I got a big shock this week, I went to login to my facebook account only to be met with the dreaded “Account disabled” message. Why the heck had my account been disabled?
I was very confused at first since I had received no warning or notifications and I could not think of any reason why. Then later that day, I got an automated email from Facebook. The short answer, because their AI (Automated Idiot) system is seriously flawed, screwed up, and incorrectly banned me for copyright infringement that never happened.
The long answer
I did some work for a client a few months back, and this client screwed me over and refused to pay me for any of the work I had done, but continued using the logos I had created on his facebook page (and other places).
As per the law and my terms and conditions, I still owned all intellectual property rights (IPR), which I reminded him of and asked him politely to stop using the images and remove them from his Facebook page, which he ignored. So I submitted copyright infringement reports to facebook to get the images removed.
The images in question were removed by Facebook, but that same automated AI also came to the ridiculous conclusion that I was the one committing the copyright infringement instead of the person reporting it and claiming copyright, and subsequently disabled my account for infringing my own copyright on my own images.
In addition, it seems that once you have been disabled, Facebook will do whatever it can to stop you from creating a new account. Any attempt to do so thus far had resulted in each account being disabled within 24 hours. Presumably, they are picking up the name and ip address or possibly the Windows tracking ID.
This is clearly completely unwarranted and unethical behaviour by Facebook to disable accounts in this way with ZERO verification of facts and way to get a mistake reversed. It also causes a bucketload of other problems as Facebook is the only method I have for contacting some people, it is also my default login (Single Sign On) method for multiple websites, meaning I can no longer get into those websites either.
I also had multiple business pages for my various websites, plus I also managed pages and ad campaigns for clients, all of which are also now gone.
What can I do about this? Nothing it seems, as the entire Facebook system, is completely automated and there is no human being to interact with. No one to contact, no email addresses, no phone numbers, nothing. So when Facebook F*cks up, you simply have to live with their mistake and suffer the consequences. You cannot get more unethical than that.
I have written a letter to the Facebook UK HQ based in London, explaining the obvious mistake their system has made, in the hope someone with morals and ethics might read it and care enough to sort it out, but I won’t hold my breath as Facebook do not have a reputation for being either caring or ethical.
If anyone reading this happens to know someone at Facebook who can fix this screw up, please send me a message.
The other very worrying thing I realized from this whole situation, is how open to abuse Facebook’s system is. It is obviously very easy to get someone banned from facebook simply by submitting a bunch of bogus complaints about them, which the automated system will blindly believe without any kind of validation or human interaction.
UPDATE 2nd May 2019 : My account has been re-enabled
I got a surprise today when my wife told me that my profile was back online.
I have no idea how or why, but clearly someone I contacted has resolved this for me, so thank you to that person.
For the benefit of anyone else who finds themselves in this situation, here are the various actions I took to try and get my account reactivated.
I owned multiple appeal cases, which resulted in a canned response. But I replied to that email every single day. I doubt this was ever read by a human being though.
I continued to reply to the original emails I received regarding the copyright infringement.
I sent continued emails to the facebook abuse address
I sent a message to the Facebook business page
I wrote a letter to the Legal Dept at the Facebook London office and sent it recorded delivery.
I looked up Facebook employees on Linkedin and sent tweets and emails to several people listed as management.
I am inclined to believe it is the letter that did the trick.
I have now taken the precaution of creating a backup Facebook account using a completely different name, email address, phone number etc, and giving that user ADMIN rights on my business and all my pages. So if this ever happens again, I won’t lose access to anything.
Update 10th May 2019
I received this canned response template letter from Facebook’s London office today, basically telling me that the website is nothing to do with them and they have no control over it or access to user accounts, so I have to contact Facebook in Ireland.
So clearly they are not the ones who re-activated my account. So I therefore must assume that it was one of the people I emailed or tweeted who resolved it for me anonymously.
I turned on my PC the other day, only to find that my License was no longer active, and there was that message in the bottom right-hand corner telling me to activate Windows.
I tried to activate Windows, but it failed, telling me “We can’t activate Windows on this device because you don’t have a valid digital license or product key”. It was also reporting Windows 10 home as the only valid digital license. Both statements were wrong as have Windows Pro and a valid license key, which it wouldn’t accept either when I tried to re-enter it. Since I upgraded from home to pro some time ago, my guess was that it was picking up the previous digital license.
To cut a long story short, I ended up having to contact Microsoft support and they had to generate a new digital key, I then had to wait 24 hours and try activating again, which worked.
Here are the steps to be performed.
Open command prompt (windows key + R )
Type “slmgr -rearm” (without the “) -go to services (Windows key + r > type services.msc) Look for windows update service > restart it -restart your computer
Wait 24 hours, then try to reactivate Windows
If it still does not work, then I suggest contacting Microsoft support and they will reset your license.
Do this by running the “get support” app from your start menu.
You will need to go through the automated suggestions until it gives you get the option to speak to a real person. At this point, you want to choose Windows –> Technical support in order to get the chat option.
Do not mention license activation issues, as this just sends you to the knowledge base or forums and will not give you the chat option.
I just discovered that Microsoft introduced a new OneDrive feature a few months ago that will make it easier to recover from ransomware attacks. Files Restore which was previously a OneDrive business feature has made its way over from OneDrive for Business to personal OneDrive accounts. The catch is you’ll need an Office 365 subscription to get access to the new Files Restore feature. OneDrive users can now use it to simply restore files from any point in time within the last 30 days. If you accidentally delete a file you’ll be able to restore it, or if you make some bad changes and want to roll back to an earlier copy.
Microsoft is marketing the Files Restore feature as a good way to protect against ransomware attacks that lock files on a local PC, and often try to delete copies that are stored in synced folders – replicating those changes in the cloud. We’ve seen a number of these attacks recently, and victims have been forced to pay money to try and get their files back.
If OneDrive detects mass deletion of cloud files, Microsoft will alert users through an email or mobile / desktop notification and a recovery process will let you quickly restore to a time before the ransomware attack. “It’s the first of its kind in the industry,” says Seth Patton, general manager of Office 365. “We believe OneDrive is the safest place to store your files.”
Alongside this new Files Restore feature, Microsoft has also added password protected sharing links for OneDrive to make it a little more secure when you share out sensitive files or folders. This has been a long time coming and is a feature Google drive has had since forever.
Outlook.com is also getting updated with email encryption for Office 365 subscribers. The email encryption can be enabled on individual messages, and Outlook.com will even prompt you to encrypt emails if it detects information like social security numbers in messages. Recipients will be able to read the messages in Outlook.com, Outlook for iOS and Android, the Windows Mail app, or just by visiting a link in the email if the level of security at the recipient doesn’t meet Microsoft’s encrypted connection standards. Outlook.com users will also be able to prevent recipients from forwarding or copying emails sent from the service.
If you need help getting set up with OneDrive or Office365, feel free to get in touch.
A couple of years ago my son Bret was begging for a PS4, based on the premise that most of his friends had or were getting a PS4, so he would be able to play online with them, so I bought him one for Christmas, and it has caused nothing but problems due to the ridiculous dictatorship that Sony imposes and the terrible attitude of Playstation support towards its users.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not particularly a Microsoft or an XBOX fanboy either, I could complain all day long about Microsoft and Xbox support and all the problems they have caused us over the years with their incompetence. I owned a PlayStation 1 back in the day, and several Playstation 2’s, in fact I only got rid of my PS2’s last year. But the issues with kids and parental controls did not affect those consoles, these issues really only really began once consoles were doing everything online.
We have had XBOX 360’s in the house for as long as I have had kids, one of the things I have always liked about the Xbox is the extensive and granular parental controls it allows. You as the parent have full control over what your kids can and cannot do, the amount of play time, whether they can play online or accept friend requests, age restrictions etc, the decisions are yours, nothing is forced upon you.
Herein lies the problem with the PlayStation. First off, the parental controls are a joke. Sony has decided in their dictator style wisdom, that they will determine what is and is not suitable for your children and how they will use the Playstation, and you as the parent will not be given any choice in the matter.
In order to use your Playstation properly or play online games, you first need signup for a Sony/Playstation account, for which you must be over 18. If your kid’s signup then they have to lie about their age and of course would have access to 18+ content as well as no protection from abusive users or predators. Also, if Sony finds out they are a child, the account will be blocked forever, and they will lose all their games and content. It seems Sony will pretty much ban any account for any reason why see fit, no matter how daft.
So to stay within the rules, you as the parent must signup, and then you create child sub-accounts inside your parent account. This is where your problems start.
The first thing we discovered on Christmas day was that child accounts cannot play online, there is no way to override this, it is Sony’s rule, they have decided that nobody underthe age of 18 is allowed to play online, period. So if you purchased the PS4 and games specifically so your kids could play online with their friends, you are now screwed. We could not find this information actually mentioned anywhere and had to wait until after Xmas to contact support to find out this was the reason why online gaming would not work. Needless to say that Bret’s Christmas was completely ruined by this. Had I known about this in advance, I would never have purchased him a PS4.
Despite their anti-child rules, Sony will happily sell you games intended for under 18’s which have online play, knowing full well that your kids will never be able to play online.
We have had numerous issues since with support screwing us around. Such as a controller which stopped working properly, while it was still within warranty, but PlayStation support messed us about for months until the warranty had passed, and then refused to help.
The next nightmare we had to deal with was the PSN PLUS subscription, which allows you to play online and gives you a number of downloadable games each month. Due to the initial issues mentioned above, I created the subscription on my own account, which means that I owned all the downloaded games. However, any other user on the console could benefit from my subscription and could also play those games and have online gaming access as long as my subscription remained active and this was set as my primary console. If you cancel your subscription, then you lose access to all the games you downloaded, which is another limitation that I find very unfriendly and also very greedy of Sony. The equivalent on XBOX is the XBOX Live Gold subscription, but any games you download while subscribed are yours forever. So even if you cancel your subscription, you still get to play all the games you downloaded.
Obviously, the inability to play online was a complete show stopper and not something we could live with, otherwise, I may as well of just sold the PS4. So like most other people I had no choice but to create an adult account for my son to use. This unfortunately still incurred some issues with the PSN PLUS subscription being on my account, there were things he still could not do. So we contacted PlayStation support and asked them what would happen if I cancelled my subscription and moved it over to his account. They informed us that we would still have access to all the games I had downloaded, because they were assigned to the console, and it only required any user to have an active subscription. So base on this advise, I set up a new subscription for my son, and allowed mine to expire.
I’m sure you can probably guess what happened when my subscription expired, yes the support agent was an incompetent idiot and had gotten it completely wrong or had told us a bunch of porky pies. As soon as my subscription expired, all the games vanished from the console. I contacted PlayStation support once again, but of course, they denied all responsibility and refused to resolve the situation in their usual unhelpful style. I asked them if they would just transfer all my games licenses to my son’s account, but no, of course, that would too easy and helpful. So now the only solution is to maintain 2 subscriptions, which is a complete waste of money, as I do not even use the PlayStation.
We have also had several instances where my son has contacted PlayStation support, and they have been quite rude and unhelpful to him and he has come away not only upset but also thinking they are complete idiots. If a 10 year old thinks you are an idiot, then you have a problem LOL.
On one occasion, after he had been in the support queue for over 30 minutes, they simply refused to speak to him because he was a child, he even told them that his dad was standing right next to him, and they could speak to me, but they just said “no thanks” and hung up on him. He was of course pretty upset about this after waiting so long to get through. Again no apology when I complained, just complete denial.
Definately should have gone for an Xbox One instead.
So I had this problem occur for the first time recently, I was trying to fill in a form on a web page and all the text was suddenly aligned right inside the form fields, and I was like WFT? how did that happen? I went searching through my browser settings looking for some option which would cause this but found nothing, this really had me stumped for a while, I even googled it, and found loads of other confused people with the same issue, but no solution.
And then I found the cause quite by accident in the right-click context menu on google chrome.
Clearly, this option has always been there, and I must have inadvertently changed it, or one of my kids or the cat did, but for some reason, this option has gone unnoticed for a lot of people, myself included, r maybe I have never right-clicked inside a form field before.
Hopefully, this revelation will help anyone else who finds themselves in this situation 🙂
Since Windows 10 there is a new option available in your start menu if you search for “get help”, this will connect you to the Microsoft Answer Desk team for live support, which is also accessible via their website.
This seemed like a great feature initially, to have free support on tap, especially for non-technical people, but I am saddened (although not surprised) to report, after testing it out several times, that Microsoft answer desk, for the most part, is bloody awful for anything except very simple issues.
BEWARE of false prophets
So far in my experience, the so-called techs who work on the Answer Desk have little to no technical skills at all, they have basically trained monkey’s who simply search the Microsoft forums and knowledge base for answers and just follow the advice they find online or copy and paste them to you. They will suggest inappropriate solutions that have nothing to do with your issue or even your version of windows, or that could even damage your systems. On a couple of occasions, the support techs made a remote connection to my pc and searched heir own website for answers right in front of me.
After my first use where they could not help, I was advised to subscribe to their new ASSURE support plan, which would give me premium support for 5 computers. I took up this subscription hoping that perhaps it would at least get my family access to a better level of support, rather than just relying on me. But alas you still have to go through the same answer desk and deal with the same level 1 numpties first, but if they cannot help you then they will (if you are lucky) escalate to level 2 support, who might call you back if you are lucky.
The answer desk team have no problem blatantly lying to you. For example, they promised me every time that they will email me the case details but rarely ever did so. As a result, each time you contact them about the same issue, there is no reference number to give them, so you have to go through it all again every time. Once when I tried to chase up a missing invoice, the person claimed that they do not send out invoices, which is simply not true. They promise to follow up cases, and then never contact you again. the list goes on.
When you speak to them on the phone they will ask you to explain the whole issue, and will then transfer you to someone else, again with no reference number and will not explain anything to the person they have just transferred you to, so you will have to go through it all again. This can easily happen several times in a row as you get transferred from one dept to another as each person refuses to take responsibility, and then they will just randomly drop the call, and you will have to call back and go through it all again 3-4 more times because you still do not have a reference number.
One tech (and I use the word tech loosely) I spoke to when I was having ongoing Windows corruption issues, tried to get me to permanently run windows from a USB memory stick instead of from a hard disk, which I refused to do as this is clearly not a viable solution and it would make my system ridiculously slow and a USB memory stick is not big enough anyway.
He refused to provide any further support unless I did this, and refused to escalate to level 2 even though I had paid for ASSURE support, he refused to provide me with the number for customer services so I could make a complaint, he refused to send me case details, kept promising he would email me the details, but of course never did.
Another tech tried to solve my issue by putting my system permanently (not temporarily for debugging) into clean boot mode and thus disabling all my third party services, such as my backup, antivirus, RMM, software updates, basically everything that kept my system secure, and promised this would solve all my problems. Luckily, since I am a tech-savvy person, I knew this was not safe and did not leave my system in this state, but a non-technical person would have just accepted this solution and been left with a vulnerable, unprotected system and no backups.
If you can get through to level 2 support then you may get some useful help from someone who actually has some technical ability, and able to solve your problem, but the level1 support is really only suited to those in the computer illiterate category, if you are a computer literate techy, they will drive you mad.