Matt was kicked off of Facebook for no reason in March, got the social networking site to admit its error and reinstate him after a few weeks in April, then got the boot again and has been floating around in outer darkness ever since. His tale of despair:
As of today, May 13th, I’m banned from Facebook and have been for almost two months now. Here’s the kicker: by Facebook’s own admission, I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. I don’t know what’s going on here or why it’s going on — all I know is that I need your help in resolving this matter.
Gather ’round, friends, and let me tell you a tale of Facebook woe:
March 25th: It was late. I was poking around Facebook, just killing a little time before bed. I hit F5 at one point to refresh my News Feed, and out of the blue, Facebook asked me to login again. When I tried to do so, I received the following message: “Your account has been disabled. If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page here.” So, one minute, everything was hunky-dory, and the next, I was banned for reasons unknown — no warning, no explanation, nothing. Fantastic.
Puzzled, I immediately read through the aforementioned FAQ and their ToS, hoping to narrow down just what it is I could’ve possibly done to trigger such action, but nothing stood out. It was all pretty standard fare — don’t harass our users, don’t spam, don’t post pornography, and so forth — none of which seemed to apply to me. One point of interest: “Accounts can either be disabled for repeat offenses or for one, particularly egregious violation.” Certainly, nothing I’ve ever done on Facebook could reasonably be classified as an egregious enough violation to warrant the instant, permanent ban with which I’d just been slapped. No, something wasn’t right here.
Fortunately, at the end of the FAQ, they offer a solution: “If none of the above are applicable, and you think your account was mistakenly disabled, please contact us here.” So I did. On the night of March 25th, I sent a letter to email@example.com outlining everything I mentioned above — I was disabled for reasons unknown to me, I’ve never been warned in the past or done anything that would reasonably come even *close* to constituting a “particularly egregious violation”, and I’m just your average, everyday user who can’t for the life of him figure out why he was targeted.
April 13th: Almost three weeks later, I *still* hadn’t heard back from anyone. Frustrated, I decided to poke around their site to see if I could find an alternate means of contact that might expedite the process. As luck would have it, my search yielded a “My Account Has Been Compromised” form. Could someone have broken into my account and done something of some sort to get me banned? With a password so strong, it didn’t seem likely, but then again, what other explanation was there? “What the hell?”, I figured. I filled out the form, sent it off, and continued playing the waiting game.
April 14th: Less than 24 hours later, I received the following response to my form submission:
Your account was disabled in error. We have reactivated it and you should be able to access it again. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Please let me know if you have any further questions or issues.
Thanks for contacting Facebook,
SUCCESS! Not one to take chances, though, I spent an hour or so skimming my account from top to bottom in search of any content that could possibly be construed as a violation of their ToS, but found no such material. Shrugging my shoulders, I carried on as usual, hoping this ordeal was finally behind me once and for all.
April 21st: But it wasn’t. I arrived home on the 21st, loaded up Facebook, and was once again greeted by the login page and the “account disabled” message. Say whaaaaaaaaaat? At an almost complete loss for words, I immediately fired off a brief follow-up to Anthony informing him that I was banned again and asking that he investigate the matter further. To date, no response.
April 30th: It occurred to me that, depending on how Facebook’s support system works, my previous ticket might’ve been closed and, therefore, my letter to Anthony may never have reached its destination. Just in case, I fired another letter off to firstname.lastname@example.org. To date, no response. [Curiously, when I first wrote back in March, I received an immediate auto-response to the effect of “thanks for your letter, you’ll be hearing from us soon”. I received no such auto-response this time around. Are subsequent appeal requests being filtered?]
May 7th: Decided to give the “account compromised” form another shot. To date — you guessed it — no response.
May 13th: Having reached my wits’ end and run out of other options, I turned to the Consumerist for help. But, uh, you knew that, didn’t you?
Long story short, at this point, I’ve been banned from Facebook for 42 of the past 49 days for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. In a day and age where having your Facebook access revoked is tantamount to having your social life revoked, this has gone from simple misunderstanding to completely and totally unacceptable. And yet, despite being, by Facebook’s own admission, not in the wrong here, I remain banned almost two months later, and I seem to have no further recourse outside of continuing to sit about, waiting on a response that I doubt will ever come. It’s as if they’re done talking to me, there’s nothing I can say or do to change that, and that’s all there is to it. I feel like I’m on the playground in elementary school all over again. Or at the bar on a Friday night, for that matter.
Keeping in mind, then, that, with the excess of friends, pictures, and other general content I have in my account, simply creating a new one and moving on is out of the question (particularly since, if I’m getting picked off by some malfunctioning auto-ban script, in all likelihood, they’ll just ban me again after I spend the hours upon hours it’ll take to put together a reasonably close approximation of my former profile), what’s my next move, Consumerist?
Nearly han three months without being tempted to take someone’s “How Well Do You Know Me?” quiz or being spammed by his stalker acquaintance’s latest Mafia Wars exploits? We don’t know whether to pity Matt or envy him.
What would you do under such circumstances, Consumerists? Go back to Friendster? Start talking to people in real life once again?