No Facebook for you

After nearly fourteen months away and tons of soul searching, I decided last week to end my self-imposed Facebook exile. Just one problem: they don’t seem to want me back.

Don’t ask me why, because I truly don’t know. And don’t ask them why, because there’s no one to ask.

In a nutshell, I set up a new account in my real name, referencing a real email address. I added a profile picture and cover photo, a little background info, added a friend and a link to my blog… and soon was required to provide a phone number, then another picture of myself, and then they pulled the plug. Without explanation, Facebook disabled my account.

Account disabled
Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

To appeal Facebook’s decision — even to get them to review my account — I would have to confirm my identity with Facebook by sending them one or more acceptable forms of identification.

Since Facebook’s reputation for handling customer data has been, ahem, something less than stellar, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of handing over a copy of my drivers license or voter ID.

So, rather than giving in to Facebook’s demand to see my papers, and because I don’t know why they got suspicious about my identity in the first place, I decided to try again.

I set up another Facebook account in my real name, using a new email account. I provided a new profile picture and unique cover photo. I added my wife as my first friend and set relationship status. I sent another friend request (something Facebook encourages new users to do) and BOOM! “Suspicious activity” was detected and Facebook demanded another picture. I sent them yet another unique selfie, and I wait:

No Facebook for you
Until when? This makes no sense.

Based on my first experience with photo review limbo, I am not optimistic that Facebook will see the light and restore access to my legitimate account. And it is worth mentioning that nothing I had done with either account violated Facebook’s account requirements as stated here:

Why was my account disabled?
Your account was disabled for violating the Facebook Terms.
Our Policies
  • Your account must list your authentic name.
  • Personal accounts must represent individual people only. It’s a violation of our policies to use a personal profile to represent anything other than yourself (ex: celebrities, pets, ideas, objects, etc.).
  • Impersonating anyone or anything is not allowed.
  • Maintaining multiple accounts is a violation of our policies.
  • Accounts created for the purpose of spamming or harassing others are strictly prohibited.

Facebook also provided a helpful link to “Facebook Community Standards” and a link to begin a review by providing identification.

Not being easily discouraged by faceless bureaucracies or bad programming (I used to work tech support for some very large companies, after all), I decided to try something different. I set up a fake account.

And it worked.

One of my cats now has a Facebook account. He has one online friend. He has posted a few pictures. He is a cool cat.

Cool cat
Max Wright, Internet star

That’s right: both of my attempts to establish and use a REAL account have failed, but my one attempt to create and use a FAKE account has succeeded.

At some point I suppose Facebook might clue in to the fact that my cat has a Facebook page, but then again, I know people who have used Facebook accounts under false names for years. There are also a bunch of Facebook users named “Eric Halfabee,” a name which not only refers to a pet, but a fictitious one.

Obviously, Facebook cares deeply about fake accounts.

Where does this leave us? At the moment I’m waiting for Facebook to compare the picture I provided with the one on my account. If they are satisfied, I’m back in business. If not, I’ll have to decide whether to give in to their demands to turn over identification, and then wait some more.

In the meantime, send Max a friend request. He really is a cool cat.

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