Facebook has reportedly used legal pressure and other means to force two popular third-party Android apps off the Google Play store. In at least one case, the Masters of the Universe blacklisted the personal accounts of a developer in an apparent act of intimidation.
Android Police reports that according to the developers of two popular third-party alternative Facebook apps called Swipe and Simple Social, Mark Zuckerberg’s company used legal pressure and other pressure tactics to have the apps removed from the Google Play store.
Many Facebook users are not satisfied with the features offered by Facebook’s official Android app and have turned to third-party “wrappers” for the site like Swipe and Simple Social.
Now the developers of both apps have claimed that Facebook is siccing its lawyers on multiple apps that offer an alternative way to access the network. In a message posted to the Swipe subreddit, a developer for the app stated:
It is with a very heavy heart that the day has finally come to say goodbye to Swipe for Facebook.
Today, I have received a cease and desist letter from some attorneys representing Facebook Inc. My social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram have also been permanently disabled (unfortunately locking me out of tons of memories over the years and contact with many distant relatives). I believe this has happened to numerous other devs as well meaning the day of Facebook wrapper apps have finally come to an end.
Because of all this, I have pulled both Swipe for Facebook and Swipe Pro for Facebook from the Google Play Store. The app will still function for those of you who have it, although I do not know for how much longer.
Deleting the developer’s personal social media profiles shows just how seriously Facebook is taking the issue — it is willing to add personal pressure on individuals instead of just legal pressure. Facebook appears to be trying to prevent any third-party tools from accessing the site.
The developer of Simple Social included a pop-up notification for users still using the app after its removal from the Play Store, stating:
Due to changes created by Facebook, Simple Social is no longer supported. You can continue to use Simple Social, however YOU DO SO AT YOUR OWN ACCORD. Your Facebook account may possibly be disabled temporarily or permanently, which is not under the control of Creative Trends. Sorry for any inconveniences this may cause. Thank you for all your support over the last 5 years. Have a great day.
Jorell Rutledge, Simple Social’s developer, told Android Police:
…I did however remove Simple Social and Simple Lite because of threats other devs have received. The Swipe dev received a cease and desist and his personal account has be deactivated. Simple was removed because [I] really don’t want to loose my personal Facebook account. However, it’s not because for what you referenced… It’s because most… If not all wrappers get (public) Facebook data. Example.. Simple only did so to show a user their information, profile pic, and name. I also saved their cookies (like Facebook does in a browser) for faster account switching. Facebook also wants other things from all of us for hiding their sponsored posts (which is done with easy CSS).
Apparently you’re not allowed to theme Facebook. You’re not allowed to hide sponsored posts and you’re not allowed to legitimately offer users a better experience than what Facebook does.
Read more at Android Police here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org