Facebook or Facelessbook?

March 23, 2012 by David Singer
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Can anyone out there tell me how I can have direct on-line contact with a real live person at Facebook – not just some anonymous message that is flashed on my screen?…asks David Singer. I need your help urgently to find such a person in an effort to discuss and resolve issues which have arisen between myself and Facebook.

My problems revolve around a Facebook Group I created called  “Help Restore UNESCO’S Funding” – whose objective is clearly stated in the following terms:

“Pledged to calling for UNESCO to seek an advisory opinion on the legality of Palestine’s admission to UNESCO – which if reversed would immediately enable America to resume funding 22% of UNESCO’s budget.”

The Group’s objective was to engender support for UNESCO approaching the International Court of Justice to obtain judicial confirmation on the legality of UNESCO’s decision to admit Palestine as its 195th member state. I had started the Group after UNESCO had refused to even discuss the merits of a legal opinion I had furnished.

If UNESCO’s decision was found by the Court to be in breach of UNESCO‘S Constitution – this would result in America resuming payment of its financial dues to UNESCO  – totalling about $260 million until 2013  – thereby avoiding UNESCO cutting its aid to scores of millions of people world-wide in programs such as literacy, gender equality and water purification.

I received some complaints directly on the Group page from people asking that their names be removed as members and questioning how they had become members. To the best of my knowledge these complaints were from people who had already agreed to become my Friends on my own face book page. I had then joined them as members of the Group – as was permissible and appeared to be encouraged by Facebook.

On receiving these complaints those objectors were advised of the procedure to enable them to remove their names as members of the Group.

In addition I had been sending out Friend Requests to people who were members of other Groups – of which I was also a member and a frequent on-line contributor. Many of these people became my Friends and I joined them to the Group page as well – without any objection from them.

Apparently my actions incurred the wrath of Facebook following complaints received by it.

I  began to receive a number of  automatic messages from Facebook stating that I was sending Friend Requests to people I did not know – affording me the opportunity to respond. I explained what I had done.  An automatic response in acknowledgement was the only reply received in each case.

Believing my explanation had been accepted I continued to approach members in those other Groups of which they and I were members – asking them to become my Friends.

I then received an automatic message telling me that I had sent out Friend Requests to people I did not know – and that I would not be able to send out Friend Requests for seven days. I was also advised in the message that if I thought I was seeing the message by mistake – to let Facebook know.

A response in explanation was duly sent by me setting out what I had been doing.

Again – believing my argument had been accepted I resumed my approaches and – lo and behold – I received another  automatic message advising me that I could not make Friend Requests for 14 days!!

Worse was still to come.

When I tried to send a message to someone about the difficulty I was having in accessing a web site – I received another automatic message stating that my messages had been blocked temporarily to prevent sending spam. I was directed to the automated Help Center – which I suspected would only lead to another automated response.

My capacity to send messages to anyone on Facebook – unrelated to my Group page – had now been arbitrarily blocked for an indefinite period – without affording me any opportunity to respond before such action was taken.

Oh and if you think that was the end – more was yet to come.

Facebook actually notified me by “no-reply emails” that some people had requested to join my Group – people to whom I had not sent a Friend Request.

When I endeavoured to sign them up – their names had disappeared off the radar. They remain unable to become members.

Undeterred – I did send off a complaint to the “no reply” e mail address and of course – as you might guess – I have received no reply.

Just to round off this confrontation – I now find I have been removed as a member of one of the Groups and the name of that Group has been removed from my Facebook page. This has been done without any notification to me.

When I tried to message the Administrator of the Group to find out what had happened – I was notified by another flashing message that I had been blocked because multiple people to whom I had sent Friend Requests indicated they did not know me.

I can understand that this very powerful social media site can do as it likes in the way it manages its affairs. But what they are doing seems to me to be a denial of natural justice – of the right to be given a fair hearing and a reasoned judgment after hearing all the facts.

I only hope that being the nerd I am – I have somehow missed a contact address of a real person at Facebook with whom I can correspond to try and sort out these issues.

If this is not possible – then my Group page has become effectively impacted in recruiting new members and my capacity to message anyone on Facebook has been frozen for I do not know how long

Has anyone else had similar problems making personal contact with a human being at Facebook when they have issues that need to be  resolved through face to face contact?

Discouraging communication and arbitrary decision making  seems to be the complete opposite of what Facebook is all about – or should be about.

This is hardly a way to win Friends and influence people.

So my plea is – can anyone out there put a face to Facebook to help me resolve my run-in?

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network


5 Responses to “Facebook or Facelessbook?”
  1. david says:

    To Debbi:

    Seems as though Facebook has the real problem of which I and you are symptoms. Your experience seems horrendous. If it can’t be solved do you know how you can get Facebook out of your daughter’s life if there is no one to speak to in that organisation?

    To Lynne:

    You are one of the few who have not succumbed to this temptation. Good on you.

    To Sue:

    Thanks for the depressing news.How does Facebook manage to get away with this kind of conduct?

    I am loath to simply throw in the towel because there is a form of censorship being arbitrarily imposed on me without giving me the opportunity to speak to anyone to whom I can complain. I mean – banning me from sending any messages to anyone for an indefinite period is to me a serious matter. It is the only way as far as I know to communicate privately with anyone on Facebook. It makes all the rules regarding the right to lodge complaints against the media a real joke.

    Australia has just had an inquiry into the media. Perhaps the Prime Minister should seek to have it reconvene to consider whether Facebook can be regulated in Australia to force it to have a public face to deal with complaints – if what has happened to me is commonplace as you seem to suggest.

  2. Sue says:

    Hi David.

    Facebook itself is faceless. There is no help or support from Facebook as such. There are user forums where you can raise your complaints for discussion. You’ll probably get sympathy but of course no change in your situation, as users have no power.

    Good luck!

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    I’m somewhat concerned about the mysteries of Facebook. I haven’t joined, or participated, ever. And yet I keep receiving an invitation to join my friend, which it says he requested, giving his name and details of him as an artist. I ignore this, but on checking with him, find he’s never had anything to do with Facebook and no request was ever issued.
    It’s a different problem, I know. But still shows that one is at the mercy of the system, and unable to fully access aspects of it. I don’t trust it.

  4. Lynne Newington says:

    Poor David, if you have a problem with this, I’m glad I’m not a facebook participant.

  5. debbi says:

    1. I get invited to join all sorts of groups by my friends… and I usually decline to join. So why couldn’t these people decline when they received the invitation from you to join?
    2. We had a similar situation where we tried to contact an actual person at Facebook to discuss security issues with a fake facebook page being set up for our daughter by one of her friends… 2 years later, and we still haven’t had the issue resolved and the fake page, with a profile pic etc. is all still there.

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