Ok…that may be a little over the top but it got your attention. Truthfully, I’m confident that the vast majority of the folks who work at Facebook are good people but a recent exchange between my wife and Facebook gave me significant pause for thought.
On Tuesday of this week, my wife discovered that her Facebook account had been deactivated. Facebook didn’t send her an email or any sort of notification that they were deactivating her account — they just turned it off.
Now, my wife uses Facebook like the vast majority of its 500M members – to keep up with the lives/daily activities of her current and old friends as well as family members. She is not a hacker; she’s just a mom and my wife for more than 30 years.
After seeing that her account had been deactivated, she sent a request into Facebook Support certain it was some minor glitch and all would be restored and the universe would continue on as normal.
However, the next morning she looked in her inbox and to her surprise, she had received the following email:
Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 1:43 AM
Subject: Re: My Personal Profile was Disabled
Fake accounts are a violation of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Facebook requires users to provide their real first and last names. Impersonating anyone or anything is prohibited, as is maintaining multiple profiles on the site. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reactivate this account for any reason. This decision is final.
Thanks for your understanding,
The Facebook Team
My wife uses her real first and last name on Facebook. Her email account is real, it is active, and she responds to messages sent to her. She is not impersonating anyone. She doesn’t have multiple accounts. She doesn’t have a name that is associated with any celebrity. She’s just a normal person, doing normal things on Facebook. She has friends, she makes comments and she posts photos (all normal photos — dogs, kids, you know… your basic family type stuff.)
Suddenly, she is cut off from her friends/family/photos, she’s been accused of something she hasn’t done, and, apparently she has no recourse. The only communication she is sent is a sterile boilerplate email from Facebook saying that they will not “be able to reactivate this account for any reason. This decision is final.”
Holy #$%^. Is this any way for any one/person/company to treat a mom/wife/good person?
Then, just as sudden as it was deactivated, her account was mysteriously reactivated. No explanation why. No reason. No apology. Nothing.
This all got me thinking.
Facebook just launched its supposed “gmail killer” – Facebook email accounts. What if someone were to start using a Facebook email account and suddenly it was turned off for any reason or no reason? Without recourse. Poof…gone. And, no human to interact with to rectify the problem.
Email is a “mission critical” application for me and for most people who use it. Not having access to your email account to be able to send/receive email and review old email as needed could be extremely disruptive; at the very least it would be highly annoying.
If Facebook makes a mistake with email, as they did with my wife and her regular Facebook account, and uses the same non-communicative “it’s final” approach to resolving the issue, how would I, or anyone else, feel about that?
I realize that people are using Facebook for more and more online activities (e.g. video, chat, etc.). However, has Facebook really earned the right – our trust – to provide these services?
Yes, I know that Facebook is “free” — sort of…if you don’t pay attention to the ads/games/etc. that all enable Facebook to make money instead of you/me paying a subscription fee. The question I have is: how free is it, really?
I’ve decided that based upon this little incident with my wife that I’m not giving Facebook any more access to my life until it proves it can handle what it currently has – appropriately and effectively. It may be convenient to put our entire digital/online lives into Facebook but I would strongly suggest we avoid that temptation.
That’s too much power and as history has shown “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
BREAKING NEWS: Facebook just sent my wife a sterile boilerplate email apology for deactivating her account. Still no explanation. My comments stand.