Facebook Kills Social Roulette, The App With A 1/6 Chance Of Deleting Your Facebook Account

Posted: May 15, 2013 in Facebook, GT, Social
Tags: ,

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If you want a digital detox, you’re going to have to pull
the trigger yourself. Social Roulette is an app that
would delete one in six users’ Facebook account
data, but its founder confirms it’s been blocked by
Facebook so it no longer functions. While there’s no
specific policy prohibiting apps from deleting your data, Social Roulette is clearly counter to Facebook’s
mission and business model. Social Roulette launched on Saturday as an online
version of Russian Roulette, the lethal real-life game
where a player places one bullet in a six-chamber
revolver pistol, spins the cylinder, and fires the gun at
their head. You die, you lose. But on Social Roulette,
it’s implied that having your Facebook account deleted means you won. If you’re hit that one in six
chance, the site explains “we can completely remove
all your posts, friends, apps, likes, photos, and
games before completely deactivating it.” Otherwise,
it just posts to Facebook saying you survived the
game, and encouraging your friends to risk their digital lives. Social Roulette describes itself, saying “Everyone
thinks about deleting their account at some point, it’s
a completely normal reaction to the overwhelming
nature of digital culture. Is it time to consider a new
development in your life? Are you looking for the
opportunity to start fresh? Or are you just seeking cheap thrills at the expense of your social network?
Maybe it’s time for you to play Social Roulette.” Co-
founder Kyle McDonald tells me he came up with the
idea a few weeks ago, but hacked it together in just
four hours with Jonas Lund and Jonas Jongeja after
Lund had an idea for how it could actually work. The app capitalizes on exhaustion with social
networks. The dizzying stream of information,
constant success theater, and perceived
“responsibility” to be contactable can grow tiresome
after a while. When I asked co-founder McDonald
about the philosophy behind Social Roulette, he told me”Everyone talks about deleting their Facebook
account, but we rarely take action. Sometimes we
need a simple game to help take the responsibility off
our shoulders, and provide a moment for
reflection. Social Roulette is more of a provocation
rather than a tool.” Social Roulette seemed to be looking for a fight,
considering it’s selling t-shirts of its logo, which rips
off Facebook’s and sticks it inside a chamber of a
six-shooter pistol. Facebook
has aggressively pursued others who’ve tried to coin
off of its trademarks. Facebook has also recently shut off API access to apps it perceives as
competitors like Vine, as well as ones like Voxer that
don’t share much back to it. Facebook has also
blocked apps without specifying a reason but that
have been accused of spamming like Path. Now McDonald tells me, “It took us 4 hours to create
the project, and it took another 4 hours after the
launch for Facebook to respond by blocking the API
key and restricting our ability to create Facebook
applications. The app was flagged by an automated
system for ‘creating a negative user experience.’ After review, they decided they don’t like our
logo either. We tried to follow the branding
guidelines but we must have misunderstood them.”
You could say the shut down was a bit murky as
there’s not a specific platform policy that the app’s
data deletion function violates, but Facebook typically enforces the spirit, not the letter, of the law. It might
end up adding a specific provision banning apps that
focus on deleting your data. Facebook tells me in an official statement, “We take
action against apps that violate our platform policies
as laid out here: https://developers.facebook.com/
policy/, in order to maintain a trustworthy experience
for users.” It didn’t specify which policy, though.
However, the app did allow users to circumvent Facebook’s account deactivation feature, which is
designed to let people turn off their account but turn it
back on later without losing their content and
connections. This could be considered a violation of
Facebook Platform Policy I.3 that states “You must
not circumvent (or claim to circumvent) our intended limitations on core Facebook features and
functionality.” This brings up the larger issue of where Facebook
draws the line when determining when something is
too close to its native functionality. Some developers
believe the Facebook Platform is unstable because of
Facebook’s power to pick and choose who can do
what. Without API access, Social Roulette can’t let people
login with their Facebook account, or delete content
from their profile. Surprisingly, McDonald is optimistic
that Social Roulette will win Facebook’s approval and
live on to kill another account. “We’re currently
working to address this and other issues and expect a return to normal service some time this week.” I wouldn’t hold my breath, though. Facebook’s goal to
connect the world and earn money through advertising
based on their personal data is directly threatened by
Social Roulette. Facebook purposefully makes
deleting your account tough so you don’t do it in a
momentary fit of anger. Even if it receives jeers for shutting down apps at will, it’s not going to put that
gun in any third-party developer’s hands.

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