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.
Google Chrome or
Firefox 4 to 9
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."