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Facebook banned developer who made an app limiting news feed


A developer who created a browser extension that helps Facebook users spend less time on the site claims he has now been banned from the social media platform — but he’s “grateful” to the company for helping him reduce his own usage.

UK-based developer Louis Barclay launched the extension “Unfollow Everything” on the Google Chrome store in July 2020.

The tool eliminates a user’s news feed by automatically unfollowing everyone on their Facebook account — helping obsessive scrollers cut down on screentime while still allowing them to connect with friends and family.

However, Barclay’s revealed in an op-ed published on Slate Thursday that his Facebook account was disabled in July this year and he received a cease-and-desist letter from the law firm Perkins Coie.

The notice claimed that Unfollow Everything broke Facebook’s rules on automated collection of user content without the company’s permission and infringed on its trademarks, according to a redacted version of the notice Barclay posted online.

It also encouraged others to break Facebook’s rules, the letter said.

The app developer told Business Insider Monday the legal threat from the social media giant left him feeling “anxious.”

“I was really scared, and I was very anxious,” Barclay said, adding that it felt “very unfair” to be kicked off Facebook.

profile of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg seen displayed on a smartphone.
Louis Barclay received a cease-and-desist letter claiming that Unfollow Everything broke Facebook’s rules.
Cris Faga/Shutterstock

He insisted his extension was made to help people — not take down Facebook.

“I just very much saw it as something that improves the Facebook experience for Facebook users,” he told Insider, saying people who downloaded the tool told him they “were using Facebook in a way that was much healthier for them.”

Now, the developer said he is enjoying a silver lining to getting booted off the platforms.

“I’ve been trying to reduce my usage of Facebook for years now, including by making tools like Unfollow Everything. So I’m actually pretty grateful to Facebook that they’ve helped me take my addiction levels down to a flat zero,” Barclay told Insider.

Louis Barclay, a UK-based developer, published the browser extension “Unfollow Everything,”
Louis Barclay launched the extension “Unfollow Everything” on Google Chrome in July 2020.
Twitter

At the time Barclay received the cease-and-desist letter in July, Unfollow Everything had 2,500 weekly active users and 10,000 downloads, he said.

Representatives for Facebook did not return The Post’s request for comment.

The clash with Barclay comes after Facebook was dragged through the public wringer last week, when whistleblower Frances Haugen testified in front of a key Senate subcommittee, sounding the alarm about everything from Instagram’s effect on teen girls to the national security threats posed by Facebook. 



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