Earlier this year I discovered I was banned from Facebook, in this blog I will detail about it and how Facebook doesn’t do anything to validate ban reasons, as well as what I found out about how they check and how their name policy is discriminatory, as well as how the Dutch Watchdog regarding Privacy handled. This is so I got it all coherent together. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
NOTE: I didn’t add most of my own emails to this as I am somewhat embarrassed by how I replied and after reading through them realized I should be less angry in such emails and more professional in writing them. I regret how I acted. Even though the reason of the ban was unjust I shouldn’t have lost my temper during that time. After all, it’s much better to stay professional, as this is a legal matter, I learnt from that hence I am moving on from that behavior and rather use it as a learning point moreso.
Quite some years ago I had an account on Facebook under my deadname, which I disabled for the usual reasons, afterwards I had no Facebook account for quite some time. I did make a new one a while later under the identity Procyon lotor (On Facebook: Procyon Lotor, as they forbid lowercase characters at the start of a name), this was the scientific name for the Raccoon, and the name was accepted by Facebook. My new account i created under my new name later, however while being accepted at first, was banned sometime after multiple wrong logins (really wasn’t able to be logged in by anyone due to the random password), anyway, I tried logging in myself but used an old password and noticed I was banned beforehand. The reason wasn’t the wrong logins, however, they stated I violated community guidelines. Anytime I tried to contact them or access the help section I got either no reply or was unable to access it.
After some time I saw they require “legal names”, however nobody on Facebook uses their own legal name, not even Mark Zuckerberg, mind you. After this, I contacted Facebook that I wanted all my data, they didn’t comply with my request. I was a bit worked up, and I now know that I should have acted more professionally. Either way, I didn’t know how it worked, so I ended up not waiting long enough and sent information to the Dutch Privacy Watchdog too soon. This resulted in that they wouldn’t take action after I waited for months. However before that happened I noticed something else, which I will now explain.
Facebook did only send automated emails regarding bans or access requests. You couldn’t do anything about that. I could also not access the help page as they renewed that. When I tried making a new account, I got blocked for a bit, I had to enter a phone number (the name and email address were picked up by the filter). After entering my phone number, I got another page, where I had to upload a photo. This I did to see what would happen, I noticed that after uploading a photo, they apparently likely compared them with selfies of when I was eg under 16 and then banned the new account as well. This I realized as no other account has photos on them. Or they compare them with Instagram and Whatsapp photos, which is also a possibility. This I found kind of iffy, as this would mean they either store data for a much longer period than necessary or they use data of their other services, which means this could also be used for eg other reasons in a lot of countries. Say if Facebook gets a police or federal warrant to check people whether or not they are the same person, combined with bias in machine learning, I found this really iffy.
I didn’t take screenshots of this, however if you do have a similar experience and do have screenshots, please send them to me on Twitter, which is linked all over this blog, and I will link them. The photo used for the banner of this post is a reaction I got from Facebook. As I just noticed multiple things, I have written this article with the edits to reflect those.