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.