Imagine you are chatting with a friend on facebook and your oven timer goes off. So you type those familiar initials “brb” to tell the person on chat that you will “be right back”. You turn the oven off, eat your dinner, and settle again in front of the computer to realize facebook logged you out while you were gone. When you try to log back in, you get a message telling you to upload your driver’s license to verify your identity. You send, and send, and send your driver’s license, but nothing happens. During this carousel ride, they ask you to validate your email address over and over. Suddenly the realization begins to set in that your life has changed in a second. Thousands of contacts, friends, photographs, saved messages, notes, and years of your life simply disappeared because someone at facebook doesn’t like what you have to say. So you file a report with Facebook security, but they ignore you. You go online and, get their phone number and call them, only to hear the impersonal voice tell you, “Sorry, we don’t offer support.”
Facebook has been guilty of deleting people’s accounts without warning or provocation many times. This happened last night to Lady Patriot, Julia Sieben. She was chatting with a friend about an article they were planning to write when she walked away. She came back to find all her valuable data had been stolen. Friends reported that her page was no longer available. Facebook replaced her comments in their chat with a box that said, “This message is no longer available because it was identified as abusive or marked as spam.” Her avatar was gone along with everything she had been working on for years.
When we told facebook followers what happened, quite a few of them reported having the same experience. One minute their account was there, and then it was gone. Why does facebook do this? How do they get away with it? For quite awhile they have radically censored what people can and cannot post on their wall or page. It appears conservatives activists are the targets for this censorship. It’s a joke among conservatives who find themselves in “facebook jail” for all sorts of reasons.
We all know most sites will ban you for vulgar language, so it just makes sense that facebook wouldn’t tolerate people using the “f bomb”. As painful as it was, I typed that word into facebook’s search bar, and there were so many pages with that word in the title that I finally gave up trying to count them. Let’s just say that they haven’t banned any of them even if they had sensual photographs on them that bordered on porn. I didn’t need to check any other words because I figured if facebook allowed that one then nothing is forbidden. Well, almost nothing.
Using a person’s name when you respond to them in a post will get you banned for a week. Yes, a whole week for following the rules of polite conversation, and using the name of the person you are addressing can keep you from posting on any walls, including your own. That happened to a friend of mine. You can also get banned from posting anything for 15 days if you post the same link on too many conservative pages. One woman told me that she sent a friend a Christmas picture of the back of a man wearing nothing but angel wings and snow boots that was making the rounds on the internet. Facebook banned her friend for three days because she sent him the picture. And who hasn’t been banned for a week for sending too many friend requests to people they don’t personally know? I have five days left on my own ban. I’m not allowed to send friend requests to anyone or answer any messages from people who are not on my friend list now.
Julia Sieben didn’t get this level of courtesy. She had her entire account snatched away and was never given an explanation. She finally did get another account made, but she lost everything from her first one. They have her on restrictions forcing her to type in a code each time she sends a friend request or makes a post on her wall or that of a friend’s. I caught up with Julia this afternoon, and we had a conversation. I asked her a few questions that I thought I would share with you to maybe keep the same thing from happening to your account.
Dr. Schuetz: Julia, what was the first thing you saw when you returned to your computer?
Julia: I saw that I had been logged out. A message was there telling me to log back in. When I tried, I was told that someone may have accessed my account. They said to secure my account I’d need to answer a few questions, and change my password. There it is in picture 1.
Dr. Schuetz: Yes, I noticed you have some pictures here, can you tell me about them?
Julia: Yes, when I realized what they were doing, I took screenshots of everything they told me to do. I learned a long time ago to get as much information and facts as possible.
Dr. Schuetz: That was smart. So, what happened next?
Julia: It told me to log in through a browser I had used before. Here’s the picture. See, picture 2. They kept telling me that I needed to verify my identity, but they wouldn’t accept the copy of my driver’s license. I kept sending it, but nothing happened. It told me to log in through the browser where I was. Here’s the picture. That’s here in picture 3.
Dr. Schuetz: I see in picture 4 that they are asking for a secure email.
Julia: Yes, I kept putting my email in there, but it wouldn’t take it either.
Dr. Schuetz: This happened on Saturday, June 9th at around 5 PM you said?
Julia: Yes, around then, I’m not certain of the exact time, but It was during dinner.
Dr. Schuetz: Have you heard anything from facebook in the past 24 hours since this happened?
Julia: I finally got through to someone through email.
Dr. Schuetz: Tell us about it.
Julia: Well, last night I got their phone number and called them. A recording said that they don’t have any customer service, but a close friend of mine, Diane Sori, had an email address from someone who works at facebook. See, she was in facebook jail once for 60 days where she couldn’t post anything.
Dr. Schuetz: Sixty-days? What did she do?
Julia: To tell you the truth, she didn’t do anything. She was an admin on a facebook page along with me and several other people. Someone posted an article that had a link in it to a violent video, but it wasn’t her.
Facebook “punished” all of us. Everyone except Diane got punished for two days, but they banned her for sixty.
Dr. Schuetz: Why the difference, especially if she was innocent?
Julia: She is extremely outspoken about her conservative views and they don’t like her. Facebook is extremely liberal, and they love to harass people like Diane, and those of us fighting this war of ideas.
Dr. Schuetz: Do you know why they would come after you? I’ve seen your posts, and your writings, I’ve not seen you post anything that would offend others.
Julia: The only thing I can think of is that one or two of my recent articles I wrote for Lady Patriots might have offended them. After we publish an article at Lady Patriots, we post the links on our facebook page and around facebook through friends etc.
Dr. Schuetz: What was offensive about your articles?
Julia: Well, one of them was called, “Sharia Law versus the U.S. Constitution, No Room Here for a Theocracy!” We posted the other one early yesterday, hours before the police gave out the name of the shooter in California. My article revealed the shooter’s name. I called it, “Jihad in America, or Just Hidden from Media out of Political Correctness”.
Dr. Schuetz: So you think one of these got you in trouble with facebook?
Julia: I don’t really know. I just know that my account was there one minute, and then it was gone. I’ve tried everything I can think of to find out what happened.
Dr. Schuetz: So you were telling me about Diane having an email address. Did you get in touch with facebook through email?
Julia: Yes, finally. It took several emails back and forth, and one of my friends to help get the url of my original page. I sent it to them, and they said it could be 24 to 48 hours before I hear back whether they can recover my account or not.
Dr. Schuetz: So I guess it’s pins and needles waiting then. What are you doing while you wait for facebook?
Julia: I’m writing another article. That’s what we do at Lady Patriots. We write the truth, whether facebook likes it or not. We write the truth.
Facebook thinks they can flex their muscles, bully us, and keep us in line. We need to let people know what facebook is doing, and let them know they don’t have to be victims. True, facebook can meet out their arbitrary punishment for infractions of their nonexistent rules, but we don’t have to lose years of memories like Julia and many others have done. We don’t have to be facebook victims. It only takes a few minutes to backup your facebook account and download it to your computer. I just did mine and my contact list is there with every name. It’s easy to do, and will protect your valuable data like contacts, messages, and photographs. It will keep you from being a facebook victim. Just follow the directions in this photo gallery below, and you can backup your facebook account to your local hard drive. Just click on the image. Backing up our account won’t stop them from bullying conservatives, but it can give us peace of mind and get rid of the threat they hold over our heads until enough of us choose to do something about them.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz is Co-Editor of Lady Patriots and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.