Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

Summary: Facebook has sent a cease and desist letter to Arkadiusz Rzadkowolski, the developer of the browser plugin Friendly Gaming Simplifier (FGS). A petition to save the plugin has been launched.

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Facebook has banned a very popular browser plugin called Friendly Gaming Simplifier (FGS). The plugin's webpage (fgs.rzadki.eu) now serves up a "403 Forbidden" error message, since its developer, Arkadiusz Rzadkowolski, has complied with the company's orders to take it down. Facebook has also banned him from the social network and denied him the right to develop anything for the service.

Rzadkowolski received a letter from the Facebook law firm, Perkins Coie, asking him to comply with the following two demands "in order to avoid further escalation of this matter":

  • Stop offering the FGS Browser Software, or any other software that interferes with Facebook's intended limitations or impairs the proper working of Facebook.
  • Cease and not access the Facebook site(s) and/or services for any reason whatsoever.

Rzadkowolski said he complied with the demands because he is "in no position" to negotiate the terms and simply "can't afford the escalation of this matter." Yesterday, he took down the FGS website, removed all materials connected with FGS, and logged out from his Facebook account for the very last time. He also posted the following sad announcement to users of the plugin:

I am really sorry to announce that time of FGS project has finished. After 1.5 year of providing users with a service that was meant to improve their gaming experience, I am shocked that this project ends in such an unpleasant situation as I am forced to stop it for good.

Facebook gamers have most likely heard of FGS, which aims to improve users" gaming experience on the social network by automating certain functions. Since the plugin is no longer available, I couldn't grab its official description, but here is one that seems to be reprinted on a few download portals:

Friendly Gaming Simplifier is a Firefox and Google Chrome extension that simplifies the process of accepting gifts and bonuses from your Facebook Games neighbors.

Friendly Gaming Simplifier also features support for sending gifts.

The Friendly Gaming Simplifier add-on is cross-platform and it works on Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. Requirements:

  • Google Chrome or
  • Firefox 4 to 9
  • Facebook account

A quick search on the Mozilla Add-ons webpage and the Chrome Web Store shows that the plugin is indeed no longer available through official channels. That being said, if you look hard enough, the installers can still be downloaded from elsewhere on the Web. The ban won't do much to stop persistent users from downloading and using FGS, but it does mean that no more new versions will be developed, at least not by Rzadkowolski.

Rzadkowolski has been working on this plugin for over 18 months. Facebook didn't seem to have a problem with it all this time. Either a new feature caught Facebook's attention or the company simply decided it had gotten too big to ignore. Update: it turns out Facebook would have likely done nothing if it wasn't for a third-party game developer who complained.

"This situation is solely based on the actions of one man who forced Facebook to take this step and he succeeded," Rzadkowolski told me. "The funny part is I tried to contact and resolve this issue with this man a few weeks back (a few times) like civilized people. Facebook never chased any extensions out there (while they are many of them - even harmful ones). Right now FGS gets shut down, because one guy decided he doesn't like it instead of simply asking me to exclude his games from the extension."

At the time of writing, FGS' official Facebook Page, which still hasn't been taken down, has over 135,000 Likes. Previously, it was full of users discussing everything from whether the plugin was a cheating tool, to requests asking Arkadiusz for more features. Now, the Page's members are simply talking about how unfortunate it is to see FGS gone.

A few have even started a petition over at petitionbuzz.com/petitions/savefgs in the hopes that Facebook will revert its ban. In some 24 hours, the petition has already been signed by over 27,000 individuals.

Because Facebook has also banned Rzadkowolski, don't bother contacting him via his Facebook profile. Instead, you can get in touch with the Polish developer via Google+, Twitter, or Pinterest. I have contacted Facebook and will update you if I hear back with more details.

Update: "We take action against apps that violate our platform policies in order to maintain a trustworthy experience for users," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "We have nothing further to share about this specific issue."

See also:

Topics: Social Enterprise, Browser, Software Development

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

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39 comments
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  • Robert Benwell@Make Blogs

    Sad News. I hope this issue will be discussed and solve by Facebook people and Arkadiusz Rzadkowolski.
    papichullo
    • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

      @papichullo

      You know, I can understand having the guy pull this thing if a lot of people had a problem with it, but banning him from Facebook totally goes way too far here.
      Lerianis10
      • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

        @Lerianis10 The problem is that people having a problem with it, don't even know the extension... They say it collects automatically so is a cheat. No, it just GATHER in a browser tab all your friends posts (and this is good for the gamers because you can collect things and also help friends because lately with the timeline it got VERY HARD to find their help requests). Then you HAVE TO chose what to collect. And unlike GAMERS UNITE it doesn't steal things before they even apper. It takes time to load in the page the games items. Also this is just what it would be if people choose to show only games feeds on their wall... but well i do other things on FB and i want to see what my friends are sharing, other than games feeds. It was just great and ,yes, FB shouldn't ban people just this way because users makes facebook...
        BlueNeptuno
  • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

    Truly a sad day for Facebook gamers!! Companies like Zynga have gotten so money hungry that it is hard to play the games without something like FGS, unless you want to spend lots of cold, hard cash to advance in the games. I really hope that Facebook will reconsider this, but I doubt that will happen.
    bearcatnat@...
  • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

    Facebook got it's start and money rolling from users. The games were a mess until this young programmer stepped up and created sense to the gaming in his spare time. Shame on Facebook for what they are doing. And to permanently ban this young man from his personal page shows that Facebook is about themselves and not their users.
    soultender
  • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

    Never heard of it. Anybody knows what it did?<br><br>And yeah - I guess yet another reason I'm glad I stopped playing Facebook games. It's always been one of the worst gaming experiences. Whatever it was, it sounded like it helped improve the experience, but it sounds like it's all about the money with these FB games.
    CobraA1
    • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

      @CobraA1 Yes, it is (was?!) a great app, i used it (and still do). It just opened a browser tab and gathered there every game posts of your friends (but only the games that you choose to) then you could click each one, chose to collect all visible item etc so helping your friends and yourself was easier because there were no going through the milions feeds... And the game fun was enhanced because the time, except for some minutes to choose what to collect, was much more... It did nothing more than make it easy to look for things you wanted for a game and unlike someone still say about it, it's not a cheat, because, for example, gamers unite thing did STEAL trees before they were even visible on the wall. FGS did not do that... it took at least 30 sec or so to show any new gift (and i did usually click personally on the most special) and while collecting it had a delay... so to me and all the other users was a time saver (and for disabled people a great help) because on FB there aren't just games feeds and without it, it meas we will spend time searching for posts instead of having fun with the games (that itself takes a lot of time...) so, if zynga will want to keep gamers and money, they should say something since the game is developed by them and not by FB. And if you go to the official page you can see an answer from ZYNGA CUSTOMER SUPPORT that says they aren't against this thing... Facebook shouldn't be allowed to BAN people just because a poor developer is angry because he can't stand the genius of a younger talented man!
      BlueNeptuno
    • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

      @CobraA1 yes, money sure can make people greedy. like this guy is costing them anything...
      Fairyfemm
  • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

    Thank you very much for picking up the story,first reported by CNN IReporter "FightBackNow". As the author of that report, I am in hopes that this will, ultimately, assist Arkadiusz "Flies" Rzadkowolski in some fashion.
    Kriegar
  • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

    My two cents... Facebook have pass the zenith of really new users long time ago. Either I have a FB account or I not want an account. And if I have an account I either play a FB game or I have blocked it. I tend to say that the amount of new persons who create a FB account and maybe play a game goes to zero. If my theory is only a little bit true, why any action in the game produce a wallpost? The game developers will get only a few new customers this way. For me this FGS ban show only the absurdity of this "Click begging, mass friend invites and flood the wall with posts"-Games.
    Lastwebpage
  • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

    So is adblock plus a plugin that "interferes with Facebooks intended limitations or impairs the proper working of Facebook"?
    txscott
    • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

      @rshol as they say it YES! But probably there isn't a developer arguing with that...
      BlueNeptuno
  • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

    Simply another example of why Facebook is evil, and the increasing corporate control over the computers we "own". The most threatening enemies of your computer are not hackers.
    rgcustomer@...
  • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

    One small developer of a game called Puzzled Hearts made a special trip to FB home offices in California pleading his case for the removal of FGS in mid December. His name is Sergey Smirnov.
    I have the largest Puzzled Hearts group on FB and was negotiating between Sergey and Flies to keep everything running smooth, especially for our handicapped members, when Sergey shut off any communication and would not consider any attempt at working with Flies regarding the use of FGS in his games (Puzzled Hearts, Charmed Gems and Puzzled Dogs).
    Everyone wants to blame Zynga, but the blame belongs to Sergey Smirnov who himself uses FGS to keep up with his own games.
    Sergey Smirnov even added patches to his games trying to block FGS just creating more and more bugs in his games that he refused to fix or even recognize. He put messages on his games that players had used all their allocated FB channels and were blocked from the games anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours, alluding this as being a FB block.
    Sergey Smirnov has banned numerous players from his games for disagreeing with him, criticizing the performance, or lack there of, of his games. I assisted Sergey in the beginning from a players standpoint letting him know what we were experiencing and he addressed it. He found out about FGS through my group, which was never a secret, and immediately started his attact on FGS and Flies.
    I worked with Flies since the beginning of my group on fixes needed for Puzzled Hearts, Charmed Gems and he was always quick to make those fixes.
    This is but one battle and I will see the war finished and do everything in my power to save FGS even if it means flushing Sergey Smirnov and his games down the toilet where they currently belong. His game numbers are dropping daily as word spreads on FB about what he alone is responsible for and the many handicapped game players he alone has harmed by his selfish actions.
    When Sergey backs down and unbans the thousands of players he's banned and FGS is back up allowing everyone to play on an even field, I will once again support Puzzled Hearts, Charmed Gems and Puzzled Dogs. Until that day, our protest continues and I ask everyone playing those games to block them and let their voices be heard at how outraged we are due to his self serving actions.
    Just setting the record straight and working hard on helping Flies get everything reinstated.

    Virginia Moody
    Virginia Moody
    • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

      @Virginia Moody Awesome! You're first-hand account of this is AWeSOME! You should develop an iReport article!
      Kriegar
    • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

      @Virginia Moody, my wife was banned from puzzled hearts but she is now receiving stuff on her wall that is game related FGS was a great help to us both (we are both disabled) ... we are now looking for a different place to play our games even if it means different games with different people. We have had about enough of FBs "god-like actions" & we refuse to play any of the games that Sergey Smirnov is involved with as it is evident he has designed the games only to make a buck.
      waegele@...
    • @Virginia Moody

      Thank you so much for shedding light on this matter. As a MS sufferer, I've been searching for this answer ever since Flies was banned. You have my full admiration and support in your fight. Bless you :-)
      Rekha Jlmt
  • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

    I am waiting for a miracle, somebody strong enough to take in his hands this problem and to solve it. Arkadiusz can't be pushed away in this mode, is completely unethical what Facebook is doing and aloud me to say even stupid. How can somebody think that treating a user in this way can solve a problem? I understood that first in line guilty is Sergey Smirnov, the developer of Puzzled Hearts, Charmed Gems and Puzzled Dogs, how stupid can be this developer, not to understand that if he's pushing Flies away is pushing away at least 80% of his players??? FGS is such a wonderful program, that absolutely every person how met it, felled in love at first sight...absolutely all of them, is a premier in the facebook world.
    I refused to say good bye to Flies...I know that somewhere in this big world it is somebody who can and would love to help, Flies and all of us, all those stupid little people who have no other possibility to play than using this tool. Who don't use to play in facebook, can't understand the difference, but for the players there is no other way...with FGS or leave forever games and all those good friends who helped you every single day or night for many years. The world of facebook gamers is a world of friendship not only in games...Is a much better world than we see looking of the window, we are equals, there is no discrimination, we help one with another...probably this is way these games attired so many persons. For my personal experience, is wonderful when I play with entire families, 3 generations of the same family...absolutely amazing...
    gina.cogeasca
  • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

    I can tell you one thing. Sergey probably got tired of being pushed around by a certain puzzled hearts group. She has pissed off more than one person on her puzzled hearts group. She has done nothing but harass me since the beginning of me playing Puzzled Hearts. The man/woman in the middle aint who she claims to be.
    afloyd6617
  • RE: Facebook bans browser plugin FGS, and its developer

    So facebook says that they take actions... well why GAMERSUNITE snag bar and webpage is still OPEN and working, since that is a well known CHEAT???!!?! Facebook (as in the people behind those kind of statements) should start to think better before even saying it... because users aren't all stupid! And since facebook is there thanks to users... well it's better they take better decisions... I've already created a google+ account... it will take no time to go there and start playing cityville and i'm sure i will take with me many players! So FB play fair too ;).
    BlueNeptuno