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Facebook Has No First Amendment Right to Send Unauthorized Texts, Says Court (reason.com)
292 points by objections on Feb 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 172 comments

Facebook is borderline scammy with it's practices. I few months ago I made a mistake of installing Facebook Messenger (which is now only called "Messenger" in the Play Store) to communicate with a friend who was in town. To use the app I had to verify my phone number. When my friend left town, I removed the app. To my surprise, I kept receiving notifications from an app called "Messenger" which is not accidentally also how the SMS app in stock android is named. There is no way to disable it from my phone and after 15 minutes of looking around I could not find a way to fully disable it in the browser either. I could remove my phone number from the account entirely, but then I would not be able to use sms to recover my account. The best I could do was to set the maximum number of messages to 1 per day.

That, and you also can't change your relationship status to married retroactively without Facebook notifying every person in your contact list.

Facebook really wants you to install Messenger on your phone, for some reason:


Surprised it has not been mentioned yet, but mbasic.facebook.com would solve the issue in both articles. I don't even have a facebook account and I'm constantly referring people to the slimmer version. I guess they must not advertise it.

Thanks. This is what i needed. FB on mobile browsers is usable again. They have intentionally crippled the mobile site if you want to chat, to have you install messenger, which is probably the worst app(/malware) i have seen.

There's something weird happenning here with that subdomain. I've just tried using that domain to access facebook on my android phone a couple of times, it was redirecting me to https://mobile.facebook.com/?_rdr every time.

Until I've decided to try it in the Chrome Incognito Mode. It worked correctly, without redirecting to the normal facebook's mobile site.

But after coming back from Incognito, it started working as intended on normal browsing mode too.

I noticed something similar when I was travelling in either Hong Kong or Thailand. The network operators in that country offered free access to Facebook and so when accessing mbasic... it would ask you if you wanted to use Facebook for free, and if not then it would forcefully redirect you to the regular Facebook interface - no option to use the lightweight one.

Thank you so much :) It's like old Facebook... and quite the reminder of how quickly our world changes.

Thanks! mbasic.facebook.com loads fast, and better yet, doesn't seem to suffer from random filtering. I saw several useful things there that were inexplicably hidden on the normal site. I can only assume FB will break it soon...

there's also quite a few open-source apps on F-DROID which are merely wrappers around the mobile site. I've been using "FaceSlim" for a while.

You can also enable "show desktop site" on Chrome android to get messenger to work again.

That looks nice. I wonder if there is a way to set it as the preferred mobile site (for incoming links). That being said the mobile site is quite good anyways, so it's not a big issue for me.

This approach doesn't work anymore (at least for me). I always get redirected to a page that prompts me to install Messenger.

mbasic is different from the normal Facebook mobile site. It doesn't even seem to have any JS as far as I can tell. More designed for WAP etc

Before Apple put the address book contacts behind permissions, facebook downloaded the entire thing, without asking, to their servers.

I know this, because I make a very clear distinction between work and non-work data, facebook is non-work, so I will never have colleagues or work related contacts on facebook.

Suddenly one day, out of the blue, I get a facebook "friend suggestion" for a boss I had many years back. There's absolutely _no way_ there are any contact paths from my facebook friends to this person.

The only thing I had done was (reluctantly) installing the facebook mobile app. I researched it and found other people had experienced the same thing. The app simply took your entire address book and started matching up "friends" using that.

WhatsApp seems to do the same today.

Facebook is an evil company that absolutely will take any data they can get their hands on.

Have you considered that it might have happened the other way around? Your boss had you in their contacts list, allowed Facebook to import it, and the number / email he had matched your account, so Facebook then knew there's a likely connection between the two of you, suggesting the friendship to both of you?

No, no one ever considers a Facebook, LinkedIn, et al, suggestion started because the other party uploaded their contacts. It's only and always because their app spied on you, they hacked into your email, etc.

Most of my suggestions seem to be people I either went to HS with (mutual contacts), or via FB groups... though there's the obvious bot requests, and an occasional wtf is that?

a) Users in developing countries want, even need, messaging apps without the bandwidth costs of a full social networking app. This isn't a Facebook "stunt", but rather the reality of trying to acquire users in countries without 3g/4g/wifi bandwidth at affordable costs for consumers. "Facebook Social Network" cannot compete with "WhatsApp" or similar in poor countries, but "Facebook Messenger" can. It's really not a hard concept to understand, unless one is so unaware of how lucky one is to live in a first world country with a steady income.

b) It's funny how the HN crowd spins the separation of the messaging component from the rest of the product as a bad thing. When it comes to Unix, we repeatedly hear about how having separate smaller utilities to accomplish different tasks is the only right way to do things. But a company who splits their essential messaging component from the extremely heavy, unnecessary, optional, nice-to-have addons like a "wall" is somehow evil.

A "messaging app" is a very tiny fraction of the functionality found in a "social networking app". It's extremely sensible to separate them. How anyone can even pretend to attribute this to some nefarious motive is beyond me. And hell, I'm an anti-Facebook nut.

If Facebook Messenger only functioned as a way of sending and receiving Facebook messages to ones friends, your position would be justified.

But in fact Messenger is a trojan horse app which spies on users and gathers much information about the systems its installed on, without user oversight, in order for Facebook to better profile its users.

Fact: Messenger isn't a messaging app. It masquerades as one, because in reality its a user-profiling app, designed to serve one master, and one master only: Facebook. Not its users.

This has nothing to do with the separation of the Messenger app from the core Facebook app. When messaging was packaged as part of the core Facebook app, the functionality was the same. There is nothing Facebook can do with two separate apps that they couldn't have done with a single app. You can't tell me that "Facebook Messenger spies", but that "combined Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps wouldn't spy".

And to be clear, "spying" simply means granting the app those privileges. You could complain about Apple's or Android's approaches to approving individual privileges, but it's not like Facebook is doing anything super illegitimate that users haven't had to permit - even if the reason for granting those privileges isn't fully disclosed.

Messenger was broken away from the main Facebook app because it was the principle use case for Facebook users - messaging - and by splitting the function off, Facebook was able to be even more intrusive, since the assumption is that "its just a messaging app, it doesn't do anything more than that like the main app" - whereas, it actually does a lot more than that behind the scenes in order to gain access to data that Facebook wants to know about you.. such as listening on the microphone to gain clues about where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing.

>App privileges

Sure, just like the NSA isn't spying, since it has permission from Congress. You won't ever know what it does with the data - because of course, those rights are privileges and not granted to you, the individual - but it doesn't make the net result any better for those of us who care about privacy and controlling our own lives, un-hindered by corporate policies requiring the mass usurpation of our individual rights.

Because that's all just one of the reasons they're doing it. There are huge strategic advantages to adapting the modern third world citizen to Facebook being their only point of access for the internet, like enticing them to use the full product.

Just using facebook or just using messenger without the other is a pain. Also first time I used FB Messenger on a new phone (an iPhone after using android). Went through several screens of "Add your phone number", "Constantly upload all your contacts!" and "Invite your friends to messenger". all with well hidden ui for skipping each step (particularly the last one).

If I wanted to contact people on messenger they would already have messenger.

Weird, on Android I have been using the messenger app without the FB app for years without any issue. As for the messenger setup the Android version definitely had all those screens but the skip button was very obvious.

My favorite is on iOS. TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS. TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS. It asks you on every launch, and even puts a notification inside the app that stays there until you turn on notifications. So it always looks like you have a message from somebody. It never goes away.

When I got aqainted with the APP, I knew right where they are going with it: facebook wants messenger to be their mobile application distribution system. Just look at how heavy the app is. It is way over engineered to simply be a messenger application. Facebook used to rake in money from facebook games. Who plays games on FB anymore? Web games were the largest games market in the world in the early FB era. I developed for some companies that had games and apps on FB. I was in the online freelance community at the time and a ton of money was poured into that. Now everything has gone mobile and they lost one of their gold mines.

From my limited, anecdotal observations this past year (in the U.S.): (Facebook) Messenger is how people PM other people they've met when they haven't swapped phone numbers.

I was at dinner with a friend. Because of unexpected circumstances, we ended up sharing a table with one of her friends and some people that friend was with.

One of her friend's friends was quite gregarious and engaging towards my (non-romantic, by the way) friend. Seemed pretty obvious to me, at least.

We get back to my friend's place, and this guy is IM-ing her on FB Messenger with a bunch of flattering and engaging texts. She didn't give him her number, despite his hints in the restaurant parking lot, but he readily found her on FB through their mutual friend/contact. (Who, by the way, told her, "Yeah, no... He was a jerk to me and you don't want to go there.")

Sorry for the lengthy story. This friend of mine also went through an extended period of significant but not always close network building, this past year. And this is how much of that worked: Where phone numbers weren't shared, PM-ing through FB Messenger.

Messenger is well on the way to becoming the de facto "public" venue for IM-ing.

Other platforms tend to be turned to for more private, personal stuff -- at least among folks who actively use multiple platforms.

P.S. Invasive as it is, and with all the reservations I have, you nonetheless have to give FB credit (as a self-interested business) for turning Messenger into this. And, privacy concerns and limitations aside, it pretty much "just works". Which is the definition of win and first choice, for most "ordinary" folks.

I've had people say they'll find me on Facebook and message me and when I tell them I don't have a Facebook they've said well, bye and left with out any interest in giving any other kind of contact info. It's where you put people politely when you don't really want to interact with them ever again but can't quite say that yet.

I suspect at least 50% of the people who ask decide I'm crazy or otherwise very suspect socially when I tell them I don't have Facebook (or Twitter or Snapchat or Instagram for that matter). This happens even with people I've known for a while. Apparently it's very unusual to be completely absent from social media.

It's our generations version of "can I have your number?" "Sorry, I don't have a phone".

Either it's a brush off, or they're a bit..different.

I agree with you on that, but you dont messenger app to do that. Can easily do that from web or from m.facebook.com on firefox.

You might be interested in mbasic.facebook.com.

There is also m.messenger.com.

Although trying that it seems the certificate isn't trusted by iOS Safari.

Or maybe this excessively paranoid person could just install Messenger and realize that no one cares enough about him to turn on the two cameras and four microphones and GPS or whatever to spy on him all day.

Because messaging is the new web.

it's not, but facebook wants it to be

Yeah, menu-based chatbots are the closest they can get to third-party executable code in an iPhone app, and therefore the only way they can approach being a browser-like platform.

Nah, this isn't true. JS works fine now.

i got 5% battery back after uninstalling FB and messenger

I kept receiving notifications from an app called "Messenger" which is not accidentally also how the SMS app in stock android is named.

Facebook Messenger came out first.

Facebook (2011): http://web.archive.org/web/20120310004637/https://play.googl...

Google (2014): http://web.archive.org/web/20141112233236/https://play.googl...

ICQ Instant Messenger - 1996 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICQ

Talk Instant Messenger - 1983 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk_(software)

(okay, that was a joke)

But only the cool kids owned smart phones in 1996.

Hey, I did :)

But I gave that stuff up in 2005 ;)

It used to be called Facebook Messenger. Not sure when it changed.

Around when Microsoft gifted Facebook the @messenger twitter handle. Though I'm unsure if Microsoft also owned the messenger domain


It was sometime in the last year wasn't it? I ask because I seem to recall a kerfuffle with Messenger and the new(ish) Google SMS app also called Messenger.

I've deleted fb messenger now but this was on my app menu for a while. Very unhelpful. > https://twitter.com/KatAlexPas/status/822434870223896576

To change your status without notifying everyone, you first change the visibility of your relationship status to "Only Me" and save it, then change the status, then change visibility back to your preferred option. Sharing activities like this is kinda the main point of Facebook, so it's not surprising that is the default.

Agreed, changing to married status is an issue. I read about a potential workaround once: set your marriage status but have the privacy to "me" so no one else sees it. Then change it back to public. I haven't tried it honestly, because I feel like Facebook have considered the trick.

>That, and you also can't change your relationship status to married retroactively without Facebook notifying every person in your contact list.

Updating your relationship status to single doesn't notify anyone any more, fyi.

Until they put it back. There's no way of knowing what's facebook is doing today.

The message from unicorns like Facebook, Uber, Google to the world is "We will be as absolutely dickish as possible to establish and secure our market dominance and wealth."

It's always like that. Power seeks more power, and users be damned!

Yes, it's apparently shocking that even internet companies work in exactly the same capitalistic manner as pre-internet companies.

No, SF and tech companies are going to be socially conscious and Change the World.

"But most importantly we're making the world a better place. Through constructing elegant hierarchies for maximum code reuse and extensibility."

-Silicon Valley, Season 1, Episode 1


GP describes some of the Facebookinest behavior one could imagine, and it's like "holy shit! Facebook has done some Facebook-ass shit now!" Facebook constantly surprises everyone, merely by Facebooking as it has always Facebooked.

Reset the phone to factory default?

Im confused. You are upset about FB notifying people about a fact you personally decided to broadcast openly to the whole internet.

Changing a piece of information online is very different than directly notifying everyone you know of the change.

I'm just going to take a moment here to vent about the nuisance it has become for me to deal with smartphone app notifications.

It isn't just facebook, although facebook is probably the worst. I live in a city and I pretty much need a smartphone to do anything, but it has become so annoying dealing with the myriad of notifications and advertisements from random apps, and trying to find settings to disable everything.

90% of the time when my phone buzzes it's because sprig is telling me I need to eat dinner. Messenger is telling me it's someone's birthday. Yelp is trying to tell me there's popular a new spot nearby. Hell, even youtube was sending me recommended videos and touching the notification caused this random video to immediately play, using mobile data.

It is getting out of hand. You have to figure out how to disable this stuff in each app independently, sometimes digging through confusing options menus looking for buried settings. Sometimes I haven't even found a way.

This has taught me to usually ignore my phone, but it's especially annoying if I'm waiting for an important e-mail or text. My smartphone has just become an advertisement line sending bullshit that I don't care about, that I have to wade through to get to important stuff.

Am I the only one? Is there a solution to this?

Uninstall the apps and give them a bad star rating. Yelp especially should be familiar with this process.

The Facebook Mobile website issues quite good. Unfortunately no messenger support, but my circle of friends aren't messenger people.

You can still send messages over https://mbasic.facebook.com.

There's a very simple solution: Uninstall the apps. I promise you, it's still very easy do things without them.

But if you're looking for a way to get free services from these companies, I got bad news. Nothing is free.

In Android, you can easily disable all notifications for any particular app.

Settings -> Notifications -> {app} -> Block All

It's even easier than that. Instead of sliding the notification off the screen, slide it ever so slightly to the right. It displays this little gear thing, and you can block all notifications for that app from right there. I have a stock Nexus phone so YMMV.

It's roughly the same in iOS. I have almost every app notification disabled. I'll just check them when I check them, rather than getting distracted.

For me, it's under:

Settings -> Sound & notification -> Manage app notifications

This took me several minutes to figure out because I had a mental blind spot to "Sound & notifications" due to the fact that the option has a speaker/volume icon. I made the mistake of trusting the icon as a sincere shortcut for understanding the text it's supposed to represent.

This is just what I was looking for, surprised I didn't find it already. Thanks.

In Android 5 or higher, you can simply deny notification permissions to the app by long-pressing on any notification until it changes to the app icon and name of the app, then pressing again.

You can also press and hold for half a second and slowly swipe right on the notification to get a cog icon that will let you ban the app.

exactly. I recently switched to android phone and it's one of the most cool features.

iOS has always had this feature, in the settings > notifications menu.

Sure, but I switched from Windows 8 Phone, never used iOS :) Windows didn't bother me with the notification at all as far as I recall!

When you get a notification, don't pause it or make it temporarily go away. Do whatever it takes to make that not happen again. It's like unsubscribing or marking emails as spam, rather than just archiving.

>Am I the only one? Is there a solution to this?

No. Disable notifications. Both iOS and Android have this configurable.

The solution is the have a GNU phone, with open source software and firmware all the way down the stack. There it is, it's not a popular opnion around here, or especially within the government ("mah backdoors!"), but the fact of the matter is there is no reason I shouldn't be able to have full granular access control over any program on my phone or computer, down to root.

I am increasingly convinced that RMS was/is a man so far ahead of his time that he was bound to be misunderstood, misconstrued, and lambasted for it, but in the end I think he is right.

Either the user controls the program or the program controls the user. The problem here is not the app, but the platform the app is on. Android isn't much better. Google had a good chance to put linux on phones for everyone, but had to go and proprietarize and BSDize the fuck out of it until it became almost impossible to have root on some phones. I'm sure In-Q-Tel and the after-sex smoking level of coziness google has with the gov doesn't factor into that though /s.

When the totalitarian dystopia hits, people who have learned how to deal with the imperfections and quirks of FOSS ecosystems will be the new freedom fighters, ahead of the game.

You should also consider acquiring some off-grid land where you can build a shelter stocked with MREs, ammunition, and guns. Make sure also to keep some of your saving in physical gold that you keep in your possession, and don't wear any hats you didn't make yourself...

I saw this from a mile away. Deactivated my account in 2007. Had twitter for a bit then knocked that out too, linkedin I think I had for a day before I noped out of that. Maybe it's just that I hate social media. I also generally hate apps other than browsers. I use to have an app for my brokerage and I just hated it; I like trading on my 8 screen beast. Which is one reason why after playing with Robinhood I noped out of that too since at least when I had it, it was for mobile only.

I use my iphone for reading news sites, looking at raw data while I'm out waiting for..say food or whatever. Google/duckduckgo I use for basic searches sure. I don't use weather's app, I prefer weather.gov which when accessing via iphone is a mobile site not an app.

I don't suspect people going this way in mass, but I could see it catching on so there might be a way to hedge towards that.

I agree with you, its a total and utter mess.

I am constantly picking up my phone (iOS) to make a call or look something up, placing my thumb over the home button, and realizing before its too late that there are some kind of messages/notifications on the lock screen that I wasn't alerted to, previously, while the phone was locked. Its too late because the screen unlocks, but no matter where I go I am never able to re-locate those messages. I just see them, get a clue that there are notifications, but they are nowhere to be found - not in the notifications screen (apparently designed for this purpose), nor in any app with badge indicators, or whatever. Its gotten so bad that I refer to these as 'ghost notifications', and I'll never know what they were.

So I think its just a complete cockup, UI-wise.

I don't give apps notification privs.

The solution is to delete the apps. I get enough notifications from texts and emails.

Sounds like a self-imposed problem. Why do you "need" a smart phone because you live in a city? A lot of people would disagree with you.

Anyway, I don't know about Android, but it's easy to turn off notifications in iOS, and the notification settings for every app are all in one section of the global phone settings:


I needed a smart phone when I moved to the city for maps and train schedules. At the time I moved it was just after a snow storm and hunting for parking was very difficult. I used the maps and GPS functionality to guide me back into the area I lived when I strayed too far. It definitely helped with the stress.

Long press on each notification.

This will take you to where you can disable notifications for that specific app.

I'm puzzled by the idea of "I live in a city and I pretty much need a smartphone to do anything". I also live in a city (albeit a small one) and rarely even switch on my smartphone. What are some of the things that you can't do without one? The only thing I can guess offhand is Uber, but I walk everywhere.

> Am I the only one?

Definitely not.

> Is there a solution to this?

Nokia Asha.

I'm assuming your on an iPhone? Cause Android handles this much much much better.

They both offer pretty much the same features for managing notifications.

What annoys me about Facebook is that:

* Production appear to be the only QA they do

* Most of the time _something_ doesn't work... then you come back and it suddenly works, then it's broken again

* The news feed is non-deterministic. You can refresh and see something completely different

* Features [like the one in question] are always "opt-out" or "on by default". The attitude is "force the user to use the new feature" rather than improving it until people _actually want_ to use it

I'm glad to see them get into hot water on that last point. I see this user-hostile "we know better than you" authoritarian attitude taking over quite a few tech companies.

The news feed is non-deterministic. You can refresh and see something completely different

This always struck me as intentional. It gets you to refresh more and stay on the site longer hoping to get a little bit of something new.

Yeah, as a user I actually like it. They have so much data that I can refresh and usually find something more interesting than the queue I'm standing in. It doesn't work somewhere like Twitter/Instagram where the order of posts can matter and people post multiple times per day but on Facebook it generally works.

To each their own, I can see how some would like it but it's absolutely infuriating to me to be clicking away, and then suddenly see something interesting that I want to open in a new tab. So I go back, and surprise! Entirely new list of items.

"Oh, I guess my friend didn't post that, Facebook was just showing me something they reacted to".

No way of ever finding it again, unless if someone can conjure up or point me where to watch my friends reactions? The inconsistency of the newsfeed (between the above behavior, and the constant need to change the sort order to "most recent" because no matter how many times I choose that option I always find it flips back to "Top stories") is by far the most aggravating thing about using the site to me, personally.

On Facebook I use their 'saved' feature so I save anything I see that I find interesting before moving away. I totally understand though as I have this problem with Instagram.

The really annoying part is when you accidentally click some link that opens in the same tab, or click back, or do anything else that needs to reload the page to open the feed. You effectively lose all progress you've made reading through it.

This is my biggest problem with it. I don't mind so much that if I force refresh of the timeline it changes but if I click on something, either on purpose or accidently, and I come back I am not where I left off and the timeline is completely different now.

> Features [like the one in question] are always "opt-out" or "on by default". The attitude is "force the user to use the new feature" rather than improving it until people _actually want_ to use it

Actually, they are not even "opt out" just "not now" (temporal opt out). Some time later, they WILL ask you again and then some time later again. Pretty annoying!

* Production appear to be the only QA they do

This [1] is a good video on part of their QA process, and it gives an overview of how something goes from dev to production.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcVx3g3SmmY

> * Most of the time _something_ doesn't work... then you come back and it suddenly works, then it's broken again

It does say, "Move fast and break things" on the walls there.

It seems like this would eventually lead to a codebase that's, at Facebook's size, unmaintainable garbage. How do they make it work?

> How do they make it work?

Given that things are broken so often, maybe they don't.

#3 is why I use Most Recent sort, which of course they boot me out of every once in a while, and I have to re-select.

Bookmark this instead to avoid being booted out of it:


So do I, but even that seems non-deterministic. FB is thoroughly awful, but still somewhat useful to me.

They embrace their culture: Move fast and break things.

Before I complain, is there anyway to save a post on fb? Every now and then I like something and want to get back to it someday...

Yes. In the top right of the post there is an expandable menu. One of the choices is save post or save link to post.

I don't like the news feed, but it's still better than most apps.

I almost quit FB. They got me back with the news feed, but as always, with a fake idenity. It's just going to get better--which is troubling.

I see so many new start-ups, and wonder why I still can't get a good news site. A site that takes advantage of big data?(Yes--I know you don't have that easy "viewed" data).

If I was designing a news site, I would first need a good source of news. I would then need a program (didn't say algorithm because it's overused) that feeds the news to the customers on data(views--where to get that? Twitter? Google?). Then you need the program to filter out the gratituios views(any news story with a big ass, or sexual in nature). The API needs to be intuitive.

There's probally a website out there that accomplishes this, but I'm too lazy to hunt, and will not pay yet.

Hell--at this point; I thinking of incorporating a serious news site, with a light porn site. It seems like porn is the only thing that most people will shill up for?

People pay money for porn?

  The case will go forward with Facebook defending its text  
  messages on technical grounds; it argues that the texts
  were not automated because Brickman and others who received
  them had supplied Facebook with their phone numbers. 
That sounds like a strange definition of "automated" and a very weak argument.

If that passes muster, the next argument we'll hear will be, "we bought this list of numbers from ATT, and your number is on the list, so our robocall to your number isn't really 'automated', per se."

A spammer used that exact defense before, that it's not spam, because they used legal means to obtain the email addresses.

A slashdot poster once compared that to (if I can add some embellishment) saying that "I have a valid driver's license and comply with local laws, therefore I can park on your lawn."


My guess is that they're attempting to show that they're not subject to laws against auto-dialing, which is typically just a machine that dials numbers incrementally or randomly.

On my dad's birthday, my aunt got one of those "reply 1 to post happy birthday" texts. She replied 1. And it posted 1 onto my dad's timeline, not happy birthday.


Oh what a very well thought a and nicely implemented feature... Not

Typical of fb "new features". Annoying and half broken

Version 2 posts "true" to the timeline.

So they moved from C to C++?

It's a perfect opportunity for a rewrite.

Version 3 posts "undefined"

Facebook's attitude - "when Facebook forces itself on you, it's just good parenting".

Full decision, if anyone's interested:


And this is why I haven't set up 2FA: I don't trust them (or Google) not to abuse my phone number.


> Facebook attorneys argued that the TCPA's allowed exceptions—for emergency communications and debt collectors

Debt collectors get a special exemption?

no they don't. The article isn't reporting accurately on Facebook's argument. The TCPA has exceptions for emergency communications and debt collection activity where the debt is owed to or guaranteed by the federal government. General debt collection most certainly isn't exempt from TCPA compliance.

I think it is because debt collection calls are regulated by a different law (the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

They should charge a small amount of money to maintain a "Facebook account", and argue that responding "Happy Birthday!" is repayment of a debt via the increased ad exposure. The birthday reminders themselves also have a monetary value, based on the conversion rate.

Sort of off-topic but something that I've noticed that Facebook does that is really scummy is they make you receive an email notification before you can opt-out of that type. At one point I set my email notification preferences to "Only notifications about your account, security and privacy" but that had the consequence of not getting notifications if someone sent me a message. So I changed it back to all notifications but then I had to get all the different types of emails (recent statuses from your friends, recent photos from your friends, recent videos from your friends, etc.) in order to opt-out of each one individually. On the notification setting page, all I can do is opt back in to receiving the notifications, not opt out of other notifications that I am currently set to receive.

Does anyone know how to selectively turn off the email notifications without first receiving them?

No, but if it bothers you so much, you can always use email filters. I've told all my friends not to use Facebook if they want to message me. And the other people aren't urgent so if I see the message only next week, that's ok.

Thanks but that's the page I was talking about. I can only choose to re-enable email notifications that I've turned off there. I can't disable notifications from that page, I have to wait to get an email that I don't want to unsubscribe from that type of notification. I can see why they'd do it, but it's still really sleazy.

Is anyone from the TCPA bar here? How long does it typically take for a TCPA class action law suit to proceed?

The timing on this seems unfortunate (for professional TCPA claimants):

We have a president who might not like this law so much[1]. He also wants to reduce regulation (see his executive order). Ajit Pai has first amendment rights as one of his core issues[2]. I could, howe er, be incorrectly conflating Pai's conception of the first amendment and Facebook's.

Ready for a repeal of the TCPA? We could be headed that way.

[1]: Thorne v. Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.

[2]: https://www.fcc.gov/about/leadership/ajit-pai

FCC can't repeal the TCPA, only Congress can do that, and it's unlikely given the way even modest amendments to the law have been roundly criticized. Last try in 2013 was the only time I've seen Mother Jones, NYT editorial page, Bill O'Reilly, and the Wall Street Journal agree on something.

The new chair of the FCC could whittle away at many of the consumer-friendly rulings of the agency, but those date back to 2003 and it would be hard to throw all of them out. Any new regulations could also be challenged judicially and that would delay their effective date. So I don't anticipate a major, sudden change. It also seems like Pai's agenda puts a high priority on reversing net neutrality and other telecom stuff and not the TCPA.

This ruling against Facebook is not that important. Article itself says that the Ninth Circuit has shot down constitutional challenges to the law in '95 and in '14, the latter went to the USSC but not on those grounds.

(to answer your first question, it's about 3-5 years from filing to final settlement.)

First. There is a difference between "texts" (SMS) and "notifications" (Apples own private system). Suing Facebook by confusing the courts on this difference is absolutely horrifying. I am no facebook fanboy, but push notifications should not be handled by the "Telephone Communications Privacy Act". W(who)tf wrote this confusing article. We engineers here have a responsibility to know the difference.

I am sure lawyers are laughing over whiskey somewhere.

"You see, Brickman had opted out of receiving texts from Facebook via the platform's notification settings."

then later in the article

"The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, argues that Facebook's sending unauthorized text messages is a violation of the federal Telephone Communications Privacy Act (TCPA)."

Why is the distinction important? I have heard people regularly confuse the two but now I'm wondering if it even matters outside of a technical discussion.

The only difference of my head is because one is messages received over the network and the other is messages generated by your phone (which can certainly be from network messages, but could also be because you have arrived at your destination, reach your fitbit goal, etc).

No where in the article are notifications mentioned. Part of the law being used is that the text has to be delivered to a phone number so I'd be very surprised if this was about notifications.

If this IS about sending notifications then I'd agree that it's very poor. However, if Facebook are sending SMS messages when the user has opted out then I think that a suit is probably fair enough.

The activity at issue in the suit is SMS text messaging, not IP push notifications.

Text message notifications are set via Facebook's notification settings page... so this all looks valid? Sounds like they opted out of getting text messages, and then still got one. Not sure where you are reading "push notifications" into this.

This communication would be protected under the first amendment if they addressed the recipient by name, used the senders name and had a mechanism for replying to a human being. That's one to one speech. If they failed to adhere to that standard it's likely their communication would be classified as one to many communication and therefore subject to TCPA and a host of other restrictions.

I'm going to play devil's advocate here...

Sending a text does no harm, receiving a text incurs no harm. This lawsuit is ridiculous. There has to be some sense of harm done at some point, doesn't there?

We're filing lawsuits over being annoying now...

Weird. Of all the things I'm concerned about @ FB...spam texts is not one of them

How many of those are counted in DAU/MAUs if this is their only action of a day?

Is it me or is everyone using the First Amendment to invent all sorts of new stuff these days. Can I throw a rock at my neighbor's window and claim the first amendment allowed me to do so because I don't like them?

Some activities besides literal speech are considered expressive enough to qualify for First Amendment protection (e.g. flag burning, tearing up draft cards), but throwing rocks probably wouldn't qualify.

No, because that would be property damage.

So much for the tolerant left! ;)

Please, PLEASE let this be expanded to telemarketers and email spammers, et. al.

I'm not really sure what this is about, but I only use the browser version of Facebook (which is very functional), so that may be why.

It will be interesting to see how this settles out legally. In the mean time, don't share your phone number with bots.

Whenever one of these posts come around, people start sharing horrible experiences they've had with facebook and how they're "scaling back" or tailoring their facebook usage ie. using the mobile browser instead of the app. It's a strange discussion. Just leave the platform and send a formal request to delete your account. It's like reading a meth addict forum.

It's not so easy to leave when so many people are in your contact list only on fb and also there are many discussions and posts made on fb that one would miss out on.

Curious, are these discussions and posts really important?

How many crucial conversations have taken place only on Facebook?

I removed my account a couple of years ago when I found out stuff about people that I would have been happier not knowing. And I haven't missed much.

I don't expect that my social life and yours are that similar though.

Personally, I joined Facebook only because the co-working office space that I rent space in coordinate most events and notices through a private Facebook group. To know (for example) when government representatives or media are going to be on-site.

I still don't really use facebook socially at all.

I keep Facebook around so old friends can contact me and that's it. I used to use it every day when it was a way to communicate with friends and family and share pics of your experiences with friends.

Eventually it became a place for people to show off or bitch at each other because it's easier than doing it in person.

The ranking algorithm prioritizes annoying shit that will maximize ads and "engagement" over things I actually want to see like pics from my friends wedding.

Fuck Facebook and messenger. I login about once a week to check my messages and immediately log out. Snapchat now is a lot of what Facebook used to be

I've been ignoring Facebook for the last three weeks, not even intentionally. If I've missed much, I sure can't tell. I still keep in touch with people I care about. And I've gotten a few "look at my phone" highlights in person anyway. I think I'd feel like I missed out more by not visiting HN, tbh.

deleted my profile 10 years back. everytime someone takes a picture of me, i explicitly tell them not to post it on facebook.

i deleted my number from Facebook but it still keeps the number asks me to confirm it for security whenever i login.

How can a non-human entity be entitled to free speech...

So, the problem is if you try to treat, say, an LLC as if it's not an entity with any constitutional rights, then, .... it has no constitutional rights.

Want microsoft or google or facebook to have a 4th amendment right not to give up your searches or email? Sorry, not a human entity!

Want CNN to have the right to publish news under the 1st amendment? Sorry, not a human entity!

At least in our legal system, you have no standing to really raise constitutional violations or rights issues of others (except in very very specific circumstances). This is in large part because it would be ridiculously difficult and complicated to make such a thing work (can anyone do it? If so, who gets to do it? First person? Person you like the best? etc)

So the solution chosen was to treat these entities as having rights.

Not an ideal solution on it's own, mind you, but let's call it a "workaround" for a set of very very hard problems.

But every time i see someone say "corporations shouldn't be treated like people", my answer is, "sure, this is pretty much a truism. How do you actually implement it in a way that isn't a complete disaster, though?"

As I understand it, to allow certain types of lobbying or something companies lobbied for, there's a ruling in the US that companies are people in some contexts.

Whilst corporations are entities apart from their directors, I find this being twisted to mean they are people incredibly distasteful.

They are not considered people. They are considered persons. In a legal context, a person is not a human being, but any entity to which rights or responsibilities (also read: liabilities) can be attached.

No court has said they are human beings. And they do not have all human rights. They have only those rights which law and case law have put upon them.

You are right the term is person. And they do not have all human rights. I am no expert in the US constitution either. However I still feel that a corporation argueing for rights to free speech (like Facebook here) is not in the spirit of the contstitution. Free speech is a human right not a corporate one

I understand it's probably overly simplistic but can I ask why it's distasteful? The concept is referred to as corporate personhood so I'm not sure why referring to companies as people in the relevant contexts is distasteful as opposed to simplistic.

In the modern world, it seems, corporations have all the rights of people, but are beholden to none of the obligations.

Because the right to peaceably assemble is also expressly enumerated as an activity protected by the First Amendment.

But hey, they freed a country!

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