Social media has become a very crucial tool for networking, particularly in the media for posting news, but what happens when social media becomes inhibiting in the social network?
In the excitement about the opening day of early access to J.K. Rowling's Pottermore website on Monday, I wrote a humor column, or tried to, about . Pottermore has generated buzz in not only the Farmington Valley, but also around the world. It is common practice for web journalists and bloggers to post links to their articles on Facebook and Twitter, as well as relevant Facebook pages so that articles reach a wider audience.
On Tuesday, I did a search on Facebook for Pottermore pages, posting the following message on at least 10 pages that have a public wall: "Has anyone from Connecticut been able to log on Pottermore yet? Yesterday was the first day for Day 1 entrants. Email Jessie.Sawyer@patch.com to share your experience if you have gotten in. http://patch.com/A-lhk2." The link led to my column, "Five Pottermore Early Access Wait Coping Tips."
Mid-post on one of the pages, I was redirected to the Facebook log-in page. When I logged in again, a message popped up stating that my access to posting on Facebook page walls was to be blocked for 15 days because my account was allegedly posting spam and irrelevant content on other pages. The message carried a warning that further abuse could warrant my account being permanently removed. The links were also taken down from the other Facebook pages.
My first thought was concern that I would not be able to post on the Avon Patch Facebook page, but soon found that the block luckily only applied to posting on Facebook pages for which I was not an administrator.
Later in the day, I tried to post on a coworker's Facebook page to congratulate him for his one-year anniversary with the company, not out of defiance because I honestly forgot. A message popped up reminding me that access was blocked for 15 days because my account was making "too many spammy and irrelevant posts."
I Facebooked (I don't think this verb has made it into Merriam-Webster, but it has become part of my generation's vernacular) an acquaintance of mine Tuesday who works for Facebook about my problem after I was not able to find a contact to reach out to about the issue (unfortunately, searching Facebook's help pages does not help when you have your account in Spanish in attempt to practice the language). He immediately wrote back to me and forwarded my message to Facebook's corrections team and said I should expect an e-mail from them.
The e-mail did not come until Wednesday. A woman named Tia, no last name given, from the user operations team wrote that "Facebook has limits in place to prevent behavior that other users may find annoying or abusive. These limits restrict the rate at which you can use certain features on the site."
The e-mail further stated that "unfortunately, we cannot provide you with the specific rates that have been deemed abusive." That troubled me because it would seem only fair that people blocked should know why they are blocked.
The Facebook representative gave me further advice about "what to keep in mind" if blocked from a Facebook feature, stating "this temporary block will last anywhere from a few hours to a few days." Wait, I thought it was 15 days. Anyways, here's what she wrote:
- "Attempting to use this feature while you are blocked can extend the block."
- "We cannot lift this block for any reason, so please be patient and refrain from using this feature for a few days while waiting for this block to be removed."
- "Once you are allowed to use this feature again, you must significantly slow down or stop this behavior. Further misuse of site features may result in more blocks or your account being permanently disabled."
I looked to see if there was a limit to how many times you could post successively, or one link even, as I suspected that posting the same link and message over 10 times in a row on different pages was the reason a flag went up on Facebook's end. There was no restriction listed.
I do understand why Facebook has limits and every website does need to monitor the content posted on it closely. I'm not faulting them for that, but Facebook's refusal to reverse a feature block mistakenly enforced for accounts that are following the rules does not seem right. The request to "significantly slow down or stop this behavior" once my ability to post on Facebook is restored also was not helpful because I still have not been notified what was wrong about my Facebook activity.
Tia responded Thursday, again stating that "this temporary block cannot be lifted for any reason" and reminding me that misuse of the Facebook page wall feature could result in the being blocked again or my account being removed. She also sent me a link to the conditions of blocks.
Other Similar Cases
I am not normally one to complain, but the reason for me to even bring this issue up is that I am not the only one experiencing this.
, editor of Hamden Patch, wrote a column this morning about how for 15 days for supposed "spamming." She wrote that it is common practice for rescues to do this to increase the chance that the pets will find a home.
The rescue employees that Ramunni interviewed also posted a lot in a short time frame on other Facebook pages prior to their suspension.
Animal activists drafted a petition asking Facebook to reverse the block. The petition had 6,000 signatures by Wednesday night. A page on Facebook for the cause called "Don't Suspend Our Animal Rescue Accounts," had up to 11,000 members as of Wednesday evening.
I would post a link to this column on their Facebook page to let them know I'm experiencing the same problem, but I'm forbidden.
Carol Schatz of Angel Paw Animal Advocacy told Hamden Patch that she knows of 140 accounts suspended recently for the same reason, 60 of which were animal rescues.
As a result of the Facebook suspensions, many animal rescues are switching over to Google+ for their social networking as they try to find homes for animals, Judi Falbo of Helping Connecticut Canines told Hamden Patch.
"We are all still awaiting some word from the powers that be at Facebook," she told Hamden Patch, "as we don't know for sure what we are doing or what we did wrong."
Me neither, Judi. I guess I will be waiting for more than my early access to Pottermore in August, ironically, as I count down the days until Aug. 31 when my access for posting to Facebook pages will be restored.
In the meantime, I can still post on the Avon Patch Facebook page, so I will continue to share any Avon news updates with my Facebook readers.