Once upon a time, there was a reason to connect with people that our main character had not met face-to-face. These unknown people were from another country and were coming to visit, so the main character wanted to get to know them beforehand. This main character, for the purpose of meeting these people, created a Facebook account. The main character added school friends, camp friends, and these friends that she had not met. She proceeded to establish herself on Facebook and chat with these people. In what was probably less than a week since she had created the account, in the middle of a group chat, she received a pop-up that said, in effect, “Hi, this is Facebook speaking. We don’t believe you exist. To prove that you DO exist, here are some pictures of your so-called ‘friends’. Tell us their names, and we’ll believe you.” Our main character, overly eager to return to the chat, guessed at the ones she did not know (many of whom had added her from a list). She got, say, two wrong. Facebook popped up another pop-up window. It said, in effect, “Hi, this is Facebook speaking. We really don’t believe you exist now. To prove that you DO exist, put in your cell phone number. We’ll text you, you’ll respond, and we’ll believe you.”
Our main character did not have a cell phone. Hence, no cell phone number.
After Googling for a while, she found an alternative buried deep within Facebook: to submit an “appeal” with a government-issued ID (such as what Facebook called your “drivers liscence”) that has your picture, full name, and birthday. So if you lied about any of these to get into Facebook, as many people have, then you’re done for just because you do not have a cell phone with texting capabilities. If that’s not discrimination, I’d like to know what is!
But luckily, our main character had been scrupulously honest. She submitted her passport. And waited. She emailed Facebook a week later. And waited. One month later, she emailed them again, and again, and again. She emailed email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, info+some random combinations of numbers and letters @support.facebook.com (not sure where this one came from), firstname.lastname@example.org, customer email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and several ones she got from Google that turned out to be bogus. She did not find a single one of these on facebook.com; she got them from random peoples’ blog posts. That’s part of why I’m blogging this.
It has now been more than a month since her account was deleted. If she tries to log in to Facebook, it says “Account Disabled Your account has been disabled. If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page here.” (Yes, she’s gone here; yes, she’s submitted all of the information it asks for under “contact us” accurately; and yes, she has waited more than a month for a response.) If she emails Facebook, she gets an automatic reply:
Thanks for your email. We’re streamlining how we receive feedback to be able to better assist you. The links below will take you to more information to help you solve and report your problem.
• Warnings & disabled accounts: https://www.facebook.com/help/warnings
Get information about warnings, feature blocks, disabled personal accounts, and disabled business Pages.
• Security: https://www.facebook.com/help/security
Address a hacked or compromised account, report abuse, and learn how to keep your account secure.
• Trouble accessing your account: https://www.facebook.com/help/login_and_password
Get help logging in, signing up, and resetting your password.
All other issues & information
If your issue isn’t listed here or you need to find a more specific contact channel, please search the Help Center: https://www.facebook.com/help
Please note that this is an automated email, and replies to this email will not be read.
The Facebook Team”
or a variation of the above.
She has gone to http://www.facebook.com/help/contact/?id=183000765122339 (an appeal) and http://www.facebook.com/help/contact/?id=260749603972907 (another appeal). (The difference is, #1 asks for your government-issued ID, and #2 doesn’t, yet they claim the exact same thing: that they’ll respond, “investigate”, and reactivate your account.) She has called Facebook (they won’t let her meet a real person). She has tried to claim that her account was hacked, tried to reset her password, and tried to do other things to meet a real person—all of which were shot down because, guess what? Her account was disabled, so she couldn’t. (What if the person who hacked your account was the one who got it disabled??) She has sent the following email around 10 times over the course of a month:
My name is Xxxxx, and I had a Facebook account with the email address email@example.com.
I was talking with students from another country who were coming to visit in order to get to know them before they came. Understandably, I had never seen them before, and Facebook logged me out and asked me to identify my friends’ faces (friends I had never seen). I do not think that I got more than two wrong, but I was then locked out of my account.
I have sent appeals with my passport, months ago, and have not gotten a response. A forum I went to suggested that I email this address. I did not break any rules and Facebook is a really great tool that I would very much appreciate being able to use. If you could reactivate my account I would be really happy. My birthdate is xx/xx/xxxx, and I repeat, I have not broken any rules (the people with whom I was chatting also would appreciate the reinstatement of my account; I was not harassing or spamming anyone). I made my account just before it was deleted, so I have barely been able to use it. Please, may I have my account back? 🙂
Please let me back in or back out…
Thank you very much, Xxxx”
She’s never gotten a real person. She has spent hours on Google researching this problem. Apparently hundreds of people are kicked off of Facebook for no reason other than Facebook’s arbitrary whims. Most of these make new accounts. She does not want to. Please do not comment with this suggestion. Not only does she not want to lie, but also, she would then have to live in fear of being kicked off again—for a legitimate reason this time.
This is where you come in.
People on the Internet have given her all of the above— Okay, fine. Yes, our main character is none other than yours truly. It’s me. And I have spent way, way, way, WAY too much time on this. And I’d really like to know if you, the good people of the world, know anything about this. Internet citizens have given me everything I know in this post (it’s not like FACEBOOK would deign to tell me how to do anything to get my account back!), and I’m hoping desperately that Internet citizens could respond to me directly. Nobody else had any solutions, but maybe you will.
Most of the people who made blog posts about their accounts being disabled for no reason got a response within 2-5 days and got their account back shortly after. On the other hand, most of the people who made blog posts about it had hundreds of followers and got these people to appeal for them by spamming Facebook with emails. I’m not sure why that should be rewarded, but it’s beside the point: the point is, is there anything I haven’t tried that you know of? Has this happened to you? Should I wait until Facebook stops “streamlining” (to “better assist me”? YEAH, RIGHT!)? Is “streamlining” code for “shut up and go away; we’re a nasty corporation and we don’t care about you, only about money”, or is it code for “we’re debugging stuff, come back in a month”? Is there any point in waiting any longer?
Thank you so much for your time, and I’m sorry for wasting so much of it with the above walls of text o.o This is what happens when I’m allowed to rant about Facebook.
P.S. Three more reasons to hate Facebook:
1. Try calling them. You will get a phone tree that looks something like this:
For customer support, press 1. For law enforcement, press 2. For …, press 3. (etc.) For business relations, press 6. For anything else, press 7.
Pressing 1 gets you to an automated message that basically says, “Go to our website. We aren’t listening.”
Pressing 7 says, “Please leave a message after the beep,” and then hangs up.
2. “In order to reactivate your account we need to verify your identity. Do you have a valid, government-issued photo ID (ex: passport, drivers license)?” Clicking “yes” gives you the same response as “no”: “put in your ID here.”
3. “Forgot your password? Please identify your account by putting in your email/phone #/website, full name, and a friend’s full name.” If you can’t put in one of these, you’re not allowed in. However, you can click a link (“I can’t identify my account”) where you get a page that says: “Did you try finding your account using one or more of the options on the “Identify Your Account” page?” Clearly if you couldn’t put in your email, phone, website, full name or friend’s name, you could not. So you click “No.” That says that you can’t fill in one of these boxes. It directs you to reset your password, and to do that, you have to…guess what? Put in your email/phone #/website, full name, and a friend’s full name.
Well, that was helpful.
But as I guess we’ve seen, “helpful” is kind of the opposite of “Facebook.”