Social Media Sour Grapes

Locked Out


I knew it would happen sooner or later, it’s like getting a speeding ticket by accidentally going too fast past an automated speed camera. You know you are going to make a mistake sooner or later. Maybe you are thinking about something else and you miss a change of speed zone. It’s probably not a matter of if but when!

I didn’t even know if I should write this because I got locked out of Facebook yesterday and I’m probably in sour grapes mode. I’m not sure what I did wrong as the message was suitably vague and right at the moment I just get this:

Locked Out

Facebook wanted some ID so I sent them an image of my main passport page as one of the accepted ID’s and which actually I found a bit invasive. Facebook’s vague message said that Facebook are not sure if I am who I say I am or maybe I have two accounts. There is a huge amount of evidence available showing that I am who I am.

I actually do have two accounts and have had for a fairly long time because I want to keep the business side of things completely separate to my personal stuff. I might get booted off for that as that’s against Facebook’s T& C’s. Yes, I know you can do all the business stuff with pages but they still originate from a personal profile. If Facebook are locking me out for this reason then maybe I can do some manual merging if they let me back in, I’m not sure yet. It is their platform and they are perfectly entitled to boot me off for having two accounts but … I also have two Google+ accounts for exactly the same reason, and multiple accounts with G+ are perfectly fine so far as I can see, this works for me.

Just now I’m just waiting to see what happens.

A little later … Facebook have just let me back in and have said that they have verified that I am who I said I am, of course I knew that all along! I still don’t know why they locked me out in the first place though. Here’s the message I got back:

Hi Stuart,

Thanks for verifying your identity. We confirmed the information on your account, and you should now be able to log in.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure your account doesn’t get locked again:

– Verify your account: [I re-did this but it was there before]
– Upload a profile photo [Has been one from day one]
– Use your real name and date of birth [Has been one from day one]
– Only send messages and friend requests to people you know personally [Are you joking, if this was the case FB would be tiny and they would have very little business, it’s the networking that makes it even for totally personal use]
– Make this your one and only account [Oops!]

For more information, please review our Community Standards:

I know other people that have been locked out and there’s plenty of people out there who have been locked out and are still scratching their heads as to why they were locked out in the first place.

Suspended For Charity

I got suspended from posting on Facebook for two days a few months back. This happened just after sharing a fundraising post from a national charity. I’d show it to you but right now I’m locked out, maybe I’ll update this post later with it if I can get back in and if I can find it.

That incident got me to thinking that Facebook’s integrity checks against what people are doing are a bit random and indeed, if you look around at what Facebook do chastise people for it does seem quite random. Probably not the best way to gain trust on their part.

I tried out Facebook’s PPC a while back too and the moderators were pretty inconsistent. I would put up an ad, get it accepted, change a word or a picture and then they would turn it down even though it was pretty much the same ad as the one they did allow. I then started testing. I put up a test ad with a blank picture and the word test ad, they turned it down so then I tried putting up an ad for a network router from my eCommerce site with just the description of the router and I seem to remember they turned that down as well (I’d like to check, just in case but of course I can’t at the moment). One ad allowed for one person may or may not be allowed for another even if they are exactly the same. I suspect that if a moderator takes a dislike to you then you might be stuck for a while, I thought maybe they don’t want my money after all my ads are pretty straightforward and not risque, compared to some of the ads on Facebook my ads were the very epitome of innocence and so were the links on them. I have heard it said that the more you spend with them the more liberal they become. If that is true then what does that say about their integrity?

Facebook Ad
More risque than any of mine

A Burdensome Responsibility

Facebook and social media companies in a similar situation do have a burdensome responsibility and I/we have to recognise that. The ratio of subscribers to customer service staff cannot be easy either but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to treat people badly. Facebook have gained or are gaining a reputation for being heavy handed and will shut you down without warning sometimes for innocent activities. The bottom line is they took the money so it’s fair that they take the responsibility.

A burden - social mediaTo a point this is partly “our” fault as we ask the likes of Social Media giants like Facebook to police their service for our wants on top of their own policies. For example we don’t want Facebook to be used for terrorism or other nefarious activities that shall remain nameless for fear of falling foul of the internet police whoever they might be, by merely mentioning them. This is a no win situation for all as who is to draw the line for what is allowable and what is not? For example, would you call an image of a naked adult body on the internet acceptable or not (you might want to be careful who’s watching if you type that into Google by the way)?

What’s The Answer?

I don’t know if this would work but why not just stop policing social media and let people filter what they want to see instead. For example, for a Facebook account you could have a set of filters some of which are already enabled to exclude the stuff that people would normally not want to see. Individuals could then switch these on or off according to what they do want to see. Facebook already allows you to filter what you see from individuals so this is not a huge change in how things work.

You might say “but then people can see anything, what about the children”, well, perhaps you had better have a look at what anyone can already see on Facebook, it may surprise you.

Instead of Facebook booting someone off perhaps they should let other Facebook users decide.  If someone is posting stuff that other people don’t like and enough people complain within a short time then that person gets a warning, if complaints continue then maybe a suspension and so on. How many complaints would be the right amount I’m not sure, maybe hundreds or thousands but certainly not just a few. There are flaws in this idea but perfect is hard! Facebook already have something similar in place.

Faceless Facebook

One thing that nobody likes is that you can’t have a conversation with Facebook. You can’t easily appeal and their decisions are final. You send to them and they reply as they wish, you cannot discuss anything with them.Social media - democracy

How many genuine users are on Facebook is hard to determine but let’s say there are 500,000 genuine users. That’s more than the population of the USA, that’s a country … Facebook is like a sizable country. That makes the responsibility big, maybe Facebook should be a democracy with a government, maybe there should be a government of social media! There’s a thought!

Social Media Can Make You Vulnerable

So what have I learnt in the last day or two? The first thing I have learnt is not to trust Facebook or any similar platforms for business use or for personal use come to that, they can be volatile.

Google can do the same and if that happens they could take down your Gmail, calendar, Google docs etc. as well. Upset Google and it’s even worse. Fortunately Facebook is one of several strategies I use. If Facebook let me back in I will continue with it but I will be more wary and I will downgrade it as a strategy for myself.

If Facebook, Google and others are partisan then, you are castigated without knowing what the crime is and are not given a fair opportunity to defend yourself then the regime can be likened to a dictatorship. Don’t forget that we have in effect given power to companies that administer what is like a sizable virtual country.

I doubt very much that they see themselves like that but nevertheless.

Facebook want the business but as I have said before they can be a bit schizophrenic about it. If they want to maintain trust then they have to be a lot more careful about locking people out in my opinion. A knee-jerk reaction is no good for business or anyone.

Having said that, all these large social media companies have large databases and for business that’s good so we will have to put up with their vagaries but …

Services can be bought, trust and respect must be earned

… so we don’t have to like it.

Maybe it’s just sour grapes 🙂

It would be really interesting and valuable to know your views on this subject so please comment.

BTW, whilst I was writing this, this came in – Have Social Networks Killed the Web?


Social Media Sour Grapes

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