Continued from part 1, which gave a bunch of examples and described Facebook’s automated filters. This post has two main sections: What to do when you start getting warnings and What to do if your account gets deactivated.
Cross-posted on the Wired How-To Wiki.
What to do when you start getting warnings
First things first
Pour yourself a drink or your favorite beverage — caffeinated, alcoholic, or otherwise — and toast joining the club!
And then …
- take a snapshot of the screen using PrintScreen (on Windows) or Grab (on the Mac)
- change your status to let people know that you’re getting warnings
- save a copy of your feed (using File/Save Page As in your browser) and any recent posts to your local disk as HTML files
- make a backup copy of any information on your Facebook that you absolutely need to be able to get to, just in case
- copy your friends’ contact info if you’re likely to need them in the short term
- update your notifications to forward all messages as email — and make sure your email contact info for this is right.
Contact Facebook support
Facebook does have a system to submit help requests . Explain what you were doing and why, and ask them to remove the warning.
It probably won’t help in the short term — Eric’s experience of being told “too bad ” is typical — but at least it puts them on notice.
We’re still working on the best way to do this — a page on this wiki, or somewhere else? Work with Chilling Effects (http://chillingeffects.org)? Does it make sense to start a group on Facebook? Stay tuned!
For now, if things like this have happened to you, please add a link or a quick description as a comment here.
Wait, and experience chilling effects first-hand
Warnings appear to get lifted after four hours to two days. You can still do things during this time; changing status, posting items, sending messages that don’t have links or duplicate text (although it’s nervewracking, seeing that warning each time), using applications.
One of the things you’ll probably notice, though, is that you’re thinking a lot more about what you say before you say it, and there are some things you won’t say. That’s what they mean by chilling effects .
Hang out somewhere else for a while
Facebook isn’t the only social network site out there. Rather than getting slapped in the face with a warning message every time you do anything, now might be a good time to explore places that are more friendly to free speech.
What to do if your account gets deactivated
Different things have worked for different people:
- John blogged about Derek Blackadder and then started a Facebook group Free the Blackadder One , which currently has over 3100 members
- Joanna contacted a friend of hers at Facebook , and her Facebook friends contacted Facebook on her behalf
- Munya “emailed FB and told them it was hacked and someone else did it…. AN HOUR LATER I GOT MY ACCOUNT BACK.“
- AJ reported it to Facebook support at email@example.com, and after about 30 hours got mail back saying “after reviewing your situation, we have reactivated your account, and you should now be able to log in” (although also warning that “further violations of our Terms will result in your account being permanently disabled”)
While the specifics vary, there are a few general principles.
Report it to Facebook support
Facebook has a special email alias for situations like this: firstname.lastname@example.org … so take advantage of it! Explain what you were doing and why. Be polite, but let them know how upset you are — and how much their actions are damaging you.
Try to find a real person to talk to at Facebook
Most activists have found that Facebook employees are very helpful in situations like this — and no surprise: from their site’s perspective, they don’t want to be chasing users away! So do your best to find somebody there: ask your friends if they know anybody, post about it in discussion groups and ask for connections, and so on.
Find another online home
Even once you get your account restored, you may discover that Facebook no longer feels like such a pleasant place. It’s no fun feeling like you’re living on sufferance, with your account — and all your contacts — subject to vaporization at any time. So now’s a good time to start preparing other homes for yourself around the web: ideally in addition to Facebook, and in the worst case as a backup.
- find out what other social networks your Facebook friends are on. Join them and give it a try. Even if you decide you don’t like it, you’ve now got backup connections with your friends in case your Facebook privileges are once again revoked.
- try out one or two of the zillions of cool new social networking technologies that you usually don’t have time for.
- start up a blog or journal. No, it’s not at all the same as Facebook; but as long as you choose the right host, you’re less likely to be censored.
Make some noise
As well as the examples above, others (for example, Jon Swift and Robert Scoble) whose Facebook accounts have been suspended for different reasons have also been successful at enlisting the blogosphere and getting reinstated. Facebook also changed their position as a result of the MoveOn-endorsed Facebook, stop invading my privacy! petition, and is currently introducing some good behavior requirements on applications in response to the 600,000+ member Official Facebook Petition: To ban the inviting of friends on Applications. Okay, maybe you don’t have a quite that many friends yourself … but collective action of any kind starts with just a few people.
A few ideas:
- ask your Facebook friends to contact Facebook on your behalf.
- ask people to mention the situation in any political groups you’re in on Facebook; see who else it’s happened to.
- add comments to threads in the blogosphere which discuss this subject — here, and elsewhere.
- mention it on other social network sites; people may well have similar experiences and good suggestions — and connections.
- ask people to blog about it — and link the blog entries to this page.
- ask Facebookers to bring it up in the Free the Blackadder One group and/or the Protect Internet Rights cause, where people care about issues like this.
- try to get some press.