Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

August 31, 2009

Facebook or Facistbook?

Hello children. I'm back after a year+ long immersion in "All Facebook, All the time". That abruptly ended when I was unceremoniously disabled by their software bot on Friday, August 14, 2009 at 5:30 pm, in the middle of my fave game, Pet Pupz.

My offense? Wait for it.......I wrote on people's walls too fast!!!!! *GASP* DUN-DUN-dun. Apparently, one of the lovely drawbacks of Facebook, which I am now finding out about, is that, if you do ANYTHING too fast: comment, add friends, delete friends, send messages, receive messages, write on walls too much, send friend requests, etc., the bot picks up on it as "spamming". Then the person's account gets red flagged as a possible spammer. Earlier this spring, I had been carrying on some simultaneous conversations, via the comment box, on some of my friends' profiles. My commenting ability was promptly shut down for about 6 or 7 days. Since then, if I get too carried away commenting, I had 2 "pink slips" pop up on my screen, warning me that I was engaging in "abusive behavior."

OK, for one thing, Facistbook are the ones that gave us the opportunity to comment on every single brain fart on our newsfeeds. When I first joined in the spring of 2008, all you could do was write on your friends' Walls. Now, you can comment on every quiz, application, status, video, photograph, poll, WHATEVER, that your friends publish. Then when you do so, they shut you down as a spammer. I am seeing more and more people show up in various chat rooms/chat boards, with the same problem I had: "All I did was respond to messages in my inbox", "All I did was write Happy Birthday on my friends' Walls".....etc. Many of the people who need help the most are from non-English speaking countries. They don't know where to turn.

And by the way, this whole incident also proves the old adage that "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished". After my initial commenting suspension in the spring, I had tried really hard to tone down my chatting in comment boxes and on walls. Then a situation came up, where a friend of mine back east asked me for my help to stop something that was about to happen in one of the elementary schools in my hometown, Sandwich. The school opened about 15 or so years ago, and during that time, the students had created murals on one of the walls. My friend told me that she had it on good authority that the murals were about to be painted over, before the kids came back in the fall, so that it would be too late to undo it. I was horrified. Both the principal and superintendant of the school are from "off Cape". Which means that they had ZERO clue just how deep family roots run on Cape Cod, especially in Sandwich which is the oldest town on the Cape. Even though I don't live there anymore, I do feel a certain school pride and allegance to my hometown. In the days before I was disabled, I was trying to get the word out to fellow Sandwich residents and the people with whom I went to school, to encourage them to lodge a complaint before the painting started. I got the word out via Facebook. And then they shut me down. By the way, I received an email from the school saying that the murals had been saved and would not be painted over. So while my efforts to help out the Forestdale School worked, I got punished for it big time.

God forbid there be an actual HUMAN that works there. There is zero customer service. All I was able to do was send an email to, and all I got was a canned "thank for your inquiry, we'll look into it and get back to you in a few days" response. I have dug up every email I can find for Facistbook, to no avail. One of my friends sent me a phone number she found, but you get sent into a general voice mailbox.

My friends even started a group, petitioning for my return. Of course most of you already know that since you all joined. It makes me feel so good to see the names of people I know personally, friends I've met on FB, and people I don't even know who just want to support me. There's a guy named Rudy Arnauts who is doing a series of videos on You Tube, called "Meeting with Mark". He is trying to get Mark Zuckerberg's attention and set up a face to face meeting with him, to discuss this problem and the lack of customer service. His videos are very eloquent and he's the only person who is going to bat for us. Even if your account hasn't been disabled, it COULD happen. I encourage everyone to check out Rudy's 3rd installment:

Over the course of the last 2 weeks, I have run the gamut of emotions. Because I was not ready to quit Facebook "cold turkey", my first reaction was utter and complete despair. I cried A LOT. It was like going thru withdrawal with the nausea, dry heaves, and other "issues" I will not go into because it'd just be TMI. Brian was feeding me tranquilizers that entire first weekend, as I could not believe that the one good thing I have to look forward to each day was taken away from me. As the days went by, I began to mourn my individual games, esp. Pet Pupz. I felt like I had killed my puppy. The more I was offline, the more I missed my friends, and the minutiae of their daily lives. That was the hardest pill to swallow. That they were all hanging out and visiting w/ each other, and I was left out. I was certain that I was destined to be isolated and alone forever.

As my 2 week suspension drew closer, my emotions turned to anger. This is ridiculous. How can a social networking site disable their users FOR SOCIALIZING???? How can a social networking site create "limits" on how much you can do, WITHOUT TELLING YOU WHAT THE FUCKING LIMITS ARE? How can a social networking site give you the ability to comment on EVERYFUCKINGTHING, provide you with a list of upcoming birthdays then penalize you for using the features???? Seriously!!! All they tell you is to go read their Terms of Service which only generally outlines the fact that there are "limits" and if you exceed them, they reserve the right to disable you. And because we don't pay for the site, they don't give a tiny little rat's ass about the users.

To be honest though, having had FB drastically reduced at work because of our new server and it's blocking of ALL social networking sites or sites that might potentially harm our system, and then not having FB at all in my off time, was a bit liberating. I was missing it like crazy in the beginning, but I was actually finding the time away from the computer to be much more relaxing. Remember, I was logging onto FB at 7 am at work, camp on it all day, then go home and play from 4:45-bedtime. I hadn't realized how tired my eyes were. Or how much I'd neglected my crafts. Over the last 2 weeks, I got some cross stitching done, and a TON of colouring.

I had already decided not to create a new profile, were I to get the "too bad so sad" email. It just wasn't worth it. All those months of scanning and uploading photos, which were now gone. Over year's worth of games that I'd have to start over again. Then of course I'd get in trouble for accepting and/or sending too many friend requests as I tried to reconnect with everyone.

By last week, I had stopped the daily emailing to Facebook, because my pleas were falling on deaf ears. I sent one last email on Friday, August 28, again telling them I was sorry and could I please have my profile back. I was taking the "glass half empty" approach of assuming my profile was gone forever. That way, when I got the "too bad so sad" email, I could just move on. Today, shock of shocks, I received this in my inbox:

"Hi Joanne,

Facebook has limits in place to prevent behavior that other users may find annoying or abusive. These limits restrict the rate at which you can use certain features on the site.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with the specific rates that have been deemed abusive.

Your account was disabled because you exceeded Facebook's limits on multiple occasions when writing on Walls, despite having been warned to slow down.

However, after reviewing your situation, we have reactivated your account, and you should now be able to log in. Please be aware that if your account is disabled again, we will not be able to reactivate it.

Once logged in, please slow down the rate at which you write on Walls. We appreciate your cooperation going forward. Thanks for your understanding,
User Operations Facebook"

OK, so now I get to come back, but this has left a really, really bad taste in my mouth. I feel like the whole thing has been kind of ruined for me. I'm allowed to have my profile back, but clearly I'm going to be watched like a hawk. I will be able to play my games, but I will have to cut down on all commenting and interacting of any kind. I will set my profile to show as my being online, so that if anyone wants to talk to me, it'll have to be via the IM chat, which apparently has no limits and apparently what FB wants you to use in lieu of the comment boxes and Wall features.

And one last thing. I want to thank each and every one of you for your emails, good wishes, support and for joining the group to get me back. In the end, that is what means the most to me. Not that I got my virtual "things" back, but the love and support of my friends. When I last checked the support group, there were over 230 people who joined. I would start weeping as I scrolled down the list of names. Everyone I love and care about the most were there. My friends have always been the most important thing in my life, and when the chips were down, you were all there for me. One friend emailed me that the only reason he even had a FB profile was because of me. Others are so angry that they want to quit Facebook b/c this is happening to more and more people. And now I understand why my friends list fluctuates so much. People come and go, and now I know why.

I love you all very much and I appreciate all your love and support. I will be logging back in to Facebook as of tonite, but I will not be as chatty as I used to be. I will be able to be reached on the IM chat, and via my regular Hotmail address. I am too afraid to say much on FB, lest I end up in the dog house for good.