Just submitted this gif to the Transnumériques – Videoformes 2015 award.

This gif is a compilation of screenshots done by the [loveMachine] over the course of 6 months. All selected pictures contain Facebook error messages.

The [loveMachine] does screen captures every time it runs. Because the script works as a screenless process, this visual feedback allows me to understand what it is actually doing on Facebook and helps me adapt the script accordingly.

Sometimes, Facebook throws those warning messages whether I’m liking too fast or too much, or if a post has been deleted while I’m trying to like it or just when Facebook bugs a little also.

All these assembled into this stroboscopic animation shows us how similar, boring and surprisingly anarchic these messages can be. One would expect that Facebook has strong graphical requirements on how to display a warning message. But these captures done over a long period of time shows that both messages and layout may vary a lot over time.

Facebook error messages, as a timelapse animation, shows us how unstable the platform is. It’s a constant evolving organism of which we can barely see the changes when used at “normal” speed.

La poutre de ton Facebook


Depuis le début du projet [loveMachine], je reçois régulièrement en guise de clin d’œil des captures d’écran ou des avertissements de mes amis me renseignant le comique, l’incongru ou le glauque des articles que je “like” sur Facebook.

La [loveMachine] est un script qui se connecte sur mon profil à intervalle régulier et “like” automatiquement tout ce qui passe dans mon fil d’actualité. Ainsi, vous imaginez aisément que je “like” tout et n’importe quoi. Je n’ai aucun contrôle là-dessus. Ce que mes “amis” postent, je l’apprécie, à la manière de Facebook, indifféremment.

Pratiquant ceci depuis 9 mois et ayant accepté toutes les demandes d’amis depuis, mon profil Facebook ne ressemble plus à rien, ou en tout cas plus à quelque chose dans lequel je pourrais me reconnaître. Donc quand mes amis m’envoient les étranges articles que je “like”, ils m’envoient surtout les étranges articles que Facebook a jugé bon de leur montrer.

Je fais plus de 1000 “likes” par jour. Je ne sais dire si les algorithmes de Facebook arrivent encore à filtrer du contenu pour mon profil. Mais dans le flot de mes clics répétitifs, Facebook trouve matière à alimenter le fil de mes amis. Que reçoivent-ils de tout ça ? Je n’en sais trop rien. Au début, certains m’ont dit que je “pourrissais leur Facebook”. Depuis, j’imagine que ça s’est calmé. Facebook fait le tri. Alors quand ils rient de voir que j’ai “liké” ceci ou cela, je m’amuse avec eux, mais également de savoir qu’ils rient d’eux-mêmes. Leur profil est sans doute plus proche de leurs centres d’intérêts que le mien.

Dans le livre de Mark Z. 7:3-5

Pourquoi vois-tu la paille dans le Facebook de ton frère, alors que tu ne remarques pas la poutre qui est dans le tien ?

Prends garde lorsque tu juges ou te moques de tes amis Facebook, tu ne ferais que rire que toi même. Parole d’EdgeRank.

If you don’t share any love, you don’t get any friends


Or why a sudden decrease of daily friend requests got me thinking that the [loveMachine] wasn’t running anymore.

I’ve been running a script for about 8 months now that logs into my Facebook account and automatically likes everything it sees in my home timeline. This activity generates a lot of clicks on my behalf, around 1000 likes a day. And a consequence of this activity is that I get a lot of friend requests.

I haven’t (yet) created another script that accepts all these requests for me. The [loveMachine] is about distributing likes, not fully automating a Facebook account. Although, this should not be too hard to add. But I like to keep things simple.

Anyway, I do login back on Facebook once in a while to perform by hand these basic routines and check that everything runs fine. And last friday, I was surprised to see there was no friend requests pending and that the activity around my profile was somewhat different from the usual crap I have to put up with. Something was wrong. And the easiest way to have an overall look at a Facebook profile is to access the “Activity Log” page (see top right drop-down menu to access it). From there, I could see that might lastest like was performed 3 days earlier. Definitely something was not performing right.

I then logged on my personal server, from where the script is running. And strangely, the only thing I could see was that Facebook was not sending my bot a proper page. Just a blank empty html. No login form, no data. Not even a logo. I changed the user-agent, changed server, and asked for confirmation from other [loveMachine] users. The response was always the same.

Over the weekend, I did some research on how could a website detect the use of bots and scrapers. And for a while, I thought Facebook had come with a perfect answer. But then I stumbled upon a post on the Casperjs forum. Due to the POODLE bug, Facebook had been disabling SSL v3, which my bot (written in Casperjs) was using by default. Using another SSL protocol just simply solved the problem. And the [loveMachine] was back on track.

This little pause in the process showed me how much I got used to the constant activity the [loveMachine] is generating. Since my friends count got over 1000, I wasn’t really paying much attention to this constantly increasing number. I even got to think it was a natural consequence. Once you get to a certain number of friends, they might just be coming in. I was wrong and this little break proved it. Facebook is an attention seeker. You have to give it something in order to get something back.


Gay men, Facebook and Pakistan


Exactly 7 months after starting the full time [loveMachine] project, here are some numbers and speculations around this experiment.

As you know, the [loveMachine] is a bot that logs into my Facebook account to click on every possible like button it can find (although it doesn’t click on ads, neither becomes fan of new pages by itself). For a while, I was clicking likes on both posts and comments, but since Facebook detected unusual behavior and was blocking the old script too often, I had to switch to a different approach which doesn’t like comments anymore.

There has been lately an American journalist who has tried this “liking behavior” manually for 48 hours. He has extensively written about the experience from a news feed point of view and this has even made ripples in other medias. But messing up with the Facebook news filtering algorithm, although interesting, is just the tip of the iceberg. I believe that the influence on your friends, or new friends, is the next one. Once your news feed is messed up, there is not much to say about it anymore. It’s funny or horrible (or both) but not really something you can speculate further on. This excessive liking behavior, when done over a long period of time, has more impact than just messing up with the news feed algorithm. It attracks new friends. I’m also barely scratching the surface here but I guess we enter here the world of (obsessive?) attention seekers or something related to this.


So, after 212 days (7 months since February 4th), I’ve finally passed the 1000 friends limit. And to celebrate this, since I don’t know half of these people anymore, I’ve change the privacy settings to “public”.

Since this project started, I’ve received 685 friend requests, all accepted, but I only count 555 new friends so far. There might be many reasons for this difference. I guess the most obvious one is that people “unfriend”, or even ban, me afterwards when they realize I’m not the friend they expected.

I can’t really tell precisely who all these new friends are. I sometimes try to find out. But it’s mostly pointless since for most of them I don’t speak their language. The automatic Facebook translator is of little help here also, totally lost in translation.

What I can say though, is that I’ve somehow attracted Pakistani profiles. Some are maybe Facebook bots (I’ve given up trying to detect who was a bot or not), but some are “legit” profiles of what seems to be gay men living in Islamabad. How did I get into the gay community of Pakistan is a mystery. It could be through the gay community of Tel-Aviv, because that’s where I got a lot of friend request from, at the beginning. But I can’t even tell. Why the Israeli gays then? The magic of 6 degrees of separation and some facebook algo-randomness, I guess. Who knows?

But what strikes me the most is that all these men are from what I call “religious states” (no offense meant). It’s just that what western medias are showing from these countries is what seems to be conservative and religiously (if not rigorously) oriented governments. So it first came out as a surprise to me that there even existed a gay community in these countries (sorry for lack of culture here), but I was also impressed by the excessive activity this community has on Facebook (this might explain also why I get so much friend request). When I mean excessive activity, it’s that it takes a good chunk of my Facebook news feed. So since my bot likes everything, you can guess how the spiral effect takes place.

For any journalists or sociologists, I think there is some research to do here. Again, pardon my ignorance if this has been done, but I would certainly find interesting to research and expose the relation between Facebook, gay men and “religious” or conservative states.

Tel-Aviv, as Wikipedia will tell you, is the Mecca of gay middle east. It has its own gay pride parade. But Pakistan is not what we perceive as a gay friendly country (I’m not even sure Israel is really a gay friendly country either). But I’m sure these men might have a lot to say about how Facebook is a key (or not) in an environment where they might not be so welcome.

Sorry if this article is half way written, but I’m going to leave it like that. Been trying to put my head around this subject for a while, but I can’t find a better angle of approach than just telling things this way. I’m mostly lacking language knowledge and time to investigate this further, so if anybody feels this interesting enough, I can “filter” some of my “friends” for you to approach and interview.

Although this article will be automatically posted on my Facebook profile, I certainly feel that we are drifting apart. Today Facebook asked me if I was living in Pakistan, I guess they won’t bother asking if I’m gay.

[loveMachine] reached level 2

Object can not be liked

More than a month already has passed since I’ve planned to write this post. I thought about naming it “[loveMachine] frustration level 2” or “[loveMachine] turns into a hate machine” as suggested by some users. But its a totally different post that I’m glad to write today.

Since the beginning of June, Facebook has been acting strangely in response to my automated liking script. For a couple of weeks, I was so often blocked from liking, that I was not even able to find a pattern or a maximum number of likes that could be interpreted as “good behavior” by Facebook. Sometimes, 50 likes would get me banned. Sometimes, 200. It didn’t seem to have any logic. And the ban would last from 12 to 36 hours. Making the process of adjustment even more difficult.

But then, as if nothing happened, everything went back to normal. Or so I thought. The [loveMachine] was clicking likes. They seemed to be validated, and fb_friends were receiving notifications for it. But there were no traces of these likes, none under the posts nor in my Facebook “activity log” page. Only likes under comments were being validated normally. After a little digging, and with the help of some other users, we found out that Facebook detects that it’s a script doing the likes and instead of blocking the script, it would just invalidate the likes 30 seconds or so after they were being done. This generated a lot of frustration among users because friends were notified of their post being liked, but not seeing any likes under it. It also puzzled me because I didn’t know how to find a workaround or how Facebook was even detecting that I was using a script. It also turned the loveMachine into a loveCommentsOnly machine.

Andrew wrote:

The love machine has kind of turned into a hate machine. It likes things then unlikes them now for me giving people notifications with no visible likes.

Mohd wrote:

Don’t like my comments.:-@
*if u have to like, then like my pics only.

I was prepared to rework the whole script or turn into a “comments only liker” when something magic happened. And this is the true “level 2” of this project. I received contributions from other users. Yes. In the jargon, I got my first pull request. For the non techies, it means that other users of my script were sending me code improvements. The first one came from Anna Li. She worked on a bash script for Windows to ease the installation of the [loveMachine] and its necessary dependences. Then Andrew Nakas proposed some fixes for the “liking problem”. He found out that by using the mobile version of Facebook, the likes seemed to be activated normally by the script and Facebook doesn’t remove those likes afterwards. A consequence of this is that comments are not liked anymore, since they are not displayed by default on the mobile version of the site. But I guess that’s not too important for now. So thanks to Andrew’s input, the [loveMachine] is back on track for me and him and all the ones that have enjoyed the script so far.

Let’s see how long this new version will behave “against” the giant Turing test machine called Facebook.

Liking comments is just spitting in the wind


I’ve been struggling with the [loveMachine] during the past weeks. First, the main disk on my home server, from where the script is running, crashed beautifully. Second, Facebook has somewhat changed the rules lately about how much likes I can do in a certain period of time (will write more on that later).

During one of those “banned from liking” periods that I get once in a while, I accidentally realized that Facebook was banning “likes” on posts, but not on comments. WTF?! Yep. Can’t like posts, but can still like comments. How’s that? No idea, but there is obviously a difference for Facebook. And my guess is because “Likes on comments” mean jack shit. At best, they serve the purpose of filtering the most appreciated ones on posts that have hundreds or thousands of them. But beyond that, they are just worthless. And something worthless doesn’t need to be limited.

The official post announcing the feature (on June 16th, 2010) is so boringly written, it does nothing to contradict my point.

All in all, this led me to change the loveMachine.js script so it could make the difference between a like under a post and a like under a comment. Thus, even under a temporary ban, it can still spread its love but only to the commenters.

“Meh” illustration by Ken Murphy and released under CC-by-nc-sa

A facebook warning animation

Everytime the [loveMachine] runs over my profile, it takes a screenshot of the page when it’s done. At first, it was a way for me to see if it was really doing its job and to catch the Facebook warning messages that might have appeared during the process. But since a couple months now, I’ve just been collecting all the ones that display warning messages.

Here it is, in a gif compilation, 120 facebook warning screens.


It is resized for weight purposes (original is 26Mo. Shout if you want it).

Here is the magick line to convert 120 jpegs in one gif in one go (with a bit of blur for NDA reasons):

convert *.jpg -resize 560x560 -delay 10 -loop 0 -region 80x320+0+100 -blur 300 fb_anim_560_b.gif

Presentation de la [loveMachine] @RecyclartBXL


Ce jeudi 17 avril 2014, courte présentation de la [loveMachine] lors d’une soirée #LOOP organisée chez Recyclart.

Les #LOOP, c’est une série de présentations ultracourtes sur des projets expérimentaux développés dans l’atelier ‘Variable‘ à Schaerbeek.

Variable est un atelier collectif à Schaerbeek qui héberge Open Source Publishing, Open Hardware Lab, Libre Video Lab et Open Sound Lab. Des artistes de multiples disciplines y travaillent avec du free software, open source et du hardware récupéré, avec des licences ouvertes. Ce “Free Libre Open Source Software Arts Lab” bruxellois est unique en Europe.

Reportez-vous au programme pour le contenu complet de la soirée. C’est gratuit, c’est à 20h30, c’est ouvert, c’est multilingue et il y a un concert à la fin.

Finally Facebook implements the “dislike”… but it’s complicated

Since all my likes are handled by the [loveMachine], I found myself looking for other things to do on Facebook. That’s when I stumbled on the (hidden) “dislike” function.

Since it’s a long awaited feature, I must warn you that it’s not as easy as the “like”. It requires at least 3 clicks, works only on comments and the outcome of it is not public. But no third party, browser plugin or application required, here’s how it works:

  1. Find a comment that you dislike under one of your posts.
  2. Click on the light grey [X] next to
  3. The comment is then replaced by this text “This comment has been removed” and two links.
    Click on “Give (the commenter) feedback”.give-feedback
  4. Facebook will then pop-up a message window pre-filled with: “Hey, I didn’t like this comment”.
    Click send.didnt-like.

As you can see, it’s quite a hassle. But it’s there. So from now on, don’t say anymore that Facebook doesn’t have the “dislike” function.

Unless what you are really missing is that your friends don’t see the things that you dislike. Something teenagers might be demanding after all. Mark? Anybody listening?