Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Facebook May Disable Your Account too!

If you're a FACEBOOK user who enjoys chatting, snooping at photos and networking, read this important article and avoid having your "Facebook Account Disabled" just for BEING POLITE!

So as many of you may have noticed, I was booted from FACEBOOK last week. Booted, erased, deleted, suspended, whatever you want to call it, I disappeared. I hope my story will save you the same frustration.

Earlier this year I set up a FACEBOOK account. Delighted in how much easier it was to use than Myspace and all the networking opportunities, I loved using it! One day while trying to add another friend I received a notice that I had "Exceeded my friend limit of 5,000 friends" What?? Facebook tells you how many friends you can have???

I quickly went to the "help" option and found several posts from other Facebook users explaining the reasoning behind this unreasonable Facebook rule. How does Facebook get to decide how many friends anyone should have? Really? Who picked 5,000?

Fine. So I follow the advice from users, from link to link of other users in my same predicament and open a "Fan" page which allows you to have an unlimited number of fans. Fine. Not what I wanted to do. I'd stumbled upon other "Fan" pages and thought it seemed so far removed from your actual friends. I've always thought it seemed kind of "removed" and "braggy" to refer to people who like your stuff as fans. We just have something in common, a quest for a better life!

So...I start operating this new "Fan" page, but there's no way to delete the Profile page, without losing all those friends. AND...there's really no way to tell all your "friends" to come and join you on your "Fan" page, except to post it to your wall and try to get the word out. But no one really knows which page to go to if they're a friend of both. Confusing!

In the mean time, each day when I would log into my old Profile page, I would have a couple hundred new friend requests. The only problem was I had no room to add them (unless someone had unfriended me or deleted their own account or whatever). They had to just sit there and be ignored OR I could send a message to each one of them explaining something like the following..

"Hey! Thanks for the friend request. Unfortunately I'm not able to add more than 5,000 friends to this page. So the party has moved! Please join my on my "Fan" page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chalene-Johnson/99499711448?ref=ts Thanks for your support! Chalene Johnson

We'd send out a couple dozen of these messages and we'd receive a waring message from facebook that we were "engaging in behavior that other Facebook user's may find annoying" Really? Replying to a request is annoying? Explaining why I can't add them as a friend is "annoying". Funny... because I think being ignored is annoying! But whatever! So rather quickly we learned that if you only send a couple dozen every couple of hours they seemed to be okay and no warnings would come through. Yet, on some days I could send just a few messages and I'd get the 'stop being annoying' warning. Talk about frustrating. We are talking about trying to explain to people why you can't accept them as friends. I wasn't spamming anyone!! I was replying to people who had sent ME A MESSAGE!! UGG!

So, you guessed it... one too many warnings and BAM... I received the dreaded "Your Account has been Disabled. Please contact us if you have any questions." Which is kind of funny, because you can contact all you want. You can cry! You can beg! You can plead! You can call...but they just don't seem that interested in hearing your story.

I had 4 people in my office working around the clock to investigate and resolve this issue with Facebook as quickly as possible. We sent the following letter to every email address we could find on Facebook:

To whom it may concern:

My Facebook account was abruptly disabled yesterday. I have enjoyed my experience at Facebook as it has allowed me to stay in touch with my friends and people in general who seek guidance and hints
in adapting a healthy lifestyle. In mid April, I reached the maximum number allowed for friends (5,000), yet I continued, on a daily basis, to have inbox filed with hundreds of additional requests to join as a friend”.

After reading your "help" section, I learned that I could create a fan page, which would allow me to have an unlimited number of friends. I did so and began re-directing people to my new "fan" page. Becuase there were so many requests I enlisted the assistance of additional staffers to respond to the friend requests of those who I was unable to add to friends to my "profile" page. As opposed to leaving those messages unanswered in my inbox and friend requests, my staff was asked to send a short message redirecting them to join my fan page. Yesterday, my account was suddenly disabled while my staff was in the process of responding to friend requests.

Facebook has been a tremendous communication tool that has allowed me to stay in close contact with each other on their journey to a better life. I am a legitimate business owner and not a spammer. In fact, I regularly speak to businesses on the value of connecting with customers through the use of Facebook.

In the short amount of time that my account has been disabled (less than a day), I’ve received hundreds of inquiries from customers and friends. There is no explaination offered and many have assumed I "unfriended" them. You can imagine the problems this can cause.

I have always tried to follow all the rules and standards set by Facebook and any violation of them I can assure you has been inadvertent. We were merely sending people a link to my new Facebook fan page. We had been warned to "slow down", but again, this was not defined and every day there were hundreds of friend requests that we did not want to simply ignore. That would have been rude! We even tried on several occasions to contact someone at Facebook to help us disable the Profile page so that only one page would exist, thus eleviating the problem of having two pages for people to find me, one of which doesn't allow more friends. We called, emailed and worked to find a resolution, yet were told there was no way around it.

I would like to point out that this page is my personal page and I used my private email address to register. I read and post all the messages on my page. Please reactivate my account and I can assure you that both my staff and I have be re-read the terms and conditions in order to prevent this from taking place, yet are concerned that because they are so vague, and that what we were doing was so harmless, that this might happen again.

I ask that you review the decision to disable my account and please point out the specific violation so that my staff I can be cognizant of the cause of this event.

Thank you!

Chalene Johnson
CEO Powder Blue Productions

We sent that email to as many addresses as we could find. I had several people on Twitter and through my network indicate that they "knew someone at Facebook" and might be able to help. I asked for all the help I could get and 5 days later, the account was enabled. I have no idea if someone pulled some strings, if 5 days was my penalty, if it was my letter or just the random act of the Facebook Gods. No idea. In the time I stumbled upon over a dozen or more blogs and articles recounting nearly the exact same scenario.

Here's the challenge which still persists. I've been re-activated, but I still have a page that people go to that I can't add them as friends. I still have two pages (confusing) and I still have no idea how many people I can respond to in my inbox before Facebook deems my activity "annoying". Grrrr...

Lesson learned... If you ever hope to connect with more than 5,000 people over the course of the next couple of years, you definitely want to make sure you have set your profile up as a "Fan" page and not a profile. Who really needs 5,000 friends you might ask? That might seem high, but it's not for those of us who are in business, enjoy networking, find passion in connecting and sharing information with others and generally enjoy being a part of a larger community. This has been difficult for me to explain to my Mom, who is a new facebook user. "Chalene, why do I want to add these people as my friends?" She asked when she opened her own account Marge Melvin http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1154701063&ref=ts I had to explain to her that as a Team Beachbody Coach she can meet and help a lot more people on line than she'll ever meet in person living in a remote area of Northern Michigan. She gets it now! I hope that one day my Mom has more than 5,000 friends and I hope that this doesn't happen to her. (Basically I am the I.T department for Marge and Bill) God love 'em!

So in closing... please follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/chalenejohnson And my info there is different than my info on Facebook. On facebook..the only place we can be friends is if you go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chalene-Johnson/99499711448?ref=tsthe Fan Page link....

In the meantime...if anyone knows how to disable your Profile page, but keep your Fan page, and transfer the people on your profile page over to your Fan page and just have one page...Please reply for all!!! I promise to share the info!

Oh...and on a positive note... Man...I can't not believe how much I got done with all my free time during my 5 days down on Facebook. I read more, watched some tv, even discovered that I was married, have two beautiful kids, 4 birds and 4 dogs!