- Posted January 13, 2012 by
Penn Yan, New York
Sergey Smirnov responds, Facebook remains silent on FGS
In an exclusive interview, Sergey Smirnov, 2BSOCIAL, LLC, a game developer whose games are Puzzled Hearts, Charmed Gems and Puzzled Dogs, claims to be innocent of personally going after the populars browser extension, FGS-Friendly Gaming Simplifier.
Friendly Gaming Simplifier was created, and distributed freely, by Arkadiusz 'flies' Rzadkowolski, as a hobby. He charged no fee for the use of his browser extension. After it's creation, it became very popular among different groups of people who would not be able to play many of the click-intensive online games without it, either by reason of disability, or because they had a life or jobs outside of Facebook. Many gamers presented him with a variety of requests in this regard, and out of the goodness of his heart, he assisted them where he could.
In this day and age of computerization speeding things up, many of these online games take things a giant leap backward, requiring a plethora of clicks to accomplish the simplest of tasks, where one click should be sufficient. In order to be competitive, or to even reasonably participate, users would be, without the FGS extension, required to remain glued to their screen almost 24 hours, 7 days a week, by these game parameters.
Sergey had the following to say in the matter:
I've written two articles regarding yourself and the FGS browser extension.
Can I get a comment from you?
Robert Kriegar, CNN iReporter
What kind of comments do you expect? About banning ilegal software by facebook or about my being attacked by one person who hates me a lot?
Thank you very much for responding. I'm interested in getting your side of this.What person is attacking you, that hates you ? It is being said that you, personally, made it a point to go after this particular browser extension.
Is that true?
If so, why?
There are many other programs out there that do what this one does, and more-yet they haven't been focused on.
Many players with disabilities, and players who work, feel that they will no longer participate equally due to this happening-how do you feel about that?
> What person is attacking you, that hates you ?
You can figure out it looking at the http://www.facebook.com/groups/RealGamePlayers/ group?
>It is being said that you, personally, made it a point to go after this particular browser extension.
Is that true?
If so, why?
People who believe that I, or any other developers, even Zynga, are able to force Facebook to do, or stop doing, anything are very naive, or have no idea about the Facebook infrastructure.
My personal point and point of Facebook are completely different.
FGS made the Puzzled Hearts game extremely unbalanced. So, I blocked it more than a month ago.
It is not my business to comment how Facebook forces their rules. However, I understand the reasons why FGS has been banned. Everybody who develop for Facebook must follow the Facebook Platform Policies ( http://developers.facebook.com/policy/ ). Facebook is very strict about the policy violation. It does not matter how helpful the app is. It does not matter how many users use and/or like it. It does not matter that the app is developed by one person, or a big company. Policy violation, even a light one, is a reason to be closed or suspended.
FGS violates of lot of the policy issue. What is worse - the security issues. I looked at it closely when one person (who is a major hater now) asked me to look at why FGS stopped working. My first impression - it was a huge security hole in the browser.
Again, it is not my business if someone’s app violate the Facebook Platform Policies. My business is to keep my games alive and healthy. So, the blocking is still active regardless what is up with FGS.
>Many players with disabilities, and players who work, feel that they will no longer participate equally due to this happening-how do you feel about that?
I play the Puzzled Hearts game myself. I have at least two women in my friend list who are disabled. One woman with two stokes in the past. Both of those women are much higher than me in the achievement table.
Robert, It is impossible to understand the reason for the ban if you are looking at the problem from the angle of helpful or not helpful. It is not about this at all, but the platform policy violation.
Let's say: One lady did not want to go outside. She asked one guy to bring her jewelry from the bank. He came to the bank repository somehow, opened her private cell without using the key, took her jewelry and brought them to her house directly.
From the lady’s point of view, he was the best guy even. However, how about the bank?
I do not think that Facebook might step back. The issue looks very serious for me. However, the niche for such class of apps exists. So, the new similar apps, but without policy violation will appear. Facebook will allow them. Game developers will block them for some games if the game balance is broken.
Sergey, I certainly thank you for your response, it is very informative to me. It is my understanding that the developer of FGS was working with game developers, and only had his extension doing what they would agree with.
I hope you can bear with me, as I go a little further?
Contrary to what you suggest, an accuser has claimed that you personally went to Facebook offices to lodge a protest-can you verify if this is true?
Another has said you are a developer for Zynga?
I'm reading that you are a user of the FGS browser extension?
I have difficulty in understanding, however, that what seem like bigger programs that seek to do the same thing, but more, are allowed to continue?
>>>.....It is my understanding that the developer of FGS was working with game developers.....
I do not know anything about other game developers. As I said previously, I realized that FGS was illegal from the first glance . I believe that for me, as a US citizen, having any deal (cooperation) with such software is not appropriate (not safe). So, I avoided any contact with FGS developer about FGS.
At the beginning, Virginia Moody asked me somethings like "What if FGS would click the ads on your pages of the players behalf?". Just after I realized that those (illegal, BTW) offers came from FGS developers, I ended contact with her as well (so, her personal war began at that time).
....an accuser has claimed that you personally went to Facebook offices to lodge a protest....
If you ask any developers of Facebook applications how easy to communicate with Facebook staff, everybody say that it is impossible at all, actually. No contact emails or phone. If your application is closed or suspended, you can only fill the form and robot replays that you have to follow the platform policy rules to avoid suspending in the future. I guess, it is because of pre-IPO time. Contact Facebook employees with external people might be a legal issue.
So, it is ridiculous to read that I “went to the Facebook office early in December with the sole purpose of shutting down fgs”. It is just impossible for any developer to go to the Facebook office, hammer on Mark Zuckerberg’s door and say, hey buddy, stop the ship!
At the beginning of December, it was an one-day training about new features of the Facebook API and to use those features in the game development - http://www.facebook.com/groups/293037437408074/ . It was a very useful event. The spots are reserved one month before it. I have an opportunity to participate.
The couple days before the event, I argued with Virginia about the legal issue. I said, it was illegal to use it. She insisted, it was good and people should have a choice what to use. At the end, I said “I am going to the Facebook HQ, so will ask them directly whether it is legal or not”. I suggest my english is not so perfect. May be this phrase mean that is a “sole” purpose? I guess this was a source for the rumor in the future.
Frankly speaking, I did not ask any questions that evening at all (I am very shy about the quality of my spoken English ). However, from the event discussions I understand two things: 1. It is Facebooks' and only Facebooks' business to enforce policy violations. 2. Developers should deal with local problem on their own.
Quote about “sole purpose” is from the Joyce Downing comment. I do not know her in person. I have never even spoken with her about fgs. She did not visit the Facebook developer’s training, of couse. I guess, Joyce got the ideas from the Virginia. However, I did not speak with Virginia about the result of the event either. I do not know Virginia in the real life.
Facebook Games Hack 12/8 (http://www.facebook.com/groups/293037437408074/)
Public discussion group for thoughts & communications about the games hack throughout the day.
>Another has said you are a developer for Zynga or some such thing?
It was a funny comment. The answer is No. I have never ever worked for Zynga. Even did not have an idea to do so.
>I'm reading that you are a user of the FGS browser extension?
First time I installed FGS was when Virginia asked me to check why it did not work. I did disable it immediately after realizing possible security problems. Then I enabled it couple times for a short period of time to test how my blocking works.
So, in general, the answer is No. I have never used it for it’s primary purpose.
I have difficulty in understanding, however, that what seem like bigger programs that seek to do the same thing......
There are two points here.
First: if the app, even the biggest one, violate the policy, it is a matter of time when it happens. I remember the 10,000,000-user app that disappeared in one single moment. I did not return back.
Second: most important. FGS is not a Facebook application at all. It did not register and lives on Facebook. Facebook has no control over it. It is impossible to shut down it technically. I guess, it was the reason why Facebook sent those so threatening legal notes.
So, the legal issue is not with “bonus collector” in general. It is possible to write the one (may be with less features) that is OK with the platform policy. The key point is how app get an access to the wall posts and how it performs the features.
When you install a new Facebook application, Facebook shows you dialog where you can grant some permissions to these applications.
Access my basic information
Access my profile information
Access information people share with me
Post to Facebook as me
Applications cannot do something, like posting to your Facebook wall if the "Post to Facebook as me" is not granted. Facebook has a security level, that protect against it.
FGS never showed this dialog to users?
(RK-note: In my experience with FGS, I have never known it to "Post to a users wall")
This is exactly the way how FGS passed the security levels. It scrapes the facebook page instead of using the public API (which requires to ask for permission)
If you scroll the Facebook page down and click the “terms” link ( http://www.facebook.com/legal/terms ) , you can read at the point #2 of the section #3: “You will not collect users' content or information, or otherwise access Facebook, using automated means (such as harvesting bots, robots, spiders, or scrapers) without our permission.”.
Did you guess already what is the title of the section #3
from my side, I promise I will never again ever argue with old ladies. They strike back hard :-|
Sergey asked that I not quote him 'directly' (word for word), as he is shy about his command of the English language. I have, therefore, edited his quotes in line with that request.
Perhaps, if these are, in fact, the concerns of Facebook, FGS developer, Arkadiusz 'flies' Rzadkowolski can edit his browser extension to bring it in line with Facebook requirements? We'll likely never know, as Facebook has yet to respond to my request for comment.
Virginia Moody Replies:
From the creator of FGS
Petition to save FGS: