Facebook is facing a brand new accusation, and people are angry. It is not the first time it has been accused of operating improperly, of course. People have said their privacy has been violated and that the people behind the social networking giant have been riding roughshod and that they are true prudes who censor photographs that are perfectly acceptable. The current accusation is different, however. Indeed, it seems that Facebook has decided that some 50,000 people have changed their nationalities, turning them from Swedes to Norwegians.
The small island of Gotland, found in Sweden’s Baltic Sea area, is now classed as being in Norway, according to Facebook. Indeed, the entire island seems to have been annexed. When someone searches for Gotland on Facebook, they are taken to the river Glama, just north of Oslo, in Norway.
The bug was reported by Ulrica Fransson Ingelmark, who classed it as completely ridiculous. She is the editor of the island’s newspaper, the Allehanda.
It’s been weeks since companies and private persons got a new address in Norway, and we talked about it a lot on the island, and nothing changed, and then we wrote about it, and now it’s a viral success, and Facebook still hasn’t changed it.
It may seem as if a simple Facebook error is no big deal, but it actually is. Indeed, some real inconveniences are being caused by this glitch. Indeed, an advertising professional from the island, Julie Bendelin, explained why it is such an issue.
Last weekend I started a Facebook account for my son, and the first thing that happened was ads from Norway for young kids in Norwegian, and I was like: ‘No, we’re in the middle of the Baltic sea, far from Norway.’ We’ve been hi-jacked by Norway.
She added that this could cause a real issue to small businesses. The island’s main source of income is tourism, with almost everybody having a small business that runs on their commerce. Tourists are now searching for information on Norway rather than Sweden, however. This means they are being shown fjords and other elements of Norwegian beauty, which has nothing at all to do with Gotland. As such, tourists who do come may find themselves seriously disappointed. Or, it could take tourism away from Sweden as a whole, as other places of interest suggested by the internet will all also be in Norway.
Facebook is represented by a public relations company in Sweden. Their head of operations is Mandarva Stenborg. She has reported the issue to the Facebook headquarters nearly a week ago, but is yet to receive a response. She had presented them with an internal report and she believes this has been escalated internally according to procedures. However, no further information has been provided to her, so she doesn’t know whether the issue is a simple mistake or something more serious such as a bug or a hack.
The islanders are in uproar. They feel that escalating the issue isn’t enough, as this would suggest that an investigation into the validity of their claim is being organized. They do not want Facebook investigating whether they are actually in Sweden or in Norway, since everybody knows they are part of Sweden. It should be a very simple change. The people of Gotland are very clear on the issue: they want their island back.
It will be interesting to see how Facebook responds, if at all. This seems to be the first time they have made a massive geographical blunder, something that seemed reserved to the likes of TomTom in the past. Whether or not the islanders will receive an apology is another question that needs answering.