Facebook Guantanamo

Last November, we essentially threw out our government for a new one, and one of the main reasons was that we didn’t like that they were holding people in secret prisons without telling them why they were detained, or the charges against them.

But boy, when we get stars in our social media eyes about some darling of the networking space, no matter what they do, it just rolls off them, doesn’t it?

Let’s see. Facebook shuts down your account without warning or explanation. They ignore emails. They don’t even provide a phone number to call them.

And we continue to love them? Why?

Facebook gets the Guantanamo award from this blog for its ham-handed approach to alleged violations of its rules.

Here’s an excerpt from the email I just sent to the Electronic Frontier Foundation asking for help. I will let you know if it does any good at all.

Good evening. I’m a 53-year old former corporate PR executive, running my own social media consultancy for the past five years. I have used Facebook to promote my expertise and activities, until 20 days ago when Facebook, without any warning or explanation, disabled my account. 

I’m not sure, but I suspect that some idiot playing one of those insipid "Mafia Wars" games somehow injected it into my contact list (despite my previous configuration of my Facebook profile to ignore all of those games) and it may have spammed a bunch of people. I don’t know for sure, I can only speculate, because I haven’t been able to get into my account.

But hey, I am a grown up, you know?

That’s not how I would operate my business, and I shouldn’t be penalized because Facebook allows its users to play those stupid games.

And if any company that we depended on for mission critical business applications treated its users with this much disdain, people would be outside corporate headquarters with torches and pitchforks. Can you imagine what Michael Moore would do if they disabled his account?

Repeated emails from me to disabled@facebook.com have been ignored or received auto-replies that promise a response that never arrives.

This is like a Kafka novel. I don’t know why they disabled my account, they won’t tell me anything, they won’t reply to emails, and there’s nowhere to call.

I know Facebook is a "free" social networking site, but it seems a bit lopsided that they get to make these arbitrary decisions without explaining themselves or offering recourse, and meanwhile they get to collect billions of dollars in advertising revenue by selling the knowledge they’ve collected from us "free" users.

Why are we treating Facebook with such kid gloves?


  1. UPDATE: Earlier today, I got an email from Facebook that they are restoring my access — and it is restored as of now. It appears that they detected some kind of activity that seemed like I was using an automated tool to repeatedly refresh my pages. Perhaps a badly behaved FB application on a new cell phone I have since stopped using. WHo knows? The point is that is is only a little curious that the decision to restore came after I posted this blog entry and created the blatantly self-promotional hashtag #freepodcaststevesfacebook on Twitter.You just never know what will work. When you get knocked down, get right back up! Apologies to Nelson Lauver.

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