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back to article Angry commentard mobs to feel Facebook jackboot in site tweak

Facebook has tweaked how comments are displayed on the free-content advertising network by allowing it to effectively filter out irrelevant or possibly abusive replies on a Page. The new feature will be switched on by default on 10 July for profiles with more than 10,000 followers. And for now, it's consigned only to the desktop …

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So basically the push all tge positive comments to the top in an attemp to bury the negative...

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Anonymous Coward

This

Lets all those 'celebrities' promote and gain advantage when promoting products such as 'have you tried my new shampoo' or 'I love my new BMW X5'.

Instead of those replies like 'what a tw*t'

Time to see Facebook for what it is, advertising.

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I bet Virgin Media were beta testers for this!

I did wonder how Sea Shepherd were doing their filtering as they mentioned recently that any derogatory terms for the Japanese would be immediately deleted. That does seem like a more sensible use, but I don't believe for a second that companies won't use it to filter out valid negative comments.

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JDX
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Re: This

>>Time to see Facebook for what it is, advertising.

You think it's a revelation that people using FB Pages for their business/product is advertising? You know, a bit like their own websites?

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No chronological order

I've just found a big problem with the new system: Comments no longer appear in chronological order.

So if A posts a comment, then B replies, but B's post gets more likes, it gets bumped up above A's post, but C's reply to B might appear below A's...

This makes any discussion style comments virtually incomprehensible.

Bravo Failbook!

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Didn't a certain vulture-themed IT news website recently add a very similar "Highly Rated" feature to its comments? :)

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What it didn't do is add a "downvote this comment into oblivion" function. Good thing too. Far too many religious fanatics about for that to work well.

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While it allows owners to try and suppress bad comments, it is still a useful feature based on the way the other changes are described.

Also, how DO you expect a tool which allows users to fight trolling/spam not to also be usable to selectively promote/demote stuff?

But finally, it's worth noting that for companies using FB effectively as a webpage, this is way less control than they can use on their own site. Deleting unfavourable forum posts or what have you is very common when you own the site so this isn't actually changing anything except giving owners more control over things rather than letting FB be in charge as much.

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promotion/demotion

Any tool can be used constructively or destructively. There'll always be people who will use a feature to fluff the numbers.

As a feature it makes sense for Facebook-as-advertising-agent. And not really that invasive, since by the description it simply influences trending for display, not outright censure. Which is why the "Free Speech? " subtitle has me puzzled.

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Mushroom

Good or bad comments.

I do like how good and bad comments can sway the public.

I mean sure yes that within 5 replies down the comment section each party will start calling the other party a nazi but it does not matter and that is where facebook fails to understand to uphold American principles of free speech. By hiding it by any method is not free speech and if they do not like free speech then perhaps they should leave America and get their services hosted elsewhere.

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FAIL

Re: Good or bad comments.

No, your 1st amendment rights are not being curtailed - the right to free speech does not mean you can freely write whatever you want wherever you want and that noone can prevent you from doing so. It merely gives you the right to say what you wish (within certain limits).

A rating system, whereby negative comments are relegated to a less visible area of the comment stream, does not prevent you from saying what you wish to say. Next you'll be telling me that, because older comments are less visible on comment streams that are ordered by date, with the newer comments shown more prominently, this is also curtailing your right to free speech because you commented first and now people have to scroll all the way down to see what you said.

In fact, as I understand it, freedom of speech provisions in the first amendment extend solely to what the government can't do to curtail your speech. Facebook is not government so they can, in fact, do what they wish with the comments. If you don't like that, don't use Facebook.

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"companies using FB effectively as a web page"

If I detect a company using FB as a web page I make a point of not visiting it. Is that what such companies mean by "effective"?

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@Inachu

Ah, the typical teenage misunderstanding of the internet.... "it's the INTERNET, I can do whatever I want otherwise they're NAZIS oppressing my FREEDOM!!!1"

A website belongs to someone buddy. FaceBook is someone's property. If I own a website I can delete content on it as I damn well please if I don't like it - just like The Register deletes comments which it doesn't like.

A website gives you far fewer rights than the real world... no recourse, it's typically a dictatorship and you can't do anything to appeal.

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Headmaster

Re: Good or bad comments.

Exactly. Free speech in the USA means the government can't stop you, except for certain limits that make total sense. It has absolutely nothing at all to do with what a corporation will or will not allow.

Some people may not realize this but it wasn't until 1925 that the Supreme Court effectively hamstrung states from limiting free speech as well.

A company deleting comments is not a free speech issue. If this site wanted to delete all my comments that would be perfectly within their power. No one is required to let you say whatever you want wherever/however you want; especially not with their own tools. That's equivalent to standing inside your local retailer and shouting to everyone inside about how they suck. You will be asked to leave; and the police will get involved if you don't.

However if you want to put up a web page decrying how Apple, Sony, Nike or even your local grocery store has ruined your life, then by all means to ahead.

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Boffin

Re: Good or bad comments.

Not what I meant.

Sure if the comments age sure let them die off the page perhaps but if by bumping on purpose just to kick off bad comments then yes that is just manipulation in the extreme and I am sure it will be just like that.

People who bump who they want to bump. Seems if I want to keep my comments in viewing then I must keep posting to get the relavant responses wanted or needed. Just need to fix any sort of way like Amazon does that prevents people from promoting their own story by hiding as a regular commenter.

Just saying they did not fully think this out and it will still be abused and will be used to hide comments that are not desired at all. WHich means they got a weak spine.

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Re: @Inachu

I do agree somewhat to that and yes its their own server but when you do post to have your viewpoints seen and to be read then it is best to have all comments treated fairly.

Sure yeah if I was an arse then yes delete my comments but if I flip the message against the subject topic against a message poster then they get their jimmies in a bunch and cry to the MODS to have my posts deleted. My point is to be treated fairly and knowing how the political stance is of facebook I already know how I will be treated. Is facebook at this moment fair? No. But all comments should be regarded as fine unless found to be in super bad taste.

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Boffin

Re: Good or bad comments.

I also agree to what you say about in the above but when lets say someone bashes SUBGECT A and I try to flip the coin and feed it back to them and then get banned on facebook then I blame facebook immaturity at banning when I am just letting people taste their own medicine of their own making.

The above same did happen to me and the immature facebook staff with their certain political stance favored the other side when in fact all I wanted to do was to treat all humans as humans but the other side did not see it like that at all because their EQ is not very matured as of yet.

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Facebook changes

Remind me again, why I should care?

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Re: Facebook changes

Well, you cared enough to comment on the article, so perhaps you should answer your own question.

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Black Helicopters

Or, to use a newspaper expression:

"Below the fold". Because no one reads that. Oldest trick in the book. Beloved of politicians, as it can be done with absolutely (a) no money, and more importantly (b) no trail linking you to any media outlet.

Ever wonder why with the state of the country, newpapers have stories about X-Factor fallouts on the front page ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or, to use a newspaper expression:

... or why the food standards agency "reveals" the latest "I can't believe it's not beef" stories only on Fridays, the weekend being the biggest 'fold' of all.

I can understand why FB has to walk the tightrope with advertisers to help them shine up the unpolishable turd, but the balancing act between 'communications tool' and 'giant billboard' is as fine as the one between 'useful' and 'useless', and even public gullibility has its limits.

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Devil

Facebook Users?

Cry me a river.

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Re: Facebook Usees?

Fixed the title for you.

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Commercial Nonsense

The concept of "liking" commercial pages is largely ridiculous.

Having commercial pages at all shows just what a cynical operation Facebook has become.

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Re: Commercial Nonsense

Just the whole "Like us on Facebook for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip on the first commercial Mars flight!" Otherwise, I don't think there'd be any likes

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Stop

Re: Commercial Nonsense

Ridiculous? Tell that to the growing number of small/local entrepeneurs who manage to use Facebook effectively for marketing and networking. The Like-system works quite well for them.

Or the local clubs who use their facebook page to create a multi-platform information outlet to inform interested people of their activities? Without too much hassle and the need for l33t coding skills/bandwidth/time-intensive page maintenance

Bottom line is that whether you love or hate Facebook, the Like-system is at least properly OPT-IN , and offers a "free" method of product marketing and/or publicity that would otherwise be a too costly affair for most small busineses/organisations.

Yes, there are ways to abuse the system, but if you apply the same rules to your friends list and likes as you would as if you were a forum admin ( which amounts to "common sense"), and unfriend/unlike pages and people where necessary, Facebook is a useful tool that for a free service has less intrusive commercial/dodgy/malicious spam than at least half of the ad-driven commercial or "free" webpages.

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Re: Commercial Nonsense

"The Like-system works quite well for them." - only to the gullible. There is a "LIKE". There is no "Dislike" nor a "Meh, could care less", so any statistics drawn by the "Like" will be errant.

Keep an eye on the forum posts here. Imagine all the green thumbs are LIKEs and the red thumbs do not exist. Then wait for a heated debate (possibly anything involving Apple and Android ;-) ) and imagine you were happily shown the green but the red didn't exist.

As I said, those who like "Like" are gullible.

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Re: Commercial Nonsense, @ heyrick

Not really.. The clickbait would shift to the likes on the comments that fits the particular sentiment of the commentard that hits the button. If you want to offer a contrary opinion, you could actually sit down and spend a couple of minutes writing up a comment, instead of doing a drive-by clickety-action.

Besides that, a forum does not compare to Facebook. The mode of operation and intent of purpose are completely different. Apples and pears come to mind.

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Re: Commercial Nonsense

"Ridiculous? Tell that to the growing number of small/local entrepeneurs who manage to use Facebook effectively for marketing and networking. The Like-system works quite well for them."

I guess they imagine they get customers because of doing 'that FB stuff". And they lose customers (like me) who despise the idea.

Win some, lose some.

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Coat

@heyrick Re: Commercial Nonsense

Like!

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Anonymous Coward

Facebook has tweaked how comments are displayed on the content-free advertising network

"Facebook has tweaked how comments are displayed on the content-free advertising network[....]"

There, I think that's closer to the truth...

And as for the direction FarceBuuck is going in:

Those who do not study Slashdot are doomed to repeat it.

(I await the inevitable s/Slashdot/Usenet with glee.)

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FAIL

Or just get your missus to monitor your comments

Like a certain right-wing newspaper columnist in Australia that ended up losing the defamation case and had a massive tanty about it.

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free-content advertising network

content-free advertising network

fixed it for you

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Unhappy

"conversations will appear differently to each person depending on who they are friends with on the site. For example, missives by anyone who is a connection will appear at the top of the conversation."

...is it just me, or is this kind of antithetical to the notion of a 'social' environment? The idea is for lots of people to communicate - 'share', ahem - with one another all the time, right? Well, how does that work if the sharing medium automatically selects things so people only (or mostly) see what people they already know (and with whom they already agree) have to say?

Yeah, you can tailor things specifically to what and who people are 'interested in', but doesn't that basically ensure that people will never become interested in anything else? At some level, say, you have, for example, Electronic Gaming Monthly's Facebook page (or something). So you go there as someone interested in their absurdly glowing review of the Aliens game, and see all these comments about it - from people you know. But since you know and like people who tend to have the same kind of opinions and experiences, their thoughts will broadly mirror yours. There'll be a lot of chuckling and consensus but no real discussion.

And since everyone who goes sees something different, nobody is actually *discussing the thing itself*; they're discussing the thing as seen by their group of friends. There's no real communication, and nothing really 'social' about it, I don't think.

The same thing has been occurring in a self-organizing way with politics; people gravitate toward other people who agree with them, and become more and more convinced of and extreme in their views as they see more and more information that matches their beliefs and less and less that doesn't.

Even this forum is, to an extent, an example of that - if you just hang out here, you only find out how (mostly UK) tech guys think about things. And lo, I regularly see posts from people who truly don't seem to be able to grasp that other people have different interests and experiences and knowledge - eg, a discussion about marketing where guys will say, people who do internet advertising are so stupid, I've used adblock since 1982! And I don't own a television either, so people who make television programs are stupid too!

It's bizarre, but it seems like we're running the risk - in general - of having this amazing tool that took us from only being able to communicate with a few like-minded local people in the same demographic group, to being able to communicate with anyone anywhere on an equal footing... and carefully re-organizing the whole damn thing to provide the same limitations that we had when we were riding horses village to village. We'll have had this brief glorious period where a rich kid from Houston might strike up a conversation on IRC with a poor kid in his school in Russia, but as things get 'better and better', and as people (and now algorithms) tailor experiences to make sure they don't run into anything unexpected, normal service will be resumed: We'll all be spared from the ostensible discomfort of meeting anyone with a different perspective, or seeing opinions we don't already agree with. And we'll keep wondering why society keeps falling apart despite our making such an effort to be social.

WTF is up with that shit?

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Anonymous Coward

Our modern world is extremely good at forcing people into boxes or aggregations whether they like it or not. I thought one of the most memorable bits of BBC2s "The Virtual Revolution" was when of the interviewees, commenting on recommendation engines said something to the effect of "Amazon is very good at telling people like me what people like me are interested in". Which about sums up the effect the marketing driven internet has had on social discourse.

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@David W

Er, you agree with your friends on everything? How boring.

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It's not just you. I don't want Netflix filtering movies to those "like" what I've seen before. I don't want amazon showing product suggestions like something I just bought. I don't need other people's thoughts filtered down to only those I previously agreed with.

Every single one of those "advancements" leads to stagnation. I'm not a better person because I have 50 people around me telling me what I already "know". I'm a better person because I have a large group around me that challenges my thoughts, ideas and beliefs. If there's a day that goes by in which I'm not wrong on something, then I was probably unconscious.

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If you are a very social person

I am sure the host of a party will always remain at the top of all suggestions when searching on local parties and they will get first pickings to have their own comments to stay at the top.

It will be the person who does not have the connections who will be exiled out as a non human entity and that they do not matter to anyone except to their own mommy.

This will form a new eliteism on facebook. Oh I'm so sorry you can not comment here because you are NOTHING!

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Re: @David W

"Er, you agree with your friends on everything? How boring."

Did I say that? No, I didn't.

I don't agree with my friends on 'everything' - for instance, my best friend is quite the Linux evangelist, whereas I have never gotten along particularly well with either the OS category or, broadly, its more enthusiastic adherents. But we're good buds, so he can handle it when I say, "It's the year of Linux on the desktop!" when basic drivers don't work for some device, and I can handle it when he says, "Another quality product from Microsoft!" whenever pretty much anything of any sort breaks or fails in any manner.

But neither of us are racist, and we both like trance music (he does because I introduced him to it) and because we hang out we obviously have a degree of shared experience.

So, yeah, I tend to agree with him more than I might with Joe Random American. But that's kinda what friendship *is*; I'm not going to be best buds with an anti-Semite who thinks that producers of electronic music are all druggies. But that doesn't necessarily make me boring.

Obviously the limitations are not absolutely efficient - for instance, I used to be absolutely paranoid regarding OOP. I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole; I derided it as a festering sore on the bulging buttocks of programming. Or thereabouts. But when I was put in a position where the potential for cool free stuff forced me to re-evaluate my basic morals, he managed to do the impossible and somehow explain the whole mess to me so I *got it*.

So my horizons were broadened in that respect, but there's only so far you'll go that way. "People who liked this also liked..." obviously isn't *completely* limiting, but over the long term I think it could have a pretty serious chilling effect.

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Boffin

Yep!

Lets say John and Jane Doe had a baby and the couple were made famous because they both had aids and they both transmitted he aids virus to the baby and now they get bad replies because they created a life failed to be doomed.

Who would be more valid? The people who just give hugs and kisses or the people who give replies such as "WE TOLD YOU SO!"

On an open forum neither should be up or down voted but remain neutral but if this page belonged to the family then they can up vote or down vote or even removed the abusive comments as they see fit.

In regarding to the generalities then this would mean that only famous people have their voice heard while the average joe may as well go play KICK THE CAN outside and turn his/her pc off.

The commenting system does though need to be improved but people do not like to see the real side of life so they like to filter the comments like their filter their coffee as they try to live in a fake world to keep out the truth and other political views that may harm their holodeck based mental fantasies that their right is the only right and nothing else matters.

Such is the case where posting political viewpoints and where the facebook keyboard army admins will delete anything ANTI-Israel and will delete anything that is remotely sane and humane such as treating people from all faiths with dignity and respect... Such as was in my case where one woman was so happy to see a bomb on the head of prophet muhammad and making points about towels on the heads of these people and making jokes about them.

So to point out her low IQ to her I flipped it and I replied: Let me make some art with a jar of urine and let me put the picture of your child and husband and picture of your god in that jar and let me call it art so that you can not banish me because it is now free speech.

No! Do not get angry lady! You wanted free speech against these towel heads so now you get the same medicine you gave to the muslims!

Oh!!! boy oh boy her hate must have sent her blood pressure through the roof and I made my point that she refused to treat each human being as an equal to find peace and humanity with all people of the earth and well you can guess she did not want that kind of equality and she complained and got my facebook account banned because I treated her just as harsh as she treated people NOT LIKE HER. But I am sure the neocons would have loved her.

No I am not a liberal or conservative. I am a centrist. Before you ask for yourself certain freedoms please make sure you allow it for others as well.

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FAIL

Isn't this what the reg implemented awhile ago? Seems a bit hypocritical to have a go a Facebook for something you're doing already.

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Facepalm

Um... no

The most upvoted comments kinda appear in the main article bit, but clicking on "read all comments" will still show all comments in chrono order, up/downvotes nonwithstanding.

FB doesn't have "dislike" so there's no real "balance" on stuff, and the page owner überupvote is something not even El Reg does.

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WTF?

Ah Farcebook - you just gotta love em.

NOT

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Anonymous Coward

Life on the outside

100% FaceBook free here!

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WTF?

One more slap for the consumer

Sometimes the ONLY way to get to a company is to go and post on their Facebook pages (including all their images etc)

Papa Johns for example, their failed online payments system took the credit card details and the cash, but never passed the order to the restaurant. No chance of ever getting through to someone in their customer services, so I was forced to bring the issue of non-return of fund to their facebook. Which got a result.

Exactly the same thing with BT, terrible customer service meant the only way I could get them to take notice was to make it public.

All these companies want the benefits of SOCILZ MEDIA LOLZ but don't want to accept the other side of "being in communication with your customers" is to actually listen to them and provide some form of, if not customer service, then just be polite and talk to them when needed.

I really hope this shoots facebook in the head and people begin to wise up to how companies treat them like idiots.

Final word on this, only 10k followers? You can buy that for 20 quid.......

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Alien

This is the beginning of the end of Facebook. This is a decisive moment. Now when it goes by the way of MySpace you will know why.

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Impossible to follow conversations in comments anyway

I've seen plenty that have no obvious order to how they're displayed at all... it's not possible to easily find replies to your comments in posts that have attracted quite a few comments on them... basically FB is NOT fit for purpose...

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Terminator

If you have a "page", it implies that your pushing something, even if it's your own lack of talent. I know a good few people with small niche businesses (promoters, film makers, designers, togs, MUAs, djs, lighting techs etc) who've been trolled on their pages by weird vindictive sockpuppets, who seem to be acting in the interests of competing small businesses. I've chased a few away by trollbaiting them to the point that they breach fb's abuse threshold and feel the banhammer. As a grownup, I think it's better to unwrap them and see what's driving their spleen. Some well directed ridicule of their hackneyed technique poops their party every time, and deters them from returning with a fresh alias..

Heavy handed moderation unbalances a site, and seeing as how facebook mods seem to have eased off on the kneejerk timeouts, it seems only fair to keep the monkey dancing till it's all worn out..

Younger folk can find relentless fuckwittery a bit demoralising , especially when they're self employed designers and the like. They're under enough stress creating stuff to sell in order to eat and pay rent, without having to deal with deluded cockwranglers, and failed Model Mayhem wannabes with chips on both shoulders..

Most of the aforementioned designers have built their pages into the thousands by word of mouth, and zero spamming, so I don't mind playing Tex Avery troll bingo on their behalf. With lemmings and miniguns. If you don't take trolls seriously, they have no power to shock or intimidate, which denies them the psychotic validation they crave.

On the other hand, monolithic entities who exist only to spam their glorious corporate charisma into socmedia from every angle, probably deserve an occasional shitstorm, as demonstrated by the kerfuffle over the "Keep Calm and Rape" T-shirts, which Amazon "didn't know" were being flogged through its UK site. A gentle reminder for them that talking ain't walking. And not for the first time.

No doubt the usual suspects will turn up here, and trot out their standard "I don't use it , so i hate it" shpiel, but for people who have extended social and commercial circles, it's a useful medium. And no matter how often FB tries to churn it in favour of advertisers, there'll always be large groups of clued-up users running adblock and purity on it (with apps turned off globally) to keep the noise to a minimum.

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