UPDATED: Facebook disables Tom Brake’s account

Tom Brake has now managed to get in contact with Facebook who have advised him that his account was automatically suspended when their system detected an unusually large amount of traffic to and from his account.

Clearly, a social network originally set up for networking amongst university peers needs to evolve to cope with new types of users and their networks, balancing communications amongst large groups with safeguards against spam.

Facebook say they are working hard to get Tom’s account back up.

Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, has had his Facebook account disabled just hours after he used it to organise a large public demonstration in his constituency.

Tom, who last year became one of the first MPs in Britain to offer his constituents regular online advice surgeries, is widely noted in the media for his use of the internet to engage with the public.

Hundreds of people gathered last night in Wallington town centre to protest against the axing of the N213 night bus service. They were mobilised largely through the Save the N213 Facebook group which had grown to over 2,000 members – Tom Brake was one of the administrators.

This morning he found that his account had been disabled and that he had been removed as admin from several groups, including “Save the N213.”

Tom said:

“Much of my casework now comes through Facebook – the bizarre and heavy-handed decision to disable my account only hours after a protest organised through the social-networking site, severely disadvantages my constituents who rely on the net to contact me.”

“I’ve sought to use Facebook to keep local people informed about my work on their behalf, and I’ve seen an overwhelming response to this way of engaging with people.”

“I’m surprised and disappointed that in this high-technology era Facebook believes it’s appropriate to delete the accounts of elected representatives without warning, who are seeking to engage with the public.”

“The N213 protest illustrates the power of social networking sites to mobilise people quickly and effectively as part of a campaign – the event was a huge success, but Facebook’s decision to withdraw my account is a setback to the campaign, and to my constituents.”

Facebook are yet to respond to Mr Brake’s request to reinstate his account with immediate effect.

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14 Comments

  • I’ve sent a message protesting about this to facebook’s International Vice-President, Chamath Palihapitiya, via his facebook account
    http://www.facebook.com/chamath?hiq=chamath,palihapitiya

    Others may want to do the same.

  • Keith Elliott 10th Jul '09 - 2:09pm

    Facebook are notoriously difficult to communicate with. There is no email address and certainly no contact number to call.

    I guess their free market line is that if you’re unhappy with their service use another provider!

    Not good.

  • Andrew Suffield 10th Jul '09 - 5:13pm

    “working hard to get Tom’s account back up”? To get it back up, they have to flip a bit in the database from “disabled” to “enabled”. It’s not hard.

    Sounds like an excuse to me.

  • Andrew, It depends on how their system is set up. As it disabled the account through high usage, there could well be a time limit on reactivation to allow for an investigation.

  • Tony Greaves 11th Jul '09 - 3:49pm

    All it shows is how the world is increasingly in the hands of unelected, unaccountable, unregulated, uncontrollable and undemocratic organisations and persons.

    But I suppose anyone who uses Facebook for political campaigning has it coming to them.

    Tony Greaves

  • I had the same problem not so long ago. Too much site traffic, apparently. It took about two weeks to sort out. No good at election time!

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