Yes, Facebook disabled ME!
About two weeks ago I found myself exiled from Facebook. I went to login as I do several times a day and I discovered my account had been disabled for violating the terms of service. At least that’s what the cold screen said. There was a link to click if you disagreed and a form you could fill out to their appeals department. Once you’ve filled out the form you got an e-mail that stated that they would consider your request if you replied to the e-mail sent thus proving who you were. You were warned in this e-mail not to create another Facebook profile because that also violated the terms of service. They also let you know that they wouldn’t specifically tell you what specific term you violated, just that you violated it and that if your account was restored you shouldn’t do it again. They also stated that it’s very likely that your violation was egregious enough that they would never restore your account and that to e-mail more than once was pointless and would not speed up their review process.
That kind of freaked me out so I did little research online as well as with the Facebook FAQs. I found that I was not alone. There’s a whole world of Facebook rejects politely asking to be let back in. Some of these people have been waiting months without an answer. Truth be told, I didn’t violate the terms of service, but I did take a closer look at those terms and I discovered that there are lots of violations of the terms of service that are happening and I suspect many of you are violating these. First of all, Facebook is very clear that an account is for an individual so those of you who are calling yourselves by your company name are actually violating the terms of service. Businesses need to have their own page and the rules for those pages are different than that of individuals. It’s also pretty clear that you should actually know the person that you are asking to be your friend. I know that that is violated a lot but we should always remember what our mothers told us don’t talk to strangers. People should also not be continually inviting people via direct messaging to like their page, go to their event, nor bulk message all their friends about some business based thing. In short, Facebook doesn’t want you to spam.
You know I’ve been on Facebook for about three years and have close to 2000 friends so I consider myself fairly savvy when it comes to Facebook, but I’ve even had several people quote “friend me” only to find they were somewhat insane – in fact I got two rather interesting proposals even though I’m happily married. That’s not really the subject matter of this article though. When I was disabled by Facebook I discovered several really important things. First of all, I realized how addicted to Facebook I was. Secondly, I use my Facebook login for all sorts of other services and they were mysteriously disabled as a result too. Not only that, I was very disconnected from some people who I really, really care about. It was so crazy that I actually got some phone calls from family members asking me if I was okay because they couldn’t find me on Facebook.
Now I might be older than a lot of you guys reading this, but in the 1970s there were several science fiction pieces that went like this: sometime in the future we will live in a world where we are all identified by numbers and all our identities are on the main computer that runs the world. Anyone who doesn’t agree with policy will just be erased from the database. In fact I think there was even a movie with Sandra Bullock that changed her identity in the central databases of the world. Once one was erased, their key card to their home no longer worked, their credit cards didn’t work, they couldn’t travel, they became nonentities. On a smaller scale, that’s what I experienced. I could no longer manage my clients Facebook pages, share my links, look at my own photographs, my own videos and I was disconnected from the 53 million other people who were in Facebook’s good graces.
I’ll tell you, it was a rough five days. I wasn’t just going to Facebook withdrawal, I was grieving. I’m lucky though. I was able to call someone who handles advertising for agencies (he called me early in the year and I was smart enough to keep his phone number) and he got in touch with the right department and within a few hours my account was restored. Interestingly enough during those five days I discovered that I got way more work done without Facebook. So going forward, you won’t see me on Facebook quite as much as you did before as I now only go online at specific times of the day. There are several advantages to this: one is that I will not get sucked into the medium as I have before and secondly, I find I’m more productive without it. I’m also working on other networks, so if Facebook decides that I’m a non-entity again, I won’t lose all my information. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Facebook is a great way to build business, but once you build some business, you need to make sure that you’re managing your time well.