Free the Blackadder One!

Freeee…eee De..rek BlackadderLet Derek back in, and make Facebook safe for unions again!

Okay, having just had a go at defending Facebook from Eric Lee, I’m about to make a sharp Uey and have a go at them myself for something of a slight to trade unions and unionists.

Most people with an interest in the internet and the international trade union movement (yes, all five of us…) will have noticed the name Derek Blackadder more than once. Derek is a CUPE (Canada’s public services union) organiser and one of the leading lights of LabourStart (as well as an all-round stand-up guy). He’s used to running campaigns on behalf of workers the world over, so I think it’s high time we started one in support of him.

Being a forward-thinking chap, Derek has been investigating the use of social networking for union organising and campaigns for some time, and barely a week goes by without my Facebook inbox getting a request from him to sign up to one very worthy labour cause or another. Not for the last couple of weeks though.

Derek got a note from the good book, telling him he was trying to add too many friends, and should calm down a bit, or else. Now as a union organiser, he’s quite likely to want to add lots of friends – it’s kind of what he does. So he waits a bit and tries again, and is told he can’t add any more at the moment and to wait and try later. Fair enough. He waits a bit more and tries again, same message. By now, he’s probably frothing at the mouth and muttering “must organise, must organise”, so he has another go to see if the coast is clear, and promptly gets himself a ban.

That being a ban from Facebook itself – no more profile, no access to the stuff he’s built up, no appeal.

Okay, he was probably being a little over-eager, but Facebook is definitely the poorer for not having him, and this is a bit of a stumbling block for unions wanting to use the tools to organise. Add to this the SEIU Canadian profile that got closed down (admittedly they too had been stretching the terms of use), the 1,000 group mailing cap and you’re left wondering if your time investment in it is all about to go up in smoke – it seems the better you do, the riskier your position.

So let’s try to get Derek back in. Come join (what else…) the Blackadder solidarity Facebook group. A very slim chance I grant you, but worth a pop to lobby Facebook on this one. Any ideas you’ve got for making this work – let us know!

If we do manage to get him reinstated, it’ll make Facebook a much safer place for all unions and activists to network (it‘s hardly going to inspire you to put in the effort if you only get kicked out for it). Just don’t ask Derek to add you as a friend though, or they’ll boot him out again ;)

UPDATE: 24/01/08
UPDATE: 20/02/08

23 Responses to “Free the Blackadder One!”

  1. Derek Blackadder Says:

    Many thanks John. Much fun.

    Though I must say that if the campaign succeeds I shall lose a good solid hour out of my day as I once again spend it checking the Book. :-)

    FB organizing to make FB organizing possible…mmm…

  2. johninnit » Blog Archive » You only live twice Says:

    [...] and radically different (if rather smaller) social networking service. Plus they haven’t kicked Derek Blackadder out yet, so it must be [...]

  3. Sylvie Joly Says:

    Solidarity, Derek, from the Quebec part !
    But I’m still a facebook «noodle». I didn’t join yet. But, for sure, when I’ll make it, unfortunately I won’t be Derek’s friend !
    Sylvie, Confederation des syndicats nationaux

  4. Duncan Money Says:

    That’s funny, I’m a bit obsessed with Facebook and I’ve never heard of anyone getting the boot for adding too many friends.

    Companies or MPs who set up profiles never seem to have this problem.

  5. Hilde Says:

    I enjoy Facebook, and I would rather have messages from Blackadder than “funny” videos of animals doing strange things, or You-tube clips..

  6. Seymour Goode Says:

    Kind of ironic that 2facedbook is banning a trade unionist but at the same time allowing fascists to thrive there. I say let him back on and shut down the fascists instead!

  7. Susan Stout Says:

    Retired from a unionised job, so don’t need to be organised! And don’t intend to join Facebook. But sure figure Derek should have as much access as anyone. I’ll stick to Labourstart.

  8. Jim Sadlemyer Says:

    Solidarity from B.C. !!!

  9. Bjarke Friborg Says:

    Just to get things straight: Is there a 1000-person limit in FB on the number of friends an individuel can have? A rule which does not apply to FB groups, certainly So why hasn’t he made a group for his union? Or has he? Please fill in the blanks – I just need some info to start campaigning for him.

  10. admin Says:

    Thanks everyone. Quick clarification – Derek was booted for adding too many people too quickly, not for having too many friends in total. I heard there might be a 5,000 limit (Kevin Rudd had to switch during the Aussie elections I believe, for getting too popular), but Derek wasn’t near that (tho he was still *way* more popular than me!).

  11. cyril hammond Says:

    Crazy, is there a conspiracy here?

  12. johninnit » Blog Archive » Whoosh! Says:

    [...] few hours ago, the little group I started to protest at Derek Blackadder’s unceremonious ditching from Facebook had 28 members. Now at 1,650 users, it’s one of the world’s most popular union-related [...]

  13. johninnit » Blog Archive » The world’s shortest dispute. Says:

    [...] Victory! Derek is free again to poke and be poked in his natural habitat! Luckily now he no longer needs to work on this [...]

  14. Ian MacLeod Says:

    Have you considered getting hold of the headquarters of whatever unions there are remaining with this? Perhaps unions will come out in defense of other unions, seeing their own freedom and safety in such an action. Give it a try.

    Ian

  15. Bruno Says:

    Are we so weak that we need to use facebook, if you can’t join them beat them!

    Do we not have resources and intelligence to create our own network?

    We need cable channels, newspapers, internet radio and radio stations to be able to reach out to a wider audience.

    Let start educating, agitating and organising!

  16. admin Says:

    Thanks Bruno. In answer to your question: Yes, and no.

    We’re not too weak to organise our own activists in our own channels. Look at initiatives like Streik.tv in Germany or unionreps.org.uk in the UK. Where activists want to engage, we can provide them with better, deeper and more responsive resources, and channels to get better involved in a meaningful way.

    But we *are* too weak to use our own channels to engage with (the majority of) people who don’t yet give a t*ss about unions. We need all the help we can get to get a populist message over to those people and gradually win them round. They won’t come to us if they don’t have a reason. We have to go to them to make first contact, and that means going into places like Facebook.

  17. Tales from the Net » How to respond when Facebook censors your political speech: Part 1 Says:

    [...] has a limit on how many friends you can make. Union activist Derek Blackadder added too many friends too quickly, and when he continued after Facebook’s warnings his account was [...]

  18. peppone Says:

    yeh thers a 5k limit scobel got banned a while back but he kicked up a fuss

  19. DamionKutaeff Says:

    Hello everybody, my name is Damion, and I’m glad to join your conmunity,
    and wish to assit as far as possible.

  20. SLunionisland » User Group report 6 May 08 Says:

    [...] are concerning some activists, but it doesn’t rule out incidents in SL like Facebook’s Blackadder Affair earlier this [...]

  21. Social Bookmarking » Blog Archive » Labour and social media: resources and cases from the CALM workshop Says:

    [...] Free the Blackadder One! (and some more thoughts on Facebook) [...]

  22. Labour and social media: resources and cases from the CALM workshop | Social Signal Says:

    [...] Free the Blackadder One! (and some more thoughts on Facebook) [...]

  23. Bradley Buffkin Says:

    It’s good to see a great post about Twitter plus social networking every once in a while. Thanks for an excellent read!