The Curious Case Of Why Facebook Deactivated My Account
On March 31, 2016, Facebook deactivated my account without prior notice or a stated reason.
After I discovered I was locked out of my account, I submitted an appeal to Facebook. When they responded, they asked me to verify my identity. So I sent them a copy of my passport. To complete my ID verification, they asked me to email them a photo of myself holding my government-issued ID, which I did.
Today (four days later), Facebook finally informed me that, after verifying my identity, they’ve unlocked my account. They did so without specifying the reason why they deactivated my account in the first place. I’ve appealed for an explanation.
In the Facebook Desktop Help section, there is the below explanation under Disabled Accounts:
If your Facebook account has been disabled, you’ll see a disabled message when you try to log in. If you don’t see this message then you’re probably experiencing a login issue. Get help logging in.
We disable Facebook accounts that don’t follow the Facebook Terms. Some violations include:
- Continued prohibited behavior after receiving a warning or multiple warnings from Facebook
- Unsolicited contact with others for the purpose of harassment, advertising, promoting, dating or other inappropriate conduct
- Use of a fake name
- Impersonation of a person or entity, or other misrepresentation of identity
- Posting content that doesn’t follow the Facebook Terms
When I read Facebook’s mentioned violations, I suspected Facebook may have thought that I had impersonated the model Joelle Hatem. I also wondered whether someone had reported me. I keep a private profile on Facebook, supposedly sharing posts with people I know. So who could have possibly reported me? And how many reports qualify for an account deactivation without prior notice or warning? If I was doing any of the prohibited or unsolicited behavior, shouldn’t I be informed which of Facebook’s terms I was violating so that I cease and desist?
UPDATE: After reading Jillian C. York’s account of what it was like for her be banned from Facebook, I realized that I didn’t include my own experience in my initial post. So this is how Facebook’s deactivation of my account impacted my life:
- I was disconnected from my family and friends. This was all the more upsetting for me because I happened to be out of the country when I found out that I was banned from Facebook.
- I lost access to my newsfeed, which I used as one of the sources for posts, links and articles I was interested in.
- I lost access to pages I administered for work and initiatives I worked on.
- I work on several social issues. So I lost access to groups I was part of. I was also locked out of group discussions I was taking part in through Messenger. Without a Facebook account, you can’t use Messenger. If any participant’s account is deactivated, they are automatically disconnected. Imagine if a campaigner or organizer was reported for whichever reason, resulting in an account deactivation. What would happen then? This is one of the reasons I don’t think Facebook is a great tool for such activities and or any activity related to organizing, however functional we are led to believe it is.
I would really like Facebook to disclose the reason for which they deactivated my account. To me, this is what Facebook’s lack of disclosure suggests:
- Absence of transparency. Shouldn’t this disclosure be part of the transparency ethos they uphold, whatever that means?
- Contrary to what we may think, Facebook has all the power. We, users, have almost none. At the risk of repeating what’s become common knowledge, when you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. Facebook uses us, just as much as we use it. And we use it at our own risk. I used to think that without us, the users, Facebook is nothing. As it turns out, Facebook is not nothing.
- While I know that Facebook has access to every type of content I post and every kind of activity I do, and while I know that my rights as a user are increasingly being curbed, it is still unsettling to know that Facebook, not unlike any authority or power in the world, can delete my “digital identity”, just like that, without so much as an explanation.
Of course, the above is but a few of the implications of Facebook’s deactivation of my account. I’ll settle for these for now.
I guess the moral of this story is to remember that, when it comes to Facebook, my rights are limited. So is my control. Whichever way I proceed, I should do so with caution and continued criticism.