What I Learned When Facebook Disabled My Account

To say that Facebook plays a big part in my life is a bit of an understatement – as I’m sure it is for any other social media manager. Not only do I use it to keep in touch with friends and family – but I’m forever adding content to one of the many pages I admin, whether for myself or for clients.
Imagine my surprise when I tried to sign into Facebook one morning only to receive the following message:

Facebook disabled my account
My account was disabled? What does that even mean?
I tried to log in with another browser and I got the same message. Facebook disabled my account!
Facebook supplied a form submission page for those wishing to write to Facebook about their disabled account, and I emailed them basically asking why my account was disabled and how I can get access back to the numerous pages I’m an admin for. I explained that I manage a variety of pages for clients, and was always mindful about the content I posted – after all, my parents are on Facebook too.
After sending the email to Facebook, I sent an email to the friends who’s email addresses I actually had and explained what happened. Thanks to the connect-ability of Facebook, most of my friends were only able to be contacted by me on Facebook.





The replies I received from that email were classified into three different categories:

  1. WTF/WTH – why would they do that??
  2. Is it because you posted political stuff (I like Ron Paul and shared content about #OWS)
  3. Maybe somebody flagged you..

I read up on some of the articles by others who have had their accounts disabled to find out why mine was suddenly pulled – without warning I should add. The publishing dates on the articles span the lifetime of Facebook, showing that the company has forever been on a behind-the-scenes campaign of disabling accounts at their discretion.

I found some articles by famous bloggers or journalists, including Roger Ebert, Robert Scoble, and Stan Shroeder (Mashable). Many of these high-profiled Facebook users had their profiles and/or pages reabled soon after Facebook discovered who they disabled. For the rest of us, we’re basically on our own.

Reading these articles didn’t instill much hope in me or my situation. The realization of what I lost was starting to set in too.

Over the years I had computers crash, stolen, lost, etc. and relied on Facebook to host all my travel and party photos. The website isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so why not upload all my photos on Facebook for my friends and family to view at their discretion? There were well over 2000 photos, countless videos, blog posts (notes), plus all the contacts (I still haven’t been able to reconnect with many who were all lost when Facebook disabled my account). This was looking to be a very bleak situation as I further realized just what was lost.

I had to regain access to Facebook to manage the pages for my clients, and also for my own enterprises. Many of my pages’ admin access were shared with a partner and were easily set back up with the new Facebook account I begrudgingly created, cursing Facebook under my breath as I set up the new account.

Some of the Facebook pages admin access were shared with my clients, whom I had to contact to have them re-add me with my new account. All of them asked “Why did your account get disabled?” and rightfully so. I, too, would question the person I paid to manage my Facebook page why their Facebook account was disabled. Wouldn’t you?

I still don’t have an answer to that question. “I have no idea” is the answer I still give, because its true. Facebook has still yet to give me a reason why my account was disabled. After reading the reasons Facebook disabled accounts on their page I was still in the dark. I didn’t spam-add people, post sexual content, harass anyone.. so why they deleted me didn’t make sense. Only after I read other articles did I understand a bit more.

Facebook can disable your account if your display name is different than that on your birth certificate. Mine was, but not by much. It was still phonetically the same, but spelled different than the rest of my family. I also had a client who recently used a contest promotion to increase their email list. According to Facebook promotional guidelines, contests can only be run on Facebook through one of two apps: ShortStack and WildFire. Could that be why my account was disabled? I checked that client’s Facebook page and it was gone too. Aha!

Although the contest wasn’t exactly hosted on Facebook (it was hosted on the client’s website), and the winner was notified via email (you cannot announce winners on your wall), I was confident this was the offending action which had me ushered off Facebook without so much as a ‘Bye-bye’.

At this point it was about a week since I initially wrote Facebook that fateful morning, and I still hadn’t received a reply. I revisited the page allowing me to contact Facebook, and explained that I now had a better idea about why they disabled me, and that I was sorry. I vowed never to do something like that again (was it really that bad??) if they just reable my account.

I sent that off and waited again. After a few more days I realized something .. something very important – I created a filter in gmail for Facebook emails. Even if they did email me, I would have never received the email because it was set to “Skip Inbox/Delete”. Harsh.

So I sent another email to Facebook, this time letting them know that I had a filter on my gmail and if they did contact me prior to this email, I would have never received it.

A few days later I finally received an email from Javier at Facebook. Here’s the only response I’ll likely get from Facebook:

Hi,

Unfortunately, your account has been permanently disabled for violating Facebook’s Terms. We will not reactivate it for any reason.

This will be our last email regarding your account. For more information about our policies, please read the Facebook Community Standards: https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/

Thanks,

Javier
User Operations
Facebook

What a juvenile response – sure Facebook is a ‘young’ company, but I’m sure there must be someone there with better tact than ‘we’re not going to reable your account – don’t email us again.’ OK Facebook.

So what did I learn from my experience with Facebook?

  1. Back up your account! You never know if/when they’ll decide to delete you.
  2. Don’t manage your various client’s pages with the same account. If one page/account gets deleted, you won’t lose them all.
  3. A lot of my friends are snobs who’s profiles are either hidden from search, or they disabled the “Add as a friend” button making it impossible to re-add them.

Its been about a month since I had my account disabled, and had lots of time to reflect on the experience. I haven’t tried to contact Facebook directly since I received the email from Javier, but I did start the website www.facebook-disabled-my-account.org, and the hashtag campaign on Twitter #FBdisabledMe to draw attention to the negative experience.

Do I want Facebook to change their disabling policy? Nope.

I manage a few MU sites and if you want someone off your site, by all means delete them/block them/whatever. But for Facebook to disable the account and to keep the data/photos/videos/connections/blog posts, that is wrong. What would Facebook be if nobody uploaded content onto the site – No photos to share or tag – No articles to Like – No status updates to LOL at – It would be NOTHING.

Facebook should allow those who they disabled to download their account, letting them retrieve their photos/videos/notes/etc., before going off to the barren wastelands of Google+, or to RT their friends status updates (as opposed to ‘Liking’ it). Facebook already makes it possible for an active account to be downloaded, so why not a disabled account?

It’s time for Facebook to get a bit more mature in this area – especially with their IPO announced. I’m actually considering buying stock just so they will have to listen to my complaint – at the very least I’ll profit from them.

Have you had your Facebook account disabled? Did you get it back, and if so how?

 

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