Monday, June 29, 2009

Banished by Facebook- Just My Thoughts and Opinion

Last week I attempted to log into my Facebook account, the same account I had for severalme5 months and lo and behold my account had been blocked. At first I thought it was a mistake so I tried to log in a few more times. Nothing. It wasn't an accident. There was a link by the message that told me I was blocked but when I clicked on it there was no specific reason why I had been banned. Pretty much just a general FAQ with an email address you could write to if you thought your account was banned in error. So I wrote and I waited. By the third day, no response so I wrote to 3 different email addresses and also found a phone number online that when you call says Facebook does not offer phone support. How stupid is that?

After about a week I did receive this vague email message below:

"Your account has been disabled because you have violated Facebook's Terms of Use by misusing the site's features to spam others. We do not allow users to send unsolicited messages promoting or advertising a product, service, or opportunity. You will no longer be able to use Facebook. This decision is final.

Thanks for your understanding,"

Understanding?? What understanding. I received no warning and no explanation. What’s up with that?

Ouch! Me a spammer?? I've been a legitimate online marketer for years and yes I do use social media in hopes of increasing some of my traffic, but not in the wrong way, and spamming. I don't think so. Besides I used Facebook to communicate with family, friends and people I worked with. They had all asked to be my friend. So how exactly do you spam people who invited you to be their friend. That makes no sense to me. And since I never sent any type of email communications to any of these people only sharing my updates daily on my wall and including links that I thought they might find interesting. How is that spamming? My interpretation of spamming would be sending unsolicited email to people who had not opted in. There was no email and updating my status should not constitute spam. Should it?

I know I should just have let the whole thing go but I couldn't. My mind was racing with possible reasons why my account could have been banned. I did a little research online, which is what I always do when I encounter any type of problem. Here's the conclusions I came up with. Remember, this ismy opinion and I have no way of knowing for sure why Facebook blocked me.

My Theories:

1) A few weeks back Facebook opened up custom url's to anyone who wanted one. I waited until midnight on the registration date to grab "Merle". That's my nickname, also the name I use offline and online for about 20 years. I started to think I may have been banned as I did not use my "real name" rather my nickname. Some research indicates this may cause blocking. Also since my name is shared by famous people and companies like Merle Haggard and Merle Norman Cosmetics, I thought maybe they had wanted the "Merle" name and felt like I was infringing on it. Again, no way to know for sure but it is possible they contacted Facebook when perhaps they tried to register it for themselves. I don’t know.

2) My next theory is "Obama", as in the president. One of the last links I had posted on Facebook before being blocked was a bit about the news story where he had killed a fly during an on camera interview and Peta had a few words to say about it. Upon further research for blocking reasons I found some people online who claim they were blocked after making political commentary or sharing links about Obama on Facebook. Is this possible? Censorship in this day and age?? I hadn't said anything bad only linked to what I thought was a funny story my friends might want to read. Again, just a possibility.

3) My third and final theory of why I may have been blocked is that instead of logging into Facebook I was using Tweetdeck to post to my Twitter account and had included all postings to go to my Facebook page as well. My though process here is that any kind of automated posting to Facebook signals something on their end that you are using some kind of software and therefore must be some kind of crazed spammer. I only thought of this as recently my blogs which are hosted by Google's Blogger service were tagged by Google as maybe being spam. I had to log in and write to them and tell them to review my blogs to get myself out of hot water there. Again, I had been using an automated software program to post to my Google Blogs instead of logging in.

Is it possible that not logging into these services but rather using any kind of automatic software to post could cause blocking or banning of accounts?

Like I said, I'm not sure what the real reason was. I just wanted to share my experience and see if any of you have had any type of similar experience. To say I'm not happy with Facebook for doing what they did without any warning or explanation would be an understatement but I guess it's their website and they can choose to throw off anyone they want. Similar to "It's my party and I can cry if I want to".

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.


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