As I’ve shared that my account was disabled by Facebook, I’ve heard three different kinds of reactions. The first was some sympathy, but not a lot of hope. Something along the lines of, “Well, that’s too bad, but good luck getting it back.” It’s as if I lost my wedding ring at a restaurant, and the probability is that I’m never going to see it again.
The second reaction is to ask if I had secured my account properly. And, I’m sure a person can always do more to keep their account secure. I have been looking into this more. But, I don’t know if this is really relevant to the fact that someone purposefully got in, and made those changes. And, account information gets obtained in a lot of different ways. I definitely will be looking at ways to better secure my accounts.
The third reaction was unexpected, and I’ve seen it on Reddit, YouTube, and Twitter. There are actually people who are peddling a “solution” for those whose accounts have been disabled by Facebook. They recommend hiring a hacker to help reactivate the Facebook account. I just try to ignore them, because there is no way I am going to get another hacker involved, and its possible that they’re trying to scam people. By now, I thought there was nothing on the Internet that would surprise me, but I would never have guessed there was a cottage industry centered around “helping” people whose accounts were disabled by Facebook.
One of the goals of this site is to help put a human perspective on what it is like to lose access to Facebook, and for unclear reasons. I’ve always felt that if you are respectful, and follow the rules, that for the most part people will treat you with respect. This isn’t what’s happened with Facebook. I didn’t break any of their rules for community standards, and they disabled my account anyways. It is possible that someone got into my account and posted things that did break those rules, but that’s a different matter. And, I’d understand if they had to temporarily shut down my account as a precaution, but then it would have been better if they had explained that this is what they were doing. Right now, I feel like their beef is with me, and not the person who broke into my account which, by the way, is also against the rules. It’s like I was framed for a crime and then convicted all in the same twelve hours.
I can understand people’s reaction to my situation. In my own mind, Facebook is not really a high priority in my life. I need money, clothes, food, my car, and air to survive, but I can live without Facebook. But, the social network has seeped so deeply into my life, and I don’t know if I ever stopped to re-examine how important it really has become. And, I am not talking about satisfying my impulsive need to check my Facebook newsfeed. I’m referring to the fact that so many organizations and companies have started to communicate over Facebook, I’ve really started to rely on it to get my information. Our school district, for example, has been posting a lot of their information on their Facebook page for years, because they figured out that that’s where the students and parents are spending their time. And, this makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that we’ve trusted this flow of information to a company like Facebook, despite the fact that we know that their business model is to match our interests and habits with companies. And, despite the fact that we don’t know how consistent their policies are.
Because Facebook is great if you follow the rules, but sometimes that just isn’t possible, such as in my case. Or, a photo that would be okay elsewhere might conflict with their community standards. And, some things should be blocked or taken down until they can be reviewed, but the process should be transparent to at least the user who could potentially be impacted for the rest of their life.
Perhaps what we should be asking is whether we are important to Facebook. This week, I began to realize that I am not a Facebook customer. When I’ve helped set up systems which supported customers, the bottom line was to create ways to assist them with a product, help them to find answers, or get them in touch with someone they can talk to. Facebook’s system seems to be set up to keep their “customers” out, like a huge barricade. Or, if we are not the customer, then we are the commodity. And, that raises a lot of other questions.
I think we should be asking ourselves why Facebook has gotten to be as big and closed as it is right now. I think that the explanation is that we let it become this way, because for the longest time it was just a fun diversion from the things that really mattered in our lives. Then, those priorities began to shift over to Facebook, until they merged together. And, I’ll admit it has been convenient to be able to find school information, news headlines, memes, and family’s or friend’s vacation photos all under one spot. But, I don’t think I ever really stopped to think about how big a role Facebook was playing in my life, until my account was disabled this week. And now, because of automated moderation and maybe the decision of one or to Facebook employees, I’m going to lose access to all of the photos, videos, and posts I accumulated inside my account over the last ten years.
It would be smart for everybody to reassess Facebook’s role in their life. If you value the items in your newsfeed, then it would be smart to take certain precautions, such as securing your account and backing up your assets from time to time. Because, whatever the reason might be, there could be a time when you will find yourself cut off from that information either temporarily or permanently.