Why these Swedish islanders are seeking Facebook status update

May 05, 2015 11:02
A Swedish flag flies proudly on the island of Gotland in Sweden (not Norway, okay?). Photo: The Guardian

Facebook does not always get it right, sparking complaints about everything from privacy settings and censorship to how it displays ads on news feeds.

But put an entire community of Swedish islanders in another country? 

Utterly horrifying.

That's what an entire island with 50,000 people feel after finding they have been dumped by Facebook in Norway, according to The Guardian.

Obviously, a status update is in order and the good citizens of the sleepy island of Gotland in the Baltic sea off Sweden are demanding it, pronto. 

In fact, the mistake has been riling up the islanders for weeks since they began to notice it in their posts in which Facebook lists their location in another Nordic country.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Ulrica Fransson Ingelmark, editor of the Gotlands Allehanda newspaper which first reported the bug.

“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.”

According to Julia Bendelin, who works for an advertising agency on the island, the glitch is causing real inconvenience.

“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 hijacked by Norway.”

“Of course it’s a problem for small businesses,” she said. “We live off tourists and we don’t want them to go to Norway. We want them to come here. We don’t do fjords.”

Mandarva Stenborg, whose public relations company represents Facebook in Sweden, said she was still waiting for a reply from the company, four days after first reporting the problem.

“I reported it internally to Facebook on Thursday and they haven’t said anything more,” she said. “I guess that they have escalated it internally but I don’t have any more information on whether it is a mistake or a bug or anything like that.”

Fair enough, but for Bendelin, this isn’t good enough.

“Don’t investigate it, change it,” she said. “Give us back our island.”

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