Is Facebook Killing Avatars Again?

by Alphaville Herald on 09/01/10 at 8:06 am

Shocking overnight account death toll!

by Senban Babii

Frightened Facebook users believe avatar hit squads are to blame for mysterious mass disappearances of e-friends from the popular MMO data mining operation social networking website's friends lists this week. Thisreporter can confirm that 45-50 people on her friends listvanished in the night – survivors who contacted the Herald report similar and sometimes far higher account death tolls. The mass account murders were discovered when Facebook players woke Friday morning to discover friends list sadly diminished. Had targetted accounts been dragged out of bed in the middle of the night by hit squads,taken out to a local area of wasteland, and quietly executed? 

It has always been Facebook's policy that an account must be for a real person using real life details. While there have been instances of avataricide in the past reported by Reuters,Facebook has largely allowed the Second Life avatar community to representthemselves on the site, perhaps because Facebook's owners felt it would be foolish that to denythemselves advertising revenue from potentialclicks. Given the bad feeling that many Facebookusers have towards the site's policy changes over the last twelvemonths including a recent privacy policy change, the unexplained account removals could be considered part of a self-destructive trend forFacebook as it continues to disenchant whole swathes of the community,many of whom are now seeking alternatives.

Despite the previous relatively laissez faire attitude, somethingchanged overnight.  Facebook's avatar killers did not allow those being executed time to say final goodbyes to their family and friends.  In thewords of one survivor "It would be nice if they at least let us knowfirst, so we could message our friends and explain".  This sentimentwas echoed by many of those left behind, blinking in the daylight asthey tried to make sense of the night's carnage.

Speculation regarding the mass executions has run wild. 

One theory is that Facebook was merely enforcing its own Terms Of Service,although this makes little sense given that they have largely allowedavatars to act contrary to those terms and have even recently suggestedthat users lie on their profiles, providing fake details to protecttheir privacy. Another theory in circulation is that avatars must be removed because they provide little to nosaleable data – data-mining being one of the many accusations hurled atFacebook in recent years.  Yet another theory is thatFacebook has been removing accounts of people who have created multiplealts, a technique used to gain unfair advantage in the many Facebookgames and apps that spam our walls daily.  Whatever the truth, Facebookisn't talking, preferring instead to simply erase unfortunate avatars fromexistence.

Those of us left face an uncertain future on Facebook.  Will we be thenext to be woken up by a knock on our door before being found with apillowcase on our head in a chalk outline?

31 Responses to “Is Facebook Killing Avatars Again?”

  1. Lalo Telling

    Jan 9th, 2010

    In the real world, something like this might be called “ethnic cleansing”.

  2. OrinB

    Jan 9th, 2010

    foolish of facebook not kill off all the pet profiles too! Is an avatar a pet? *shrugs*

  3. vince

    Jan 9th, 2010

    This is easily the most stupid and rediculous report ever.

    And the characterizations you made were horribly gay.

  4. All Seeeing Eye

    Jan 9th, 2010

    Maybe Goatse .. I mean Face Book doesn’t like Second Life pervs hornying in on their territory. Is that fake Second Life FB page still operational? That Kingdon guy seems to have a fetish for outing identities and destroying the adult sector of SL. Oh the irony if Rosedale was stupid enough to make a Mormon CEO of Second Life.

  5. barnacle bill

    Jan 9th, 2010

    This shit is retarded.

  6. Ener Hax

    Jan 9th, 2010

    wow, so nicely written! i love the terms you used (like avataricide). the lack of notice is very horrible on their part. not that i think anyone would worry about me, but just out of decency

    i did spend hours and hours connecting with other avatars (i think people would call that community – hint, hint, Facebook)

    you should have my email address now tied to this comment, if not let me know. i am interested in continuing to keep your story alive and do what i can to raise awareness

    i have been restrained, so far, in a comment i would like to make and will use your soapbox to say it first

    my grandparents were victims of the Holocaust and any time i see labeling going on, like the adult policy isl, or this by facebook, i tend to think of them

    while having an account cancelled is far less grave, it is still prejudicial. seems like in 2010 we would be above all of that

  7. MoonUnit Sorbet

    Jan 9th, 2010

    Even though the avatars may not be “real,” the people behind them and relationships are. Shame on Facebook for a myopic viewpoint and lack of imagination. It reminds me of what Friendster users went through a few years ago:

  8. brinda allen

    Jan 9th, 2010

    @ OrinB…Your comment stating something is *GAY* is sounding like the rant of a homophobe. I should think that anyone with that attitude in todays world would have enough sense to understand how insensitive a remark like that is.
    {Of course using a reference such as that tells one that insenitivity’s likely not high on your list of no no’s}

  9. Kate M.

    Jan 9th, 2010

    @ Brinda: DON’T FEED THE TROLL. You must have missed that day in your “Introduction to the Internet” class back in grade school, my dear.

    And I’m not entirely sure if this is a clue that Facebook has “jumped the shark”, but it does appear we are moving in that direction. I, for one, won’t be sad to see FB go.

  10. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Jan 9th, 2010

    Nobody should have a facebook account anyway, so nothing of value was lost.

  11. Subquark Hax

    Jan 9th, 2010

    As the silent part of the iliveisl endeavor and thus of Ener, I applaud you for your great article!

    This type on action by Facebook helps bring to light issues that are bubbling up. The person as avatar is a great topic and on that will see more press soon.

    IBM already addressed the use of avatars in their human resource policies. They have 32,000 middle managers and Second Life plays a large part of their meetings. Interestingly, they seem to be okay if you want to be a toaster, furry, male and/or female regardless of your real gender.

    Indeed, many states in the US have transgender laws and the addition of transhuman considerations will soon follow.

    My take on Facebook’s action (with an Ener bias):

  12. Bunny Brickworks

    Jan 10th, 2010

    Anyone trusting Facebook with their real life data deserves to be bitch slapped. Anyone blaming Facebook for enforcing their TOS – no matter how much laissez fair there might have been in the past – deserves to be bitch slapped even harder. Just because your boss turned a blind eye on you taking home some copy paper a few times, doesn’t mean the HR department cannot fire you at any time…

    And anyone comparing the Holocaust to the deletion of fake accounts on a social networking site leaves me speechless and disgusted.

  13. Errin

    Jan 10th, 2010

    Facebook is shit so is this article

  14. OrinB

    Jan 10th, 2010

    @Brinda… please direct your rants to the one who upset you and not the one above! I did not mention the word *gay* in my post. As a proud out gay man too i would be offended by that remark too! I look forward to your apology.

  15. Star3450 Xue

    Jan 10th, 2010

    I dont know if this will be of any help for anybody but it is worth a try…….it was posted on the wall of the group i created MY FRIENDS ARE MISSING…….
    Incase your facebook account gets disabled, contact Facebook at if you feel your account was disabled by mistake. Write from the email address that is associated with the disabled Facebook account and include a brief description of the issue.

  16. Jumpman Lane

    Jan 10th, 2010

    those pesky lindens are always suggesting we “link up” on facebook lmao! well MY facebook account is still there! i lurk over once a quarter for five minutes. all it merits! SNOREFEST!

  17. Darien Caldwell

    Jan 10th, 2010

    It *is* kind of silly to make a profile on a social networking site, for your Second Life social networking site account, don’t you think? Or am I the only sane one?

    Next people will be making Myspace accounts for their Facebook accounts, which were made for their SL accounts.

  18. Senban Babii

    Jan 11th, 2010

    Can someone explain to me how in Facebook’s recent purge an account called NastyGirl Brothel managed to slip through the net? The account is blatantly used to promote a Second Life sex club. Did they think that NastyGirl Brothel was in any way, shape or form an actual person? I mean hell, look at their website!

    By the same token, my local taxi firm has a Facebook page. The Indian restaurant along the street has a Facebook page. And yet people who want Facebook pages for their avatars are being deleted left, right and centre. Does that make any sense at all? It only starts to make sense when you look at this section of Mark Kingdon’s new year speech.

    “New social tools that will enable Residents to find and make new friends, and entice and invite existing friends to join by sharing the richness of Second Life.”

    Are they clearing out the avatar accounts to make way for officially linked Second Life Facebook accounts? They wouldn’t, would they? O.o

  19. Lynne

    Jan 11th, 2010

    @Senban: NastyGirls Brothel is my page and is a business that exists in Second Life to provide adult entertainment to many patrons. We mind our own business and try not to bother anyone. However, since you’ve already called it out publicly I suppose I may as well respond publicly.

    I was as surprised as you were when I read today about the Second Life avatar accounts being deleted from Facebook since I had just read in the blogs about Colossus Linden talking about a new Facebook initiative in his last office hours.

    That page hasn’t existed for even 18 hours yet at the time of this posting. I only created the page yesterday after reading about the LL initiative to establish “wish lists” linked to Since I am also an XStreetSL merchant, I thought it would be prudent for our business to establish a presence on Facebook to prepare for what he called phase 2 of the initiative and to provide a means for our regular customers and staff to communicate and stay in touch.

    I’m sorry that the fact that it is an adult business may offend some people but it is a legitimate SL business and abides by all SL rules and Terms of Service safely tucked away in an Adults Only region. I was unaware that Facebook has issues with this type of page and when it is deleted I will shrug and move on.

    I certainly will not be linking my RL Facebook page and information with my SL business fan page so Facebook just lost our and our fans click-throughs to SocialGo, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, WordPress and the multitude of other social networking sites who welcome us.

    I’m still puzzled by the mass deletions occurring just as LL is working on this new wish list project with Facebook. My best guess is that one zealous worker type discovered SL avatars and possibly WoW, Eve, Everquest or other avatars and got busy deleting the ones he could find thinking he was doing a great job. This while wholly unaware that LL and Facebook were working on a joint venture. Some manager types may now be embarrassed, or maybe not, we can only speculate.

    I meant no harm with our Facebook page and I’m very saddened at the recent mass deletions. The fact that our page still stands is clear proof that our page did not lead to the deletions of SL avatar pages. I hope that the SL avatars are permitted to return even if my business page is not.


  20. Lynne

    Jan 11th, 2010

    It’s interesting that all the dozens of XXXXXX Linden accounts still exist too. I have no clue what’s going on with Facebook and LL and am just sitting back watching it all unfold.

    My suggestion to your readers is to remove yourselves from any SL related groups in case some griefer is mass grief reporting accounts on their own volition and Facebook isn’t really behind some mass purge on their own. Again, just speculation.


  21. Senban Babii

    Jan 12th, 2010


    Hi Lynne :)

    Listen, I just wanted to clarify to make sure there were no problems. By mentioning your FB page, I wasn’t in any way attempting to say there was anything wrong with your page. I was simply attempting to highlight Facebook’s ridiculous policy which lacks any form of even-handedness. I only even noticed your page because it came up on the list of suggested friends to add and it stood out because of the name. Sorry for any confusion :)

  22. Max Gabreski

    Jan 12th, 2010

    There is something I quite not understand well. In their TOS, FB say they will respect our privacy, won’t give away personnal info bla bla bla, the usual formula. They have to do that to abide by the law of most countries, at least mine.
    On the other hand, they ask me to open an account under my real name, hence for all in the world to see I am on FB (even if I restrict my info to the maximum, friends of friends of friends will end by at least seeing I have an account, and what people less protected might post about me or in reply to my posts.
    Isn’t it a bit contradictory with the privacy ? On every forum I have seen, people use nicks. And FB is just a giant discussion forum.

  23. Lynne

    Jan 12th, 2010

    Of all the hundreds of SL businesses on Facebook, it does make one wonder that if my business was named SLmilitary Uniforms, KillerSL Weapons, Gor Times-SL, FurryLuv Tavern or thousands of other possibilities they would’ve been a sensational enough name to have earned a public calling out.

    I have taken the precaution of unfriending the other businesses i had already linked up with on Facebook and removing myself from all the SL related groups i had joined to limit the collateral damage to everyone associated with me for when i too am eventually grief reported. To those people i apologize if your Facebook pages with thousands of friends is zapped merely for being in contact with my Facebook page.

    I guess i can thank you for the spike in website memberships and and IMs i’ve received.


  24. Senban Babii

    Jan 12th, 2010

    Facebook’s official statement.

    “Facebook accounts are meant for personal, authentic usage only and should reflect mainly your “real-world contacts.” As such, fake accounts are a violation of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. This includes accounts that exist solely for the usage of third-party gaming applications, as well as users that maintain multiple accounts to gain an unfair advantage in these applications.

    While we realize that certain third-party applications might encourage users to create multiple accounts, send out form messages, or make posts on other users’ Walls, we cannot make exceptions to the policies we have in place.

    Please be aware that we take the appropriate action on any violations we encounter. If there are any accounts like this on the site currently, it is only because they have not yet been removed.

    Unfortunately, we will not be able to reactivate this account for any reason. This decision is final.

    Thanks for your understanding,”

    I’ve started backing up any material I might want to keep from my Facebook page in readiness for the impending doom.

  25. Senban Babii

    Jan 12th, 2010


    “Of all the hundreds of SL businesses on Facebook, it does make one wonder that if my business was named SLmilitary Uniforms, KillerSL Weapons, Gor Times-SL, FurryLuv Tavern or thousands of other possibilities they would’ve been a sensational enough name to have earned a public calling out. ”

    *sigh* I guess that my post two before yours was either missed by yourself, ignored by yourself or, more likely, simply hadn’t been published at the time you made your comment.

    My point, in case you missed it, was that it was blatantly obvious that no one is actually called “Nastygirls Brothel” for real and yet your page survived while others who even used their real names (or perhaps believable aliases at least) were culled. As it now transpires, we’re all going to get taken down anyway so it’s a moot point.

    My thinking is this: if the possible integration between SL and FB happens at some point, I urge you all to not use that integrated service. If we’re not good enough for FB now, they don’t deserve us in the future. I’m more convinced than ever at this point that the ground is being cleared by FB in preparation for official SL-integrated avatar accounts but I for one won’t be using them.

    And Lynne, I’m glad you’ve had a spike in memberships! Once again I will remind you that your name was thrown up by FB’s own friend suggestion mechanism, totally randomly. I have no quarrel or problem with you or your business or your neighbour’s uncle’s parrot for that matter. In fact I’d never even heard of you until FB threw a suggestion at me that I add you as a friend. I hope that’s sunk in now? Now please stop hunting for dramaz, yes? If you want to rant, rant at FB :)

  26. Lynne

    Jan 12th, 2010

    This whole thing caused me to take a “low profile” approach to my Facebook presence and that just seemed counter-productive to the whole point of having a business related Facebook page there at all. After some thought about the “right thing to do” and effective use of my time and resources I deactivated my Facebook page on my own.

    I decided that now that I am aware that my page was outside the ToS of Facebook, no matter how much I may disagree with their policy, I wasn’t going to knowingly continue to violate their ToS and I didn’t want to place anyone who may come into contact with my page in jeopardy. Besides, I didn’t want observers to feel that if I’m willing to be dishonest on Facebook I might be dishonest in my business dealings.

    Perhaps I will reactivate it if they change their policies in the future or permit me to legally reestablish a virtual business presence there in some other fashion at some point. Perhaps by deactivating it myself that email address won’t be flagged when I try to use a “legal” method to have a business presence there at some later date.

    At least I made a decision and no longer need to waste time or energy worrying about a page that shouldn’t have existed all along, fretting about being called out or upsetting people who are hurt for having been in contact with me.


  27. Botgirl Questi

    Jan 12th, 2010

    I just posted some screen shots of SocialSafe, a $2.99 application that will allow you to back up your Facebook photos, friends, profile info and wall posts to your hard drive.

    My post:

    The SocialSafe site:

  28. Cooper

    Jan 20th, 2010

    There are some excellent SL related social network siye out there which are really ideal as they are designed for those of us in SL who wish to avail ourselves of the benefits that social networking can offer….such as Moolto, AVMatch and my personal favorite

  29. Serendipity Seraph

    Feb 2nd, 2010

    I heard some folks were planning a Facebook equivalent just for avatars/digital folks. Anyone know the name of that or its status? Should some of us cook up a skunkworks to create one if it doesn’t already exist?

  30. brinda allen

    Mar 20th, 2010

    Saw this very late.
    Orin my sincere apologies…was angry enuff to mis read the post….
    and as kate sense in feeding the trolls.

    {btw there not only wasnt an internet when i went to school….
    Univac was THE big news and it was the size of a 3 room house.}

  31. LOL

    Mar 21st, 2010

    Perhaps if SL residents did not use facebook as a Spamming tool, thier accounts would not be banned…..


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