F*ck You, Facebook

Preface

I originally signed up for Facebook when you used to need a college .edu email address. So, it’s been around 15 years and nothing has ever come up before on my account. My behavior hasn’t changed. I shared my happier moments and kept the bullshit to myself, as I believe most people tend towards. It’s been a convenient way to stay connected with friends and family. Just a couple decades ago maintaining those relationships was untenable. A lack of customer service and no opportunity for discovery when your account is compromised and subsequently deleted is the problem here.

You Are The Product

Facebook essentially has no actual customer service for individual users. This is because we’re their product, not their customer. The customers are the advertisers on the platform. If you have a problem as a seller, you can just click here to get support. (That’s an advertisement link from a Google search.) They’re actively trying to convince you to advertise on the platform.

“…we’re their product, not their customer.”

The First Time

On May 23 of this year, someone managed to get into my Facebook account and change my email address and password. This happened without any notification from Facebook, be it via email, text message, or an in-app notification. During the 24 hours it took to get my account “back” there was apparently inappropriate content posted by my account. Facebook suspended my account for a violation of the terms of service. This started a 30 day waiting game to see if they were going to return my account to active or if they were going to delete it entirely.

After 30 days my account was fully deleted.

All access to any groups, pages, friends, and past content was gone.

The first anniversary of my brother’s death was a few days after the suspension started. When the day came I was denied the ability to find comfort in the posts his friends shared. His account is hidden behind Facebook’s “sign up to see our people” sort of digital paywall. So, the only way for me to see his timeline was through that now deleted account.

Contacting Support

I sent emails to any @facebook.com and @meta.com email addresses I could figure or try. While most of them bounced, not all of them did, which means to me that someone has had a chance to read about my plight and remedy the wrong they’ve done to me. But, again, we’re the product, not the customer, so there’s no real need for them to give a damn about one of over a billion people.

Once your account is suspended the only recourse you have is to click on an appeal or disagree button. Any method of trying to access the “service” result in an immediate redirection to one of their lockout screens. There is no way to communicate with anyone. I would imagine Facebook might use an actual human to verify whatever the purported offending actions are. Then — this is a big one — show me or at least tell me what they think I did. Proof would be nice, particularly since they were deleting a regularly active account that was 15+ years old.

Addiction Aiding Behavior

During the suspension I tried to log out of Facebook but I was warned that by doing so I would automatically lose my account.

Also during the suspension I was getting notifications most days from the Facebook app prompting me to open the app and see my new friend suggestions. I believe this is done to keep your social media addiction going while they teach you a lesson. On clicking through I was punked by the denied service screen. This part may be an error in their app, but it sure feels like their system is fucking with me.

The Second Time

On June 30th I created a new Facebook account. I went through the trouble of reconnecting with over 100 of my former friends, which included explaining again and again what Facebook had done (or failed to do) that triggered the initial suspension and subsequent deletion.

Now I lost them all again for the second time in less than two months. when the replacement account locked out just after midnight on July 13th. I can only speculate as to the reason as Facebook has effectively no customer service and there’s absolutely no way to find out what’s going on behind the scenes.

I’m going to guess the second suspension came from my chosen account name — which contained nothing offensive — which their system ALLOWED me to use when I set up the account. If so, are they protecting their trademark or are they suppressing my discontent?

UPDATE: To regain access I was required to prove I’m a human and not a bot and I still have my user name intact. Again, better communication would have kept me from speculating.

An Aside

Facebook was embroiled in a bunch of scandals over the past several years, to the point where their brand must have been taking a hit. Seemingly to save face they came out with Meta, which appears to be a way to try to make themselves more desirable to the same people they just screwed over (Cambridge Analytica just being one example of how Facebook doesn’t appear to care for you, no matter what brand name you try to slap on the old hog). Facebook/Meta are profit driven companies. If you use a service without paying a fee, you are the product. Every thing they do is about data collection and serving advertisements. YOU ARE THE PRODUCT!

Here’s a YouTube video from John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” about Facebook…

In Conclusion

When my account was hacked and subsequently deleted, I lost around 15 years of my life’s shared journal, including text, photos, and videos I shared or that were shared with me. Every response I ever had for anyone’s content is likely gone, too. I also lost all those years of messaging history.

I lost access to the goodsoundwaves Facebook page and coordinating group. I lost access to the Friendly Chess Club group. I lost access to the other personally important groups and pages. These were ones I was the sole administrator of.

There was no perceived concern for the individual user, with no method available to communicate or even review any of the purported offending material. There was no opportunity for discovery.

I feel Facebook isn’t concerned about their users. They need to implement a fairer review system that’s more than just an algorithm. They also need to provide more robust notifications for account changes. Don’t just send an email as they might not get through. I have a phone in my pocket. Send an alert! When I open the account, make it a prominent notification with an opportunity to revert any changes made, starting with the email address change.

Update

On July 14 my newer account was unlocked. For this to happen I had to submit to Facebook’s live-person detection system, which is essentially taking a series of mugshot-like photos and/or videos, moving my head around erratically as I tried to understand and keep up with their commands. They must have thought I was a bot rather than them being upset about my user name.

I still haven’t gotten any of the past 15 years of my original account back.

So, from now on I’m posting links instead of directly sharing content, because I know that, for now, it’s the “best” way to reach a lot of the people I care about, as well as with Messenger. But, I don’t have a lot of confidence in Facebook or Meta. So I’ll be anticipating another unfounded suspension.

What If?

What if I had a Facebook/Meta VR headset with money invested into that product’s software store? From what I understand, a Facebook account suspension also brings with it a VR suspension. If that suspension results in account deletion, how do they remedy the resulting financial damages brought on by their insufficient review system? I know someone who owns more than one Facebook/Meta VR headset with numerous paid apps, and I’m pretty sure a suspension disabled their hardware products and access to their purchased games until the suspension timed out.

After this ordeal I’m not interested in their VR offerings as I have absolutely no confidence that my access won’t be arbitrarily and unquestionably taken away, including real financial damage.