Your Facebook Account Has Been Disabled!

It was a feeling I never thought I would have, when it came to Social Media.
 
As part of a new project I am working on, teaching Social Media to High School Students and Teachers, I had set up a new Facebook account. The idea was to make sure that the students and teachers had a way to communicate with me, that was outside of my “personal” Facebook account. I had also set up a Facebook Page and Group for that project, connected to that account. Then, one day, I got an email from Facebook, letting me know that the account had been reported as “fake” and was being suspended until I was able to prove I was who I said I was.
 
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If you ever have your account disabled by Facebook, this is what you will see when you login.

 
Now, I don’t blame my friend for reporting the account. With the number of people spoofing other users on Facebook, it was the prudent thing for him to do (although I do recommend contacting the real user, to ask if they have another account set up, first). Still, it was a week’s worth of frustration, as I had to do the Dance of Identification with the Facebook folks, in order to prove who I was the person I said was. A project not moving forward is always frustrating.
Then, after a week of emails, scanned ID and more emails, the notification that the account has been reactivated and I was able to log in again. Yay! The good news was short lived, however. 14-minutes after the notification, as I was logged into my personal account celebrating the return to work on my project, I was suddenly kicked out of the account and informed that my personal account had been disabled. What!?! Why!?!
 
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You will need at least two pieces of ‘Official’ ID to prove who you are, when your account is disabled or suspended.

 

NOOOOOOOOOO!!

 

I checked my email and, sure enough, there was a notification that the account was disabled because….wait for it….it violated the Facebook Community Standards on Use of Authentic Identity. At that moment, I wasn’t shaking my head at the irony of having the account, that I used to initially contact Facebook Help Services in resolving the original problem, was now being disabled. Nor was I angry that I was suddenly not able to access the various Facebook Pages I administer to, or that I had my work on my 30-year High School Reunion interrupted. No, the emotion I felt was much deeper than that. It was the feeling of sudden, un-nerving, panic. Yes, PANIC!

 
Why? It’s not like I have lost something that I own. It’s not as if the world will come to a grinding halt if I am not checking my Facebook profile. It would be a complete pain in the backside to have to re-create everything that I have done and connected to, using older FB account, but not an insurmountable task. So why did I have a chill run down my spine when I could no longer log into an account that I have operated for years.
 
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This original account had been in use for several year, yet disappeared when another, new, account was confirmed as being the “real Sean Smith”.

 
The answer is fairly straight forward, once I took a breath and the started to look at my alternatives. Like many people, around the world, Facebook has become a daily part of my life. It is where I get my news, kept up on what my friends and family are doing, shared what I was doing with those same friends and families, met new people, shared ideas and things that I am passionate about, learned new things, laughed at others and conducted a lot of day-to-day business. It has also become one of the primary ways I communicate with people. In essence, Facebook as become a part of my daily life, so when something that is that integrated into your daily routine is suddenly no longer there, well, you get the idea.
 
The first couple of days were very difficult. I was able to reactivate an old account, so I could at least let the people closest to me know that what happened. People who know me were instantly curious why there was nothing coming from my stream in their news feed and then started to reach out when they saw the account gone. Email and text messages were received and replied to, simply to ensure that I was still alive and well. I decided to not start adding people to my old account, simply to avoid any confusion when (if?) my disabled account came back online. Instead, I left it as it was, with a few key news pages connected to it (and a few fluff pages), so all I am seeing limited to mostly the things that are top of mind in the world, today. You know what happened next? My FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) started to decline into something that was less panic inducing. Suddenly, it was my wife that was saying “did you see this thing on Facebook”, rather than me, and when she did say it, I suddenly found myself saying “no, I haven’t seen it. I haven’t been on Facebook today”. I couldn’t believe those words were coming from me!
 

There’s More To Life Than Social Media?

 

I am currently reading the latest Tom Clancy novel, rather than scrolling through the news feed or working on another project I don’t have time for. Having drone battles with my boys, rather than making sure my Buffer feed was updated. Spring cleaning my workspace, 3 months before Spring arrives. Choosing colours for painting my sons room, rather than fonts for the next cover image. In short, I have been involuntarily exposed to my REAL life off-line, with the sudden absence of a key part of my on-line life. A realization that there was a significant imbalance in my life, without ever really realizing it. I also found, when I did log into my old Facebook account, that was connected to only a few news and info pages and only a couple of family members, that my new feed was very exclusive, very interesting and lacking a lot of sponsored “fluff” that comes with frequent use and a LOT of Page Likes / Friend Connections. It’s been very refreshing.

 

Keeping The Balance.

 
As I write this, my account has been restored (with an auto apology from the Facebook team). After a flurry of posts to various accounts, to let people know that I have been released from Facebook Jail and answering some 90+ “Where Are You!?!” messages, I logged out of Facebook and returned to my book, to find out what President Jack Ryan was going to do next with the international crisis at hand. Later on I will log back in, in order to post more embarrassing Grade 8 classmate photos, from our yearbook, to my High School Reunion page and then, who knows. My FOMO on Facebook may rear it’s ugly head again, but, now that I have been reintroduced to Life Without Facebook, I may make more of an effort to find that balance that is needed to ensure that my next involuntary absence is one that starts with that line from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: “Don’t Panic”.
 
Footnote: I am aware that Facebook has, as part of their TOS policy, that you may have only one account that is a “real” representation of you. It is probably one of the less enforced policies in the FB “you agree to these terms” check box, kept mainly for the frequent fake personas that get created on a regular basis. Heck, I still have the account I created in 2007, when I first got on to Facebook. But that debate is for another post……
 

 

Sean Smith

Sean is Managing Partner in ThatSocialMediaGuy.com, a Social Media consulting company based in Campbell River, BC. Sean has almost 20 years of experience in the IT industry, from a HelpDesk Manager to business owner. Sean has been active on Social Media platforms, since joining LinkedIn in 2005. Since then he has consulted on the development of Social Media strategies for a wide variety of businesses, from retail to tourism, instructed at workshops, been a guest and keynote speaker at various conferences, has been working as the tech/start-up author for Steamfeed.com and has recently become the Editor of the Social Media Camp Blog.

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