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lessons-learned

Let me tell you the story about how I got banned by Facebook, and how instead of crushing me it ended up confirming one of my deepest convictions.

One of the features I use the most on Facebook isn’t the News Feed, nor is it the Chat function, nor Pages. All of those have their use, but it’s not primarily why I use the popular platform.

It’s Groups.

My opinion is that Facebook Groups are where some of the most valuable interactions occur. Furthermore, the fact that Facebook shuffles Group post’s reach in between the cat photos, the prank videos, and all the other crazy stuff your friends share, makes Group posts visibility quite good for the members within. This is why I admin at least 4 different active Groups, and participate heavily in quite a few others.

Imagine my dismay last night when I noticed that I was banned by Facebook from commenting within Groups.

Banned.

alex banned by facebook

The error message only said that I had repeating the same action too many times. What action? Commenting? Isn’t that supposed to be what Groups are all about? What the heck! How does that make you deserve to get banned by Facebook?!

Somewhat out of frustration — but also with the double purpose of informing my friends and calling out my detractors — I posted this to my Profile, public settings:

So apparently, someone reported one of my comments in one of the many Facebook Groups I participate in, and now I’m banned by Facebook from commenting in Groups. Yep, even Groups in which I’m an Admin. I can still post, I just can’t comment. Being that Groups are 80% of what I use Facebook for, this is extremely annoying.

If they reported me by accident (hard to believe, but possible), it’s the stupidest ban ever. There’s no information on what the “offending” post was, how long I’ll be banned for, nothing. I’m in the dark. Furthermore, as I said, I can still *post* in those Groups. It’s the equivalent of letting someone into a networking group, putting duct tape on their mouth while they’re on the floor, but letting them speak into a microphone on stage. Absolutely dumb.

On the other hand, if someone reported me on purpose (and I have my suspicions on who they might be), it’s one of the most cowardly acts performed against me. If you’re reading this, why wouldn’t you approach me directly on anything that’s bothering you? Because you’re afraid, that’s why.

I can’t imagine anything I’ve said recently that would be controversial, but even if it is, using tools meant to moderate — however stupid they may be — to cowardly attack and silence someone just because you don’t like them is one of the most sorry displays of wickedness I can imagine.

If you’re in any of the many Groups I participate in, please know that my silence has been forced upon me, and if you see anyone asking why I don’t respond to something, please be a friend and explain the situation. Thanks.

While I can’t really affirm it with absolute evidence, after doing some research online with similar cases from other people, everything points towards the second possibility: I got banned by Facebook because someone just got sick and tired of me, and decided to report one of my comments as spam.

banned by facebook

I don’t really subscribe to the notion that one should look to be controversial to gain quick notoriety online. I know it’s a great way to get more followers, just not the kind of followers I really look to connect with. My authentic personality is pretty tame and diplomatic, and most of my activity online shows just that. So I had to wonder: What the heck did I do recently to tick someone off, to the point that they would try to silence me by marking me as a spammer?!

The only reason for getting banned by Facebook I could come up with is so ridiculous to imagine, so crazy, that it just might be true.

People got ticked off because I recently shared a few of my client’s success stories after working with me.

That’s what’s controversial. Yup, that’s it.

That’s all I had to do to get banned by Facebook.

Seriously, I wasn’t sharing the infamous hoax privacy declaration, nor suspicious links, nor anything of the sort. I just shared a few cool websites we at YMMY completed for some of our happy clients.

Now I know I’m not “supposed” to do many things in life, so I understand it gets pretty uncomfortable for a few poor souls when a guy like me can claim that he’s figured out the formula to make businesses sizzle online. Some people seem to get nasty when they find out that what I do actually makes my clients money, while they suffer the pains of their businesses being nothing more than a grudge expense.

Cowardly censoring is the only recourse for these sad people. They could work hard and produce outstandingly fantastic work, so much that they can dare to charge more than their competitors. But no, that would just be too much hard work. It’s easier to try and shoot the guys that are working hard. Get ’em banned by Facebook, and they suddenly feel a whole lot better, or so it seems.

What was amazing was the outpouring of support by friends, clients, and colleagues when they heard about what happened. As I write this, my post where I vented a bit has about 40 comments. I won’t post them all, but a few of the sweetest ones were:

_2__Alex_Rodriguez_-_So_apparently__someone_reported_one_of_my___

_3__Alex_Rodriguez_-_So_apparently__someone_reported_one_of_my___

KPI_Program_USA_-_Private_Forum

 Lessons learned from getting banned by Facebook

I did get the ability to comment again after waiting close to 24 hours. I’m still not sure if it was because I reported the error through their internal tool, because I tweeted them about the issue, or because I just waited it out. A few people have told me that they’ve gotten their account back after days of waiting, so maybe I should feel fortunate about it not being as severe in my case.

So what did I learn from getting temporarily banned by Facebook?

I learned that being proud of your work can make people act in very nasty ways.

I learned that people will use tools meant to prevent people from abusing a medium, with the intention to abuse and trample on other people.

But above all, I learned that it’s going to take a whole lot more than cowardly getting me banned by Facebook to stop me from giving the best to my clients, to stop me from talking about it, and from authentically seeking to help anyone and everyone around me.

If that’s all it takes to get me censored… so be it.

Have you ever gotten banned by Facebook? What did you learn from the experience?

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