Anger after scam-exposing community shut down by Facebook

Filed Under: Data loss, Facebook, Privacy, Rogue applications, Social networks, Spam

The Bulldog EstateIn a bizarre and hard-to-understand move, a Facebook page which claims it helped countless Facebook members stay safe online on the social network has been shut down... by Facebook.

The Bulldog Estate is one of a number of different resources on the internet dealing with the subject of Facebook scams, rogue applications, and the like. Other examples include Scam Sniper, FaceCrooks and Sophos's own Facebook community.

On Monday 18th April, the Facebook page belonging to Scam Sniper was shut down by Facebook authorities:

Later that day, the same fate befell The Bulldog Estate's Facebook presence, leading the scam-exposing site to say that Facebook had made a bad PR move:

The Scam Sniper Facebook page was eventually restored, but Tony Mazan, the owner of The Bulldog Estate, hasn't had the same luck.

Mazan has been contacting Facebook since Monday attempting to understand why The Bulldog Estate's Facebook page was closed, and how it might be recovered.

Today Mazan received a standard response from Facebook, which still wasn't specific about the reasons that The Bulldog Estate's Facebook presence had been killed off:

"Hi Tony

You created a Page that has violated our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and this Page has been removed. Facebook Pages may only be set up for the purpose of promoting a business or other commercial, political, or charitable organization or endeavor (including non-profit organizations, political campaigns, bands and celebrities), and only by an authorized representative of the entity or individual that is the subject of the Facebook Page. By creating a Facebook Page, you represent and warrant that you are authorized to do so by the person or entity that is the subject of the Facebook Page. Among other violations, Pages that are hateful, threatening, or obscene are not allowed. We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group or that promote or glorify violence, intolerance, racism or discrimination. Continued misuse of Facebook's features could result in your account being disabled."

This "explanation" clearly hasn't satisfied the many fans of The Bulldog Estate, who have created pages urging Facebook to reinstate The Bulldog Estate, and left messages on Facebook's official safety pages.

Tony Mazan"We helped countless members on Facebook and supported Facebook in trying to help Facebook users stay safe online, We do not advertise or make money from our help, our blog writers are volunteers, and our admins are volunteers," Tony Mazan of The Bulldog Estate told Naked Security. "What we can not understand is why Facebook removed a real help group and yet there are thousands of rogue applications, thousands of hate filled pages, thousand of fake profiles. We are as real as it gets and get shut down."

"Is it because Facebook security never gets comments like 'We Love you' or 'thanks for always alerting us on time with user-friendly information'," continued Mazan. "As one of our supporters said - you may shut the dog outside, but you will never silence the bark."

Although the language used on The Bulldog Estate's website doesn't beat around the bush, it seems clear to me that the content they produce is beneficial and helps Facebook users avoid scams and other attacks.

Maybe Facebook needs to be a little less robotic in its shutdown of this scam-exposing community, and could work a little more closely with Tony Mazan and his colleagues to bring what is a helpful resource for its users?

Update: The Bulldog Estate reports that its Facebook page has now been restored, and that Facebook has apologised for its mistake.

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22 Responses to Anger after scam-exposing community shut down by Facebook

  1. Awesome article ! So glad to see the voices of the little guy heard.
    http://facebook-and-computer-security-fixes.blogs...

    I mentioned you in that blog post the other day and how you and many others were trying to help. Keep up all the incredible work !!!

  2. Not Happy User · 1245 days ago

    i was on that site yesterday and i posted about the tons of tagging scams that everyone is being tagged in. I posted the bulldog page like 20 times last night and it had the current crap on it. I love this page and it should NOT ever be shut down. Fbook you made a huge mistake taking away the pages that really help us stay safe online.
    not happy user

    • Nunnyabusiness · 1245 days ago

      Posting the same link to a page 20 times in one day is considered spamming and you can have your account deactivated also. Read the TOS.

  3. Tony Mazan · 1245 days ago

    Thanks for a great article, We are grateful of your support

  4. Canuckgirl · 1245 days ago

    I was totally disappointed when I read that they shut down the bulldog page. I said to myself what will we do now. I joined last week and love this page. You keep us uptodate on the scams (which are plentiful these days) and I thank you and your friends for all your help.
    As this article stated, Facebook should be working with you and not against you on this page. Sometimes I wonder about them, people report malice pages and they don't respond this fast.

    On a brighter note, I am very pleased that it's back up and running.
    A BIG THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK

  5. Robin · 1245 days ago

    Wow and I know people who requested a site be shut down because it was personally attacking them and they never did, it's still there! So now they think nothing of shutting down a site that truly does good and help people. I had a person I don't know make me an admin to a site that I'm not friends with and in attempt to take myself off of it it wanted to send me to a survey of course this is a scam so I didn't and I reported it to fb and they did nothing perhaps fb shouldn't allow someone to make you an admin to a site without being a friend. Do you think that will ever happen, I think not. I didn't even get a response from them saying they were checking into the situation. I thank all these sites that make you aware of new scams and rogue apps.

  6. ronjamin · 1245 days ago

    Facebook doesn't have ANY customer support. They couldn't give a fuck about you or anyone else, for that matter.

  7. Thu Win · 1245 days ago

    According to Bulldog estate, Facebook have reactivated their page.

  8. Compudoc · 1245 days ago

    It was a great article!

    I received something on my Facebook this morning (Thursday, 04-21-2011) that said the original Bulldog page had been restored. That's great news. it does show that social media can make a difference.

  9. I also saw and can confirm that The Bulldog Estate's original FB page has been restored. However, you have to go back to it and Re "Like" it.

  10. Tony Mazan · 1245 days ago

    Hello to all Readers of this great page.

    We can confirm that facebook has restored our Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/bulldog.estate .

    Again we would like to thank Sophos and Graham for the support.

  11. Majyklady · 1245 days ago

    Sounds like a bunch of young punks, with way too big egos, feel threatened. If they continue to shut down the ones that help us the most, and let the security threats stay, even after hundreds of thousands of reports, I will shut down my own FB account without hesitation. Makes me wonder just how much FB cares about our security.

  12. Shane Fontenot · 1245 days ago

    Great article! I just became a fan of Bulldog Estate and Scam Sniper.

  13. Robert · 1245 days ago

    Facebook score yet another Own-Goal. They do nothing or next to it to step up security & protect it's users to combat rampant spam & scamming & then go around clue-less targeting the ones doing their bloody job for them.

    It's like firing the maid who cleaned up for you that you never paid in the first place.

    'tarded.

  14. Serbian Scammer · 1245 days ago

    im glad they shut those spammers down
    :)

  15. Excellent article Graham! I'm stoked that Bulldog is back up and running :)

  16. @ronjamin we're not facebook's customers. FB's customers are the advertisers, we're just a tool for bringing in the ad money.

  17. Teresa Stokes · 1245 days ago

    Well, we've been attacking the spammers for sure, and they are individuals, so I guess that came within Facebook's remit of "We take down pages which attack an individual or a group". Hmm, why should the scammers be afforded such protection, when kids are committing suicide after being bullied on Facebook pages which one might think should be a priority for removal. Facebook will only remove a page if somebody reports it for abuse, and I have always suspected the scammers are reporting the scam-fighting pages for abuse because such sites interfere with their nefarious ways.

  18. Katherine Lorraine · 1244 days ago

    I once posted a link on my Facebook about scams, and it was taken off... I don't know how or why, but it was gone.

    Facebook doesn't like transparency, and that's one of the reasons I've ditched it.

  19. Rebecca Read · 1244 days ago

    "We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group or that promote or glorify violence, intolerance, racism or discrimination."

    With as much good information as BDE may possibly have and pass on pertaining to scams, it is my contention that the BDE's stance on Gamers Unite! is what possibly caused him to get into this bind in the first place.

    Mr. Mazan has continuously removed comments that contradict his own viewpoint, and even prove his statements wrong. Included in on his viewpoints pertaining to Gamers Unite! is his recommendation to remove from friends lists anybody who uses Gamers Unite! because he feels that those who do are cheating and using a snag bar. He even flat out has said that anybody who can be tied in with that site is doing nothing but cheating. These types of statements are untrue and do promote intolerance and a form of discrimination.

    He has used his stance in the community to perpetuate lies and intolerance, breeding paranoia and in many cases bullying and harassment simply because of his reporting on this subject. What the people who read his articles on this subject don't understand is that he is passing off his OPINION as FACT. A true person wanting to help the community would never do that.

    Scam Sniper has never, ever taken a stance against GU such as Mr. Mazan has on the BDE. I believe that is why Mr. Mazan's Page took you and others to get it reinstated. I would never have supported him and fought for him to be reinstated on FB. Yet another sheep looking only at the surface. How sad.

  20. Catrachito · 1243 days ago

    Well anyways, its good to know that when I google the word 'naked', I find your site as the search result #1. :)

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.