Saturday morning, February 26, I woke to discover that Facebook had deemed me a threat to society and had disabled my Facebook page for violating community standards.
I knew I was hacked and I immediately recognized the moment it happened, too. The night before I clicked on a relative’s photo and she hadn’t been on Facebook for awhile, so I was skeptical but attempted to “like” the photo anyway. It wouldn’t take. Instead the photo opened to say the “content was removed.” About 30 minutes later, I received a notification from Facebook that I had two new friends accept my invitations to connect. That was bad because I hadn’t extended any new friend requests. I clicked on the link to see two men who I didn’t know and immediate unfriended them and blocked them. Needless to say, that didn’t help. I must have been too late. The next morning my account was disabled.
At first, I didn’t think much of it. “Oh, it is just Facebook. I don’t use it much.” But then, its slowly dawned on me: I use Facebook for about a dozen groups I use with my business and it also hosts my business page, Cheryl & Son Jewelry Designs. Suddenly I was devastated and panicked. That’s when I went down the “Facebook Disabled My Account” rabbit hole.
The Facebook Rabbit Hole
There is no way to contact Facebook. There is no customer service phone number. I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org with no response. A week later, I discovered that Facebook had charged me for advertising that I didn’t run. Paypal wouldn’t reverse the charge either because they said Facebook had it as an automatic payment. Needless to say, I disabled any and all automatic payments on Paypal (look yours up in your Wallet. You may be surprised to find out how many vendors have you scheduled for automatic payments.) I found I had 50 vendors on my list of automatic payments. Many I recognized such as Starbucks, DoorDash, etc. but others had no business being on my list of auto payments, so I canceled them all. However, of all the 50 on the list, only Facebook had abused this by charging me for something while my account was disabled.
However, there was a bright spot, or so I thought. By charging me for advertising I thought Facebook had cracked open a door to their customer service that would help me out. I found that there were two addresses affiliated with advertising: PayPal.email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org took.com. Sill no answer. I appealed to my Discover card thinking they could get to the bottom of this but fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, Discover promptly refunded my money within 10 minutes.
I direct messaged Facebook on Instagram but received no response. I mentioned my account was hacked and disabled on Instagram and was besieged by numerous con artists looking to make my situation even worse by “recovering” my account. Eventually, I broke down and did hire what I believe to be a legitimate service that came highly recommended called hacked.com and a few weeks in, and I’m still in the process of recovering the account—which they told me upfront would be the situation. I even have two support tickets open with Oculus because you need a Facebook account to run their gaming headset but they say they can open open a support ticket; they can’t follow-up with Facebook.
An All-Too-Common Nightmare
The more I learned about this, the more I understood that this is a very common problem. I realize that Facebook is trying to keep the community safe but they are punishing the victims, not the criminals. I’ve been a Facebook user for probably close to 15 years or more. In all that time, I only shared stories and photos of my dogs and my jewelry. Facebook could easily see that if they took the effort. So while I’m locked out, the criminals are still mining for victims on Facebook unabated. Then problem is so common, on April 1, 2022 the New York Post published a story about a number of accounts that Facebook disabled overnight. It turns out that the accounts were closed due to a computer glitch with many of them being restored later on. I only wish that was my situation. Sad as it seems, my problem is more akin to those written about in this New York Times article, which infers that my situation may never be resolved.
Regardless of what happens going forward, I learned one important lesson: Nothing online is yours. You do not own your Facebook page. They can take it away and all of its content in the blink of an eye. The same thing goes for YouTube and Instagram. I lost a couple hundred local, curated customers. I would communicate with them through my business Facebook page and messaged them through Messenger. I do not have all their emails. I’ve lost contact with them and they have not heard from me and they have no explanation for my absence. If and when I ever do resume my life on Facebook—either with my original business page or a new one, I will keep a list of all my followers and download their contact information if I can.
The thought of starting over seems overwhelming to me at the moment. I’ll give it a little more time before I attempt that but I’m preparing myself for the ordeal.
You’ll be Seeing More of Me but not on Facebook for the Timebeing
In the meantime, it is now been one and a half months since this happened and I’m still recovering mentally and emotionally from the setback. It is a tough pill to swallow when you know all your hard work is gone and it was all beyond your control.
Nevertheless, after 45 days of wallowing in my self pity I feel like I’m back and focusing on what I can control. After neglecting my blog for years, I’m resurrecting it and you’ll see new posts from me going forward—on a regular schedule.
So I’m going to take advice from Dorothy Fields’ lyrics as Jerome Kern’s tune plays in my head, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.”
Now, back to worrying less about Facebook and doing more of what I love: Making Jewelry.