For a number of hours this afternoon, a Facebook ‘bug’ shut down the “RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE FOR CHRISTMAS NO.1” Group that has been making headlines all month.
The Facebook Group, which implores its members to buy Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” rather than X Factor winner, Joe McElderry’s track “The Climb” in the week preceding the Christmas chart, went down shortly after lunchtime today, following a lengthy outage yesterday evening, and remained inaccessible for a period of up to five hours.
This morning, the group had in excess of 700,000 members.
Interestingly, the group became inaccessible and invisible in any Facebook search, nor did the group’s homepage display the standard “page inaccessible” notice which Facebook say should be present when a group is experiencing technical issues. Instead, any user trying to access the Facebook group was re-routed to their Facebook homepage, with no explanation proffered.
It is highly likely conspiracy theories will be rife on the web following the high profile outages – which have not tended to befall other popular groups – including many with the same aims as the RATM Christmas No.1 Group.
The group URL is: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2228594104
Jon Morter, the original founder of the group told The Global Herald:
“the group went down last night in which a member of facebook’s PR team contacted to say it was a “bug”
Later in the evening the group returned as normal, but now it’s gone yet again I do start to be concerned. If anything I have some media interviews coming up and it wouldn’t look particularly good for facebook if they have indeed pulled it. If not anything for the fact that it slows down rapidly our charity donations (£21,000 so far)
I’m awaiting a response once again from facebook and I’d hope it will be a swift one. In the interim, we’ve set up a ‘back up’ group and have already gained 81,000 members as a precaution. (http://bit.ly/thexfactor)”
Around twenty minutes after access to the group was restored, Sophy Silver of Facebook told The Global Herald “we hadn’t removed [the RATM group]… I would imagine this is a temporary issue due to a bug and [the RATM group] should be active again soon.”
There are several copycat Facebook groups and pages, with one Facebook Page on the subject climbing through 18,000 to over 22,000 ‘fans’ during the period of hours the original group was inaccessible. One alternative Facebook page was located at http://www.facebook.com/pages/RAGE-AGAINST-THE-MACHINE-FOR-CHRISTMAS-NO1/197877130755.
There is a backup Facebook Group set up by the original founders in case outages should continue for the rest of this week. It is located at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=37655682127. The Christmas Number One UK Chart being based on music purchased before midnight on Saturday 19th December 2009.
Irrespective of the outages, it must be recognised that there is a real possibility that Rage Against the Machine may well be this year’s UK Christmas Number One. Indeed, one punter has bet over £7,000 on Rage Against the Machine being either Christmas number one or number two to the X Factor winner Joe McElderry, and the current odds of 5-1 (William Hill) on RATM achieving the top spot look long considering the publicity that the “anti-X Factor” campaign has managed to gather to date.
The original creators of the Facebook Group, however, are keen to point out in the ‘info’ section of their page that they are not anti X Factor, and that their primary interest is helping to raise money for the homeless charity, Shelter, for whom they have set up a Just Giving page at the following address: http://www.justgiving.com/ratm4xmas/ at the time of writing, this appeal had raised in excess of £22,000 for the charity.
The very fact that the group has dropped out for several hours – on a website which can usually handle many millions of concurrent users – may well indicate that there is real interest in ousting the X Factor franchise from their strangle hold on the Christmas Number One slot.
Early indications from the online download websites are that this battle is much closer than originally expected, with many sites showing the RATM track as more popular than Joe McElderry’s ballad.
Only time will tell whether the Facebook generation is able to land it’s first Christmas Number One after last year’s narrow defeat.