A facebook bug destroying Personal, Social and Startup Life of an Entrepreneur
Years ago, I used to own some facebook pages, on various different topics of interest. Couple of them were “I Hate Being Bored” (http://facebook.com/ihatebeingbored), and I Love Pizzas ( http://www.facebook.com/I.Pizza). The former one has more than 2.1 m fans/likes and the later has got about 600k.
My purpose was to learn social media marketing and engage and understand the users. However, a couple of years ago, I started working on my startups and could not give time or effort to the fan pages. So I decided to give it away to a friend of mine. I moved completely away from the fan pages, not an admin, or do not even follow it. When I get time, I do visit the pages for fun or time pass, and nothing more.
Since then, I have founded a small e-commerce company, Zumali . And more importantly, founded and launched ShoppersOn recently. I believe this can be the next billion dollar company (which entrepreneur does not think that way) . I also co-founded and manage the largest informal startup community of India “Bangalore Startups“. We interact and help each other in the facebook group. It also gives a very informal feeling.
However, this post is not about my life. This background was important to what I am going to say. Now, how facebook is destroying my personal, social and startup life.
About 4-6 months back, all of sudden, I was logged out of facebook and was asked to log-in again. I was surprised. After I logged in, I was re-directed to the community standards guidelines page. It think I skipped some of the messages and kept on clicking okay, continue, next. At that moment, I assumed, FB might have launched something new, or changed his policies, and this was a formality.
The same stuff repeated again in the next hour. I thought why again? Irritated, I repeated the process, but this time I read the messages a bit. It said, I have violated some community guidelines and some other shit. If I say I was surprised, it would be an understatement. I was not sure what was happening. I started thinking, what I had done which could have led to this. I post on my wall (status updates), wish friends b’day but more than these, I am active on the startup groups, Bangalore Startups in particular.
In another hour or so, I got another message. This time, I read the comment for which I was getting these warnings. For sure, I had not posted this comment. I do not remember the comment, but neither do I speak the way it was written, nor do I write in that manner.
So what was happening? I had absolutely no clue. I started checking if my account was hacked/compromised and someone else is posting from my account. I changed my password, and checked my activity list. I could not find anything suspicious in the past 7-10 days.
Next day, I got another message, and this time, I was blocked for 24 hours from posting any updates. It also said, if this continues, my account might be blocked permanently. I was beginning to get worried now. Again, I get another message, this time I was blocked for 3 days. All these happened within 30 hours. Leaving me no clue or understanding of what was happening.
I spent the entire night looking for reasons or solution. I searched all over the web, facebook, twitter, etc to find if anyone else is also facing similar issues. Even after spending a good 10 hours searching, researching and reviewing, I had no answers to what was going on.
As I was blocked from posting on facebook, I tried sending a few messages to my friends, to check if message was working or not. It was working. I also had a chat with my same friend who was now managing the pages. After I told him the story, he started joking. So much shit goes on in his page, with users abusing each other, and they never get blocked. And me, who have not been doing anything, is getting blocked. Fortunately / coincidentally / by sheer luck, I was chatting with him on this topic. I pasted one of the comments, which I had saved. It was only then we realized that all these comments were being done by him as the page admin, in reply to people, who were abusing him or others in the page.
So, now I had found the source of the comments, but was still not sure why I was getting blocked for these comments. The only way I was associated with the fan page was, I used to own it years ago. Now, neither am I the owner, or the admin of the fanpage. This was something beyond our understanding. However, I requested my friend to stay away from posting on the pages for a while. It might be a bug which will get fixed by FB soon.
I also tried to reach out to someone on FB. Previously, I had interacted to someone related to one of the fanpage. I sent an email to the same id again. (pagesvip+<some random 6 alphabets>@support.facebook.com). I also sent emails to info, support, etc. Filed up forms on any and every forms I could find. All to no avail.
I even posted on their support forum (http://www.facebook.com/help/community/question/?id=2200944 ) which is now redirecting to some other page. (yet another bug?)
A couple of weeks back, I again got that dreaded log-in again message. Fearing the worst, I logged in to find, I was now blocked for 7 days. My friend has stayed away from the page for so many days. However, the page was losing traction and momentum so he started posting again. And unfortunately, all the comments(which got me the block) were actually mild insults which is used quite commonly in the west. Most of them were actually sarcastic comments.
Now 7 days is a lot. The 3 day block had actually impacted me a lot. I was unable to promote my then just launched startup, ShoppersOn. I was also not able to post updates and interact with my friends. When I mentioned about the block, many of the friends thought I was doing something wrong. We had planned an event for entrepreneurs for the weekend (part of Bangalore Startups), which had to be postponed due to this unfortunate incident. So, it had started impacting me in all circle of things, personal, social, community and startup. Imagine what 7 days could do!
Quite obviously, I was worried. This time I sent emails to everyone I knew, and also posted a question on Quora (here). I also promoted it thrice to get some response. No luck.
As expected, it impacted a lot of things. I tried to manage it better this time, with offline connections, but still in an age of internet, it does impact a lot. Traction in my startup went to an all time low. Community plans all went haywire. I could not wish Birthday to a lot of my friends, and many started doubting the real reason when I would say I am unable to use FB.
Could it go any worse? Well it just did.
Today, I was blocked again. This time for 1 month. Why? Again for the same reason. My friend posted something which in many countries will be considered as a common slang. BTW, I am not trying to support my friend here.
The point is why the f*** am I getting blocked everytime?
I am so scared to even think, what would happen in this one month.
This facebook bug is destroying my personal life, social circle, community and startup. And I do not know what to do. :(
Can you please help?
P.S.: It appears, this all started from the day facebook started outsourcing their community control. Link here.
P.P.S: FB is a great company and a great website. However, it needs to have a better customer service system in place. The existing one is not working.