Facebook Threatened to Sue Me
Today Facebook ordered me to dismantle a not-for-proft webapp that I created several weeks ago. The firm’s legal counsel sent me a cease and desist email this afternoon, insinuating that Facebook could fine me $100,000.
I created a tool called Break Your Facebook that allowed users to take structured breaks from the social networking site. Following news of the NSA scandals, I had become more privacy conscious and weary of the website’s data mining practices. Plus, its frenetic pace and the poor quality of the News Feed was starting to turn me off.
In the process of developing my little side project, I decided to permanently delete my Facebook accounts. Doing so boosted my happiness considerably. Now I use the Internet for work and do almost all of my socializing in person.
The cease and desist order has affirmed my decision and crystallized my dislike of Facebook as a company.
I don’t know enough about intellectual property law to determine if a judge would agree that my small side project constitutes fair use. But I do know that I will have to break my app and let the domain die (without selling it) because I don’t want to contend with Facebook’s endless legal resources.
I realize that I’m not the first to receive a C&D from Facebook, nor am I the first to write a response condemning the company for its legal threat. And I concede that this post is somewhat emotional; if I read a story about this happening to someone else, I would be inclined to focus only on the legal issues.
Still, I was turned off by the email’s stern language. As Jack Daniels’ famous C&D demonstrates, companies can defend their intellectual property politely, without resorting to intimidation. Instead, Facebook threatened the individual maker of a not-for-profit app.
The C&D mentions that Facebook inevitably prevails in lawsuits. That may be true, but I suspect that the company as a whole, with its invasions of privacy and disregard for its users, will not prevail in the marketplace.