From a quiet Memorial Day weekend to a shocking surprise

This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series Return to Facebook

We spent Saturday outside re-organizing the garage, and then broke ground on a new memorial garden we wanted to put into place in memory of our son, Josh, who passed away in April from brain cancer. On Monday, we hung out with some friends outside.

On Tuesday morning, I learned that a page that I manage had been hacked, and my Facebook account had been disabled. I learned about the changes to the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Facebook page first. It was when I attempted to log into my Facebook account so that I could change it back that I learned that my account was disabled. Facebook guided me through some steps which I thought would allow me to reactivate my account. But, to my dismay, it only lead to more bad news: My account had been disabled, reviewed, and the decision was not going to be reversed by Facebook.

The reason given was that I had violated the community guidelines, which is also surprising because I hardly ever really posted anything onto Facebook other than photos of the kids and short messages from time to time. As a technology professional, I have tried to be careful about following the rules when I posted content on Facebook. I think I’ve only had my account frozen once, and that was for sending too many friend requests. At the time I thought that this was a little overboard, but afterwards I actually lost interest in sending friend requests. I am not the kind of person who likes to rock the boat.

It is entirely possible that the changes to the Facebook page and the disabling of my account are connected. Their filters caught the changes, traced them to my identity, and then locked me out. Perhaps my own account was hacked, and the changes to the business page are just collateral damage. It is difficult to be sure of anything when I can’t even get into Facebook in order to take a look.

It has been two days, and as I have dug around for possible solutions to my problem I’ve learned that I am not the only one who has had their account disabled without the opportunity to make an appeal. Everybody’s situation is better, however it is clear that Facebook could do a far better job of communicating what rule has been broken, and perhaps give a user a chance to respond.

I have also been contemplating what life without Facebook feels like, now that I am on the “outside.” Since Tuesday I’ve stopped myself more than a dozen times from impulsively checking my Facebook newsfeed. My wife has resorted to sending me screenshots of information from Facebook because I now don’t have a way of seeing it on my own. One of my favorite things to see is everybody’s posts of their kids’ last day of school photos. It’s also been a tradition to share photos of our kids on their final day of the school year, something I won’t be able to do this year.

I feel like the characters from “Battle Angel Alita,” only instead of looking up at an unreachable city in the sky, I’m kept out of Facebook by an unemotional message: “You can’t use Facebook because your account, or activity on it, didn’t follow our Community Standards. We have already reviewed this decision and it can’t be reversed. To learn more about the reasons we disable accounts visit the Community Standards.”

This blog will be about my struggle to communicate with Facebook and figure out some kind of solution to my problem, as well as a commentary about what life without Facebook feels like. Last of all, what can we learn from the way that Facebook handles the moderation of its users.

Along the way, I might sneak in photos of my kids, and thoughts about technology in general. Because, right now, I’m not sure where I can share stuff like that.

Series NavigationPlan B: Submit an appeal to Facebook >>

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