Friday, 10 July 2009

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.”

Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

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