Tuesday, September 6, 2011

FaceBook Death And Resurection

Last Thursday afternoon I tried to open my facebook account only to find a notice saying that it had been discontinued. They had reason to believe I was using a fake name. Duh. If I wanted to hide behind a fake name I wouldn't choose to call myself Midlife Singlemum and  publish my real name right next to it. When I joined FB in January there was no rule, written or implied, that one could not use a pen name. In my case I was using my blog name, openly, in order to publicise the blog. There was a link to click on in order to appeal, which I duly did and explained all the above in the window provided. I received the following reply:

The Facebook Team has received your inquiry.
In an effort to maintain a culture of authenticity on the site, Facebook requires users to provide their real first and last names. Impersonating anyone or anything is prohibited, and fake accounts are a violation of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
Our systems indicated that your account may not be authentic based on a variety of factors.
Please note that the only way we will be able to verify ownership of this account is if you attached a scanned image or digital picture of your government-issued ID (e.g., driver’s license, passport, etc.). This identification must meet all of the following requirements:
- Must be government-issued (e.g. passport, driver's license)
- Must be in color
- Must clearly show your full name, date of birth, and photo
If you did not upload the requested image, please respond to this email with the proper file. If possible, please save this file in JPEG image format. In addition, please black out any personal information that is not needed to verify your identity (e.g., social security number). Rest assured that we will permanently delete your ID from our servers once we have used it to verify the authenticity of your account.
Also note that writing in and submitting your ID multiple times will not result in a faster response. We reply to each request on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you have already uploaded a picture of your government-issued ID, we apologize for any inconvenience you may experience in waiting to have your identity confirmed. We will get back to you as soon as we’ve processed your request.
In the meantime, we encourage you to review our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities for more information:
Thanks for your patience,
The Facebook Team

I absolutely was not going to launch my ID information or passport details into cyberspace (although I'm sure they are there already in some form) so I sent the following reply:

My account has my real name on my profile information, next to the blog name I was using. Can't I simply erase the blog name, if it is no longer allowed, and use my real name that already appears? Or I would prefer to open a new account under my real name rather than upload my ID card, etc...
I look forward to your answer,
Rachel Selby

Here is FB's answer to that suggestion:

Hi Midlife,
It is a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to maintain multiple accounts on the site. We will not be able to reactivate this account for any reason. This decision is final and cannot be appealed.
Thank you for your understanding,
User Operations

I must admit that at this point I didn't have any understanding so, after opening a new account in my real name, I sent the following missive. (Notice how, to show my anger, I omitted to say 'Hi.'):

I have now opened a new account using my real name. NB: I HAVE NEVER EVER HAD MORE THAN ONE ACCOUNT OPERATING - EVER. My new account is and will be exactly the same as my old account with all the same friends, information, etc... It would have been polite to have given  me the option of changing the name that is no longer allowed (especially as it was allowed before you changed the rules) and saving me the bother of re-entering everything. Accusing me of something dodgy and underhand when I was merely using my blog name, was insulting.
Rachel Selby

Meanwhile I got on with the task of re-friending all my friends and picking up some more along the way. Many friends were quick to 'friend' Rachel Selby, whereas they had ignored Midlife, or worse, reported her as spam. Truth be told. it was quite refreshing to start over. There are a few public figures who I haven't had the cheek to request that they be my friend again. And, I've forgotten the surname of the lovely Flora from South Wales so I can't find her (if anyone knows Flora from South Wales... Ta). Then today Tal got back to me:

Hi Rachel,
I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. If you need temporary access to this account, please let me know.
User Operations

Too little, too late. But I'd moved on and I did appreciate that finally a human being had exercised some common sense and shown some initiative. So I replied:

Dear Tal,
You have restored my faith in global online giants, thank you. It turns out that Rachel Selby has more friends than Midlife Singlemum so I am happy to continue with the new account.


  1. maybe not quite ranty enough! I know someone who has a FB account in the name of Spinach Leaves she has not been challenged and I find it shocking that out there in FB world some people believe it to be her given name!

  2. The thing is Debbie, there was only a couple of hours between losing my account and starting a new one. As I said, it was actually quite refreshing to start over so by that time I wasn't so angry. I was disgusted with their customer service but as it didn't inconvenience me too much I let it go - after making my point. An dit worked - Tal got back to me with an apology!

  3. Spinach Leaves isn't a real name? What is the world coming to?

  4. Matthew Kalman? Never heard of it? Is that a name or am I going to have to report you?

  5. It's only going to be a matter of time then before they catch me up as I have a profile page under TheBoy andMe. No way I am giving them my real name and if they close my account then I'm going to be furious as it's the one I use for toyology. They are trying to be like Google+ who don't allow pseudonyms.

  6. Thanks Keren :)

    TheBoyandMe, I wonder if they really are going to get everyone with a pseudonym or if I just had one too many reports of abuse from potential friends who didn't recognise the name? We could always move to G+ - it only took me a few days to reinstate everything...

  7. Seems like just another case of "the computer says no" - righteous indignation and venting are the only way to deal with it - and think of all the new friends you have now.

  8. Ohh a bit worrying, I use Michelle Twin Mum on facebook nowadays, suppose I ought to change it?

    Mich x

  9. Mich, it could be that I'd requested frienship from loads of people who didn't know who it was so they refused, ignored or reported me. If Spinach Leaves is still there then I think you are safe.