their service this much, and

          • If your principle is that you really don't want facebook to track you, the right way would be to not use facebook and if all possible ,block it as much as you can. If you are still going to allow them some tracking with the hope they cant puzzle together that its you, your principle really isn't worth all that much.

            Also, you need to not have any friends who use facebook, or you'll get a "shadow account" created for you if you don't sign up....

      • I hate facebook. I refused to get a facebook account until last year. A friend of mine finally convinced me to get one because he was tired of sending group messages and needing to email me separately. Fine, I can understand that. I really don't want a bunch of random people finding me and trying to be my friend, so I made a fake account. All my real friends and family that I want to talk to know it's me, and everyone else has no idea. It's the best of both worlds.
    • So you had your feelings hurt once, therefore he should be OK with having his name hijacked and diplomatically damaging posts posted under his name.

      Thats some mighty impressive logic and deductive reasoning you have used there sir.

      Color me like, totally impressed dude.

      • Not once... like I said, many times.. and it doesn't bother me personally. I just prefer to react to those comments in a different way.
      • Just because TFS says the posts were diplomatically damaging doesn't make it the truth. It's most likely satire/parody that got under his skin because it had too much truth to it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Because if it's parody or satire I'm not on his side. If it is someone literally impersonating him that's a different story.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) * on Monday April 22, 2013 @10:41PM (#43521687)

      If it is someone literally impersonating him that's a different story.

      It is someone literally impersonating him.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There are two public accounts under his name with his face in the profile. Looks like a ligit complaint. Not sure why he thinks being a diplomat would give him special sway with Facebook though. Facebook is a low margin business that survives by not having much staff. Complaining to Facebook is complaining to a software program.

        • by dingen ( 958134 )

          Facebook is a low margin business that survives by not having much staff. Complaining to Facebook is complaining to a software program.

          In 2012 Facebook had 4,619 employees. I'm sure they have more now. Surely one of those people could answer mister Nelson's e-mails?

        • by xelah ( 176252 )

          Complaining to Facebook is complaining to a software program.

          Ah, so they outsource their call centre, too?

          I can't help thinking that if a company makes money out of publishing large amounts of known false information which is damaging to others, then 'oh, but that's not how our business works' is not a legitimate response to being challenged. If your business model doesn't work without doing this, then you should either fix it by finding an appropriate mechanism to deal with this, or shut yourself down (or you should get shut down by appropriate laws and the courts).

      • You sure about that? We don't have much evidence from this article alone of the kinds of posts made. However, judging from most fake accounts of public figures on facebook, its probably pretty clearly fake.
    • by hjf ( 703092 ) on Monday April 22, 2013 @11:07PM (#43521803) Homepage

      No difference for them. Facebook doesn't care because all they care about is serving ads. More pages=more ads.

      I had a problem a couple months ago. I have a business and a business page on facebook with nearly 2500 fans. I worked years to get it to where it is now. One day, suddenly, a fake profile appears, using all of my images, texts, etc... all except the prices: he claimed everything was half of what i posted on my true page. It took "orders" (send your money and i'll send your order).

      A couple of customers alerted me. So i asked all my facebook friends AND my customers to report the profile. It was still there for days, still active, friending more and more people. People even started coming into my shop asking and getting mad because "on facebook you told me half this price!" and i had to explain that it was a fake profile (mad people don't reason - they went away angry at ME!). Eventually I confronted the fake profile, told him everything i knew, and told him i had already contacted the police. Minutes later the profile was inactive.

      It wasn't facebook who deactivated it. I had to do it. Facebook NEVER gave a shit. I'm a facebook CUSTOMER (because I PAY THEM REAL LIFE MONEY FOR ADVERTISING). And I didn't get a phone number, mail address or anything. Just a useless contact form directed straight to /dev/null.

      Facebook has people checking "flagged" things - you will never see porn on fb because they kill that kind of content within minutes. But when it comes "edge cases" like mine, it's a big fuck from them.

      Do i still work with them? Yes. I have no other choice. I spent months developing a website. One that worked and that I kept updated. For 10 visits a week vs facebook page's ~500 visitors/mo. 5x that if i pay for ads. Right now, as of 2013, facebook has become "the internet". It has already killed Windows Live Messenger (THE IM system for spanish-speaking people).

      Facebook doesn't give a fuck about business pages either. They don't offer a "chat" option for pages (people actually want to chat. they don't want to "send a message", but the stupid antisocial asperger-syndrome driven facebook developer doesn't understand the power of "live chat with a real person"). They don't offer an option to "schedule" album posts. And to make things worse: they force you to pay now. Your reach will be minimal if people haven't added you to their "interest lists", and for 90% of your customers, your post won't appear unless you pay $5 to promote it for 3 days (which is an outrageous amount considering that, to keep your page "alive", you need to post at least once a day). I don't want to pay $150/mo to facebook - sorry.

      • Sounds like an actual genuine legal problem if someone is misrepresenting your prices. Why didn't you ask a lawyer?

        Not to mention, when your argument to Facebook is "hey I'm real and he's fake", how are they to know you are telling the truth? What if the other page had made the claim first? They aren't going to hire a detective to investigate every claim just because you paid for some ads. God knows how many requests they get from angry teenagers, businesses with non-unique names, trolls behind proxies,

        • Umm, let me think ... opening a case, like on PayPal? Where the two can confront each other? Scanned IDs? Hand written papers like certificate of birth is hard to fake. It's not like everyone is a fucking Photoshop guru. And if you provide a scan with high dpi, it will be really hard to fake. Not fool proof, but discouraging. And if you can't solve that, warn that police might be notified and consequences could be nasty.
          Even if you can't handle that, at least pretend you're trying. But they can't do anyth
          • by hjf ( 703092 )

            I tried to make my facebook page a facebook *place*. Seems the only way you can do this, is to use facebook places, check in to this place (to create it), then go to your page, find the place, claim ownership.
            After this, I got a facebook message asking me to scan the legal documents for my business and facebook profile, to show I really own this place.

            So yeah: anyone can create a business page, but it's a big issue to create a "facebook place" no one gives a fuck about.

        • Facebook already has systems for determining if someone is who they say they are, so hiring a detective isn't necessary for this sort of identification dispute. They also explicitly ask the public at large to report suspicious accounts exactly like those in grandparents post. All things considered, they should have looked into it, because they ask us to tell them when it happens.

          • by gmack ( 197796 )

            Fat lot of good that reporting does. Last year someone cloned my aunt's account and sent everyone a message telling them to delete the real account from their friends list.

            Facebook eventually deleted the cloned account but absolutely refused to delete the account the scammer was using to reel people in. You would think that "AM ON FACEBOOK WORKING FOR THE GOVERNMENT" on his profile would have been a dead giveaway but Facebook couldn't be bothered..

        • by hjf ( 703092 )

          Sounds like an actual genuine legal problem if someone is misrepresenting your prices. Why didn't you ask a lawyer?

          Because I'm in Argentina, and facebook is in the United States.
          Brands don't have "global" protection. If I register my trademark in Argentina, it's only valid in Argentina. (Wanna know a stupid thing about Argentina's trademark system? They require a legal address in Buenos Aires. I'm 1000km away from there, and I can't afford paying a lawyer to keep my trademark registered at his office). If m

      • by ModernGeek ( 601932 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @06:25AM (#43523265)
        The solution to this is that all the legitimate businesses need to erase their presence on Facebook, and leave only the scammers on the site. Facebook has the attitude that we need them more than they need us. Legitimate business needs to move back to the World Wide Web. The problem of social media should be solved through some sort of de-centralized protocol such as e-mail, and certificate authorities should solve the problem of identification.
        • by hjf ( 703092 )

          Yes. A million points for you. But, not being a "fortune 500" company, I can't afford to do that.

          • A success of this would be to launch a campaign against Facebook. Every time we put a "Like us on Facebook" for sticker on a business, we are just making them stronger. The idea would be to lean more towards the "Find us on the web", and a smaller sticker detailing why.
            • by hjf ( 703092 )

              For about 99.9% (with a 0.1% error margin) of the people, facebook *IS* the internet. Kids don't look at their email, don't have blogs, don't use IM anymore. They don't even pirate games (as they can play silly facebook games).
              Kids don't even google things anymore! How many "hey people do you know where i can find X / do you know how i can do Y" posts do you have in your feed? I have more than I'd like.
              Facebook doesn't even offer a decent search option. Facebook is the complete opposite of what the Internet

        • Exactly.

          If there is a bad movie in theaters, I have a right not to see that movie. I don't have a right to demand the movie be made better.

  • Former Politician (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2013 @10:37PM (#43521675)

    Brendan Nelson is primarily a politician, not a diplomat. The highlights of his career include supporting the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution and gutting the academic independence of Australia's University/Science Research System.

    • by Ignacio ( 1465 )

      Are you claiming that it's acceptable to impersonate a serial puppy murderer, but not someone that volunteers their time and money to save starving children in Elbonia?

      • I don't care if people impersonate anybody on facebook. In fact I think lots of fake accounts serves a valuable purpose in society. It raises awareness that the internet can't be trusted. People need to be more skeptical.
    • Brendan Nelson is primarily a politician, not a diplomat. The highlights of his career include supporting the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution and gutting the academic independence of Australia's University/Science Research System.

      Fake scientist objects to fake diplomats?

    • Also, as head of the AMA, he opposed death with dignity laws. And as a doctor, he once denied his sick brother the same. The man's a dick.

    • Technically, diplomats _are_ politicians.

  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Monday April 22, 2013 @10:52PM (#43521731)

    Free speech is just an absolute bitch, isn't it? We all approach it in different ways.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But wouldn't this be in the "fraud" territory and not "free speech"?

    • What is your definition of freedom of speech? Mine is: no information may be made illegal to disseminate. By that definition, making identity theft illegal is not a violation of rights to freedom of speech. It's not the information that is illegal (who someone is) but rather the intent behind it (to steal or otherwise usurp someone's reputation).

      Some people confusion "X may not be made illegal" with "anything is legal as long as you are also doing X". Just because you are using speech does not mean that

    • by Anonymous Coward

      False attribution is not free speech. You can say what you wish, you can even say it anonymously, but you don't get to falsely claim I said something. That's not your right. There is no benefit to society to allow such behavior.

      • Rights are granted by governments. Different governments define different rights. The real question is not a right exists in some place and time, but whether it should exist. False attribution is probably not a good thing for society, but freedom of speech is. False attribution is certainly speech, and denial of this right is technically a limitation on free speech. We can either limit free speech, or simply encourage more speech to point out false attributions. I personally favor the latter approach.

  • by dead_user ( 1989356 ) on Monday April 22, 2013 @11:11PM (#43521821)
    They likely weren't even aware he tried to contact them until now. I doubt he ever actually spoke with anyone there. This smacks of melodrama.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They likely weren't even aware he tried to contact them until now. I doubt he ever actually spoke with anyone there.

      Spoke with? Have you ever tried to get someone from Facebook on the phone? Good luck with that.

  • Anything "diplomatically damaging" can only mean "good for the rest of us mere humans".

    So...TFB! I don't use Facebook, but I'll support them on this issue until my blood runs down the street and into the gutter at the point of government bullets.
    • Did you read the article? It was someone impersonating a diplomat and encouraging problems between nations, which has this bad habit of leading to conflict of various kinds. That's what "diplomatically damaging" means. Free speech does not extend to impersonating someone and falsifying information.

      • Maybe I missed it, but all I saw were mentions of "pretty lame" comments about politicians within his own country. The posts were probably childish, asinine, and in no plausible way causing confusion for anyone remotely competent, and yet, I'd say there's a decent chance this account has been a better influence on Australian and international politics than the real McCoy.
        • Man, wouldn't it be great if only "remotely competent" people ever voted or anything like that!

          • It would be quite wonderful, as we'd have a much better signal to noise ratio in the political system. However, while I understand that some people are always going to be gullible, you have to draw the line somewhere. If you cater your standards to the lowest common denominator, all that will happen is that we'll engineer a better moron that requires even lower standards.
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @12:08AM (#43522093)

    Report it as a copyright violation and they'll take it right down.

  • Mad because a government official cannot wield undue influence over the global, borderless Internet?

    Facebook treats all their users like shit, no reason this guy should be special. I agree it sucks for him, but it sucks just as much for the 13 year old whose classmates put up pages mocking him. I don't think you want it to be otherwise. Ideally they would always "do the right thing" but at least they are consistent in ignoring their users and don't play favourites.

    • We should be mad. Not because of who it is happening to this time but because it happens and they don't take as seriously as they should for anyone unless they're best pals with someone high up. This guy clearly wasn't high up enough to merit looking into. I deplore this sort of behavior. It reeks of the same crap you can find yourself in trouble with Google on YouTube. Whether or not your demerits or concerns are warranted or not, good luck ever getting the issue resolved with anyone at Google over it. Too

      • I think facebook takes fake accounts far to seriously already. I think they should just allow anyone to make whatever accounts they want and post whatever they want.
  • Brendan Nelson is somewhat of a melodramatic idiot - known for such things as pretending to the press that he got into some life threatening situation when he was given a ride in a air force fighter jet - a pile of bullshit designed to inflate his ego at the expense of making the a pilot look incompetent.

    He made some very stupid choices as Australian defence minister against advice and they look very much like they were made to lick the boots of some corrupt people in the USA mixed up with defence contract
  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @07:17AM (#43523411)

    Me no understand. These people, along with Google et al, are pressurisng users to use their REAL names:

    http://www.facebook.com/help/112146705538576/ [facebook.com]

    Facebook is a community where people use their real identities. We require everyone to provide their real names, so you always know who you're connecting with. This helps keep our community safe.

    So, when someone contacts them to complain that their real identiy has been hijacked, and also it could potentially have serious international diplomatic consequences, they do nothing?

  • Zuckerberg hates waffles.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll