back to article Facebook's anti-trademark bot torpedoes .org website that just so happened to criticize Zuck's sucky ethics board

The website of the Real Facebook Oversight Board (RFOB), a critical advocacy group set up as a riposte to the social network's inaction on that front, has been taken down because its hosting company believes it's a phishing operation. It was not immediately clear how that determination was made, but a Facebook spokesperson …

  1. Anonymous Coward


    A cancer deep within our society.


  2. YetAnotherJoeBlow Bronze badge

    An idea

    People need to start taking these companies to small claims court - no lawyers allowed. Sue them for just under $10 000. Get paid and nickle and dime them to death. A constant stream of these cases might focus some much needed attention on the situation. Even a lion notices a thorn in its foot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An idea

      You've not really thought ths through, have you? Facebook raked in $70B last year. That's 7M lawsuits at $10K a pop.

  3. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

    And the difference

    Between an oppressive regime that silences those who speak against them is?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And the difference

      But enough of the Guardian's censorious "Comment is Free" moderators.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: And the difference

        I can only assume Facebook Groups are more your thing, right?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And the difference

          No. Twitter.

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    C'mon Zuck!

    You've taken the first step here, now ask for the protection money! You know, like Fat Tony would say, "That's a nice website you have there, would be a shame if something should happen to it! We can make this all go away...

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: C'mon Zuck!

      It looks as though Zuck wants the site to 'Sleep with the phishers'.

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    All hail Emperor Zuck the First

    I bet he sings 'I rule the world' (note the missing 'when') in the shower every day.

    We just need to make sure that there is a revolution that deposes him ASAP

    The question is... will his criticism censorship 'bot' force the take down my El Reg account?

    If that happens then he really does rule the world.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Free Speech *

    * = Terms & Conditions apply, including pay-to-play Advertising Fees.

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Judging from response by the Facebook PR guy...

    ... they're all dysfunctional and it'll never change.

    Insert quote about nuking from orbit (see icon).

  8. nickmorgan

    No evidence of phishing

    Go to the prntscr site listed in the twitter, it just highlights a redirect. Phishing is when you are asked for information. How is a simple redirect phishing??

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: No evidence of phishing

      Sadly there is no requirement to prove anything you say when you run a takedown scam. If I remember rightly, the documentation for this process is much the same as sworn evidence so if their statements are false then this would be at contempt of court or similar which is a criminal offence.

      Any lawyers out there want to make a name for themselves?

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: No evidence of phishing

        "The documentation for this process is much the same as sworn evidence"

        The problem is that the "Sworn evidence" consists of the "chewbacca ploy" and doesn't actually contain assertions regarding ownership or actual phishing

  9. mark l 2 Silver badge

    If all the work is done by bots, I am waiting for the day when the bots send a takedown notice to a legitimate Facebook domain name because no-one reviewed the takedowns before they were fired off to the registrars.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Would be funny, I’m going to guess they are their own registrar though. No whois access to check right now.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Domain Name: FACEBOOK.COM

        Registrar: RegistrarSafe, LLC

        Registrar IANA ID: 3237

        Registrar Abuse Contact Email:

        Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1-650-308-7004

        Not one I'd ever heard of, so I decided to just visit them:

        Mailing address: RegistrarSEC, LLC / RegistrarSafe, LLC

        1601 Willow Road

        Menlo Park, CA 94025

        Phone: +1 650 308 7004

        Fax: +1 650 472 9224

        Primary Contact: Denise Michel

        Officers: David Kling – CEO, President and Secretary; Susan Taylor – Vice President and Treasurer; Michael Johnson – Assistant Secretary

        Member: Facebook, Inc.

        You can't even buy domains through this registrar. Why they felt the need to create a subsidiary to do this is beyond me.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          tax or regulatory reasons are the most common. Or obfuscation.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      " I am waiting for the day when the bots send a takedown notice to a legitimate Facebook domain name"

      They already did that to a legitimate NASA feed on Youtube claiming ownership of the data because it was being restreamed on a commercial TV network.

  10. Norman Nescio


    It wasn't particularly sensible to use the name 'The Real Facebook Oversight Board'. While I can sympathise with the intent, it is rather difficult to defend yourself against an assertion of 'passing off'.

    On the other hand we could do with a convention that allowed people to use trademarked names for commentary and criticism and made it explicit to readers (both human and automated) that it is not phishing/fraudulently misrepresenting themselves as the organisation being commented on. E.g prefix the name with the character !, or ¬ (U+00AC NOT SIGN = angled dash in typography). Unfortunately, the rules about which characters are acceptable in domain names precludes this, and even resorting to Internationalized Domain Names and punycode doesn't resolve it. We might have to extend the hegemony of the English language and simply say that prefixing trademarks with 'not-' provides sufficient warning that it is not a phishing site.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It wasn't particularly sensible to use the name 'The Real Facebook Oversight Board'.

      I dunno. I mean, I've actually *heard* of them now :-)

      1. HildyJ Silver badge

        Re: It wasn't particularly sensible to use the name 'The Real Facebook Oversight Board'.

        The Barbra Streisand effect.

        Besides, there is already a legal recourse - the doctrine of Fair Use. Somebody needs to take FecesBook to court to allow commentary domains to use the trademark they are commenting on (the EFF, maybe?).

    2. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Convention

      If they'd registered instead, we'd have all known who they meant!

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Convention


        Didn't Face Book start by illegally collecting university student's face photographs so that FB users could vote on their attractiveness... "violating privacy" says Wikipedia.

        So I don't want to go anywhere near an "Arse Book" (while anybody's watching).

        I actually incline to objecting to the word "Real", implying "The one and only actual oversight board". They may believe that too, but it's an opinion, and there is - or may one day be - an actual Facebook Board of Oversights run by the company.

        If they said "Independent" in place of "Real", I'd approve. The Facebook Facebook Overboard Site clearly can't ever be independent, and probably isn't meant to be.

        If the word "Facebook" actually is the cause, it can be argued as fair use, but as I said, "real" and "Facebook" is poor construction if you're not the real Facebook.

        I suggest for their use Foocebake if that isn't already taken. But it appears that some of the 7.8 billion potential Internet users have indeed found uses for it. References to non-alcoholic intoxication abound.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Convention

      Sort of like Independent SAGE? I don't really think people are that confused by it.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Convention - a United airlines criticism site - got taken down on passing off grounds

    5. AdamWill

      Re: Convention

      "It wasn't particularly sensible to use the name 'The Real Facebook Oversight Board'. While I can sympathise with the intent, it is rather difficult to defend yourself against an assertion of 'passing off'."

      AIUI, this kind of parodic / protest use is already *specifically* allowed and protected under the relevant laws.

    6. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Convention

      The trouble with that argument is that the logical conclusion is you can't actually name the company you're complaining about without their permission....

  11. MOH

    For most of the article, it sounded like another example of a bot overstepping its mark.

    Right up to the the breathtaking arrogance of the Facebook tweet in response. From a communications manager?

    I seriously hope he's just torpedoed his future career anywhere - that's the level of playground smugness and thinking you're clever that's become the norm for certain politicians. But for a supposedly professional business it's just puerile.

    Facebook really is a cancer on society. How soon did they say they're pulling out of Europe?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. I seriously hope he's just torpedoed his future career anywhere

      it just depends on what angle his superiors take. As long as the facebook fight it till their death, he's allright :(

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Right up to the the breathtaking arrogance of the Facebook tweet in response. From a communications manager?"

      Wouldn't be the first time that advertising departments have been the ones initiating lawsuits

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    The solution to this issue is simple

    Instead of using a host that is susceptible to blocking, parking or outright shutting down their site, they should just host it themselves.

    That way, they might receive a takedown notice, but they can ignore it until some human comes and starts shrieking at them that they've gotten dozens of takedown notices and they'll be sued if they don't take it down, at which point they can answer : "See you in court". At that point, somebody with a brain is going to have to start analyzing the actual website to build his case for the judge, at which point he's going to have to realize that they don't have a case.

    And that's when they go away quietly, while the site stays up.

    Of course, to host a site oneself, one must pay a bit of money and do a bit more work than just designing some web pages, but hey, if you're intent on getting the word out, then it should be worth it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The solution to this issue is simple

      Then they issue the take down to the organisation providing the connections to that host. Not as simple as you make out. Ethically I wouldn’t put it beyond Facebook to be willing to ddos it either.

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: The solution to this issue is simple

        If you own a domain you can now transfer to Cloudflare

        They don't do frivolous takedowns. Court order or nothing. Plus you can use their always online option if they go after your hosting provider.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is this bad?

    This is only one step away from or genuine-halifax-online-banking-biz

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      It's bad because Facebook doesn't control the string "facebook". It's worse because I think we all know the bot excuse is just to deflect blame. No actual business has to put "thereal" in their domain to prove who they are; it's clearly to express that the Facebook-named board isn't, in the opinion of the people with the site, doing any oversight.

      The name of your site is not the problem. What you do on that site is the problem. If you run a phishing site for Halifax online banking, it doesn't matter if you call it genuine-halifax-online-banking-biz or; what you are doing with it is illegal, so your site will be taken down for that reason. Trademark complaints are different, but that would only be relevant if the people running the site tried to create an otherwise legal enterprise under false pretenses. Not only did they not do that, but Facebook doesn't even allege that they did.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MarkMonitor operate like the mafia without regard for fair use with the assumption that you're not going to file a suit against them because of the extreme costs of doing so. Outsourced IT enforcers like them are just a bunch of online thugs.

  15. sinsi

    What are the chances?

    Exactly a million to one

  16. steviebuk Silver badge

    Always nice when... have enough of a following to get the register to do an article about it and to be able to create a social medium storm on Twitter to make people aware.

    My YouTube channel is tiny, not even 1k subs but a shady parking fines company here in the UK flagged a year old video of mine for a copyright strike. It got instantly pulled and I've been trying to argue with YouTube, with several counter claims that all the work in the video is my own. That you can't possibly claim a copyright strike over a video of someone browsing your website and pointing out all the security issues with it. This has fallen on deaf ears with their bots saying over and over I haven't given enough info. But not telling me what more they need.

    Its clearly an abuse of the parking company where they know its an arse trying to fight YouTube to get a video back. Thankfully we have lbry who ignore bullshit claims such as this so the video is still available there.

    I asked The Register if they'd like to do a story on this. The abuse of the YouTube copyright strike system and a parking company abusing it. I've had no reply and its been several weeks now since I asked.

    I'll be doing my own article and putting it on my website soon. I gave up the YouTube fight. I make no money from my videos and reluctantly followed the copyright school section so the strike expires in December. That way the parking company don't get my real address, which I'm most certain they wanted so they can either abuse it or send goons round. But, as I'm small fry, doubt it will be noticed on my site.

    The company is clearly somewhat shady. In their privacy statement now, where they made no mention of GDPR originally (which was one of the issues including the security issues) they now have a statement claiming that policy was updated in April last year. Which is before my video was uploaded about all their security issues. This is clearly an attempt to fool any investigation by the ICO. Unfortunately for them the wayback machine captured the same page in May of last year and that same statement is missing :)

    1. paulf

      Re: Always nice when...

      "That way the parking company don't get my real address..."

      Wait! Wut? I don't know how YouTube works, other than as a generic person without a Google account that watches the occasional cat video; but do they really demand your own personal home address when you set up an account/channel/upload videos?

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Always nice when...

        No. When someone files a copyright strike against a video they are claiming the work as their own and the video gets instantly removed. This becomes a legal matter. So you can ignore it and get on with life or if you want to fight it, you have to do a counter claim that could end up in a US court (if you're based there) because of this, you're then required to give your real name and real full address. So if the other party that claimed the strike decides "I'll take your counter claim to court then to prove the video rights are mine" they have an address and name to send the legal papers too. However, you can avoid giving your name if you decided to spend lots of money on a lawyer and get them to do the counter claim for you. Then their name and company address gets given out.

        But for small channels like me. The strike system can be abused such as this parking company have done. Either just to be an arse believing you won't fight it or hoping you counter claim (which they can ignore for 10 days at which point they loose their right to fight and you get your video back) but they now have your personal address which they can/could use to abuse you or send goons round. People do fight these as get 2 strikes and your channel is limited. Get 3 and it gets deleted. The system is broken.

        1. paulf

          Re: Always nice when...

          "People do fight these as get 2 strikes and your channel is limited. Get 3 and it gets deleted."

          Ah, I see. Yes, that system is completely broken, as it clearly works against anyone who isn't permanently lawyered up. It also works against genuine claims against someone who is permanently lawyered up. If you're not packing solid lawyer you can get snuffed out if someone just files a copyright claim and you don't have the means to fight it (and are understandably reluctant to have your personal details passed to the other party). Shesh - that's bad.

  17. Robert Grant Silver badge

    It does feel a bit silly to call yourself the real <something that already exists>.

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