Some days ago, I was really irritated: I couldn’t access nor my Facebook account neither my Facebook pages. My Facebook account was disabled or blocked due to suspicious activity. Facebook told me that “suspicious activity has been detected on your Facebook account and it has been temporarily suspended as a security precaution”. So I was locked out of Facebook. When I try to log in I see a message saying my account is suspended. And when I went to Facebook.com/miApple.me, the URL of my personal page, it said “Content Unavailable.”. Read who I recovery my disabled Facebook account and, as a bonus, my lessons learned at the end of this post.
I searched the web for disabled, suspended and blocked Facebook accounts. And I’m not alone! Since September 2014, Facebook “real-name policy” is rolling out, hitting the right, but also the wrong people, like native Indians and others. The official Facebook statement “Keeping Facebook activity authentic” by Matt Jones, Site Integrity Engineer, tries to explain the whole story. Up to the date when Facebook disabled my account, I got the opinion that Facebook is, in principle, on the right way. But there’s one important point: It is not only the right way what counts, but also HOW you’re going that way. And in that point, Facebook is failing completely.
Submitting an appeal
At the end I found a Facebook’s help page “Disabled Accounts“. Facebook tells you some reasons for disabling an account:
“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
I’ve nor never ever received any warnings, neither done one of the other things. I was still confused. And further more, Facebook says on that help page:
“To regain access to your account, follow the instructions you see when you try to log in. For more information about what’s allowed on Facebook, please review the Facebook Community Standards.”
OK, I thought, go ahead. I followed the instructions and Facebook wanted to verify my name. I was puzzled because Facebook officially allows nick names (for Details see “What other names are allowed on Facebook?“). And I got one: Gee Are stands for the first letters of my two first names: “G. R.”. It’s like A Jay (A. J.)….
Verifying your identity
“Before we can review your account, please fill out the form below to help us verify your identity. Please attach a copy of your ID(s). Learn more about why we require ID verification and what types of ID we’ll accept below.”
Let’s go to the next chapter. I scanned my ID and uploaded it to Facebook. That’s illegal in Germany. You aren’t allowed to make any copies of your German ID. Hence, Facebook forces me to break the law. Okay, Facebook states why they Need my ID and that they will delete the copy after verifying my identity:
“We require everyone using Facebook to use their authentic name and birthday. This way, you always know who you’re connecting with. In order to confirm that you’re using your authentic name on Facebook, we need you to provide a copy of your ID. Please keep in mind that we’ll permanently delete this document after we resolve your issue.”
…and Facebook is telling you what names are allowed:
“Facebook is a community where people use their authentic identities. We require people to provide the name they use in real life; that way, you always know who you’re connecting with. This helps keep our community safe.
Please refrain from adding any of these to your name:
- Symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, repeating characters or punctuation.
- Characters from multiple languages.
- Titles of any kind (ex: professional, religious).
- Words, phrases or nicknames in place of a middle name.
- Offensive or suggestive words of any kind.
Other things to keep in mind:
- The name you use should be your authentic identity; as your friends call you in real life and as our acceptable identification forms would show.
- Nicknames can be used as a first or middle name if they’re a variation of your authentic name (like Bob instead of Robert).
- You can also list an additional name on your account (ex: maiden name, nickname, professional name).
- Profiles are for individual use only. We offer Pages for professional personas, organizations and businesses.
- Pretending to be anything or anyone isn’t allowed.
I must apologize. There are many different ways to confirm your identity. Find the complete list of types of IDs Facebook accepts in the following. That’s really nice from Facebook… 😉
“You can confirm your identity in 1 of 3 ways. When submitting documentation, please cover up any personal information we don’t need to verify your identity (ex: credit card number, Social Security number). We encrypt people’s connections to Facebook by default, including IDs you send to us. We delete your ID information after verification is complete.
We will accept any government-issued ID that contains your name and date of birth. Examples include:
- Birth certificate
- Driver’s license
- Marriage certificate
- Official name change paperwork
- Personal or vehicle insurance Card
- Non-driver’s government ID (ex: disability, SNAP card, national ID Card)
- Green card, residence permit or immigration papers
- Tribal identification or status Card
- Voter ID card
You can provide two different forms of ID from the following list (ex: a bank statement and a library card, but not two bank statements). The names on your IDs must match each other, and one of the IDs must include a photo or date of birth that matches the information on your profile.
Below are some examples of IDs we’ll accept:
- Bank Statement
- Bus card
- Credit Card
- Employment verification
- Library Card
- Magazine subscription stub
- Medical record
- Membership ID (ex: pension card, union membership, work ID, professional ID)
- Paycheck stub
- School Card
- School record
- Social Security Card
- Utility bill
- Yearbook photo (actual scan or photograph of the page in your yearbook)
If you don’t have an ID that shows your authentic name as well as your photo or date of birth, you can provide two forms of ID from Option 2 above, and then provide a government ID that includes a date of birth or photo that matches the information on your profile. We won’t add the name or other information from the government ID to your account.”
Wait and see
I’ve been waiting for 48 hours to get a response from Facebook (some others are reporting 24 hours). In the meantime while trying to log in, I got the following message:
“We’ll take look at the document you submitted and get back to you. If we need more help confirming your name, we’ll reach out for additional documentation.”
Going through the entire process led to the result that my official (Facebook) name is no longer “Gee Are Pabst”, but “GR Pabst”. Facebook asked my if I can accept it. After two days of struggling I frustratedly said “Yes”…
- Have someone you trust, who is knowledgeable about social media and be an admin of your Facebook page(s), too!
- Be aware, that Facebook got all the force, not you!
Finally, I could recover my disabled Facebook account. The entire story demonstrated how mighty Facebook is, and, on the other side, how less powerful a single power is. @Facebook: Don’t forget who made you mighty! It were we, your users! 😉
Stay tuned! 😉