I am the founder and administrator of about a dozen FB groups. One has nearly 600 members. One has 34 members. Most have somewhere between those numbers.
My main work in running the groups is posting interesting material, approving or rejecting prospective members, answering questions and acting as referee.
Most of the group members are very well-behaved, but sometimes there are trouble-making trolls who must be ejected.
I did exactly that on Thursday, August 13th. Group members supported my decision and the troll soon disappeared -- not just from my group, but from all of Facebook. I thought that was the end of it, but no.
On Saturday morning I was unable to use Facebook and I got a series of useless and infuriating messages. The posting quoted below was NOT posted by me. It is NOT written in my writing style. It was apparently written in response to my post about ejecting a troll from the group.
Then came the trouble. I was blocked from all access to FB for 24 hours, and then blocked from posting for 24 more hours.
I'm not one of the archetypal Facebook members who post reports of Elvis sightings and cute cat photos all day long. I readily admit that despite having a dog, not a cat, some of my postings are less-than-serious:
However, my wife recently had a serious brain injury and has been hospitalized for nearly two months, and I was diagnosed with unexpected heart trouble. Many friends and relatives expect periodic medical reports, and when I am silent, they may suspect the worst. Others merely rely on me for news and entertainment.
Because of the blackout I was unable to wish my sister, and nephew and niece, happy anniversaries, to respond to business questions, and to partake in the other normal social media activities that are part of 21st century life. I also could not perform my duties as a group administrator.
I was even blocked from using my Facebook 'credentials' to leave comments on such websites as NPR.com.
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There was a phony and dangerous petition aimed at having me put on the Connecticut registry of sex offenders. The petition was signed by a non-existent Mike Josephs and signed by seven non-existent supporters, and two real human beings who were scammed into supporting the cause.
'People' signing the petition called for my caging, castration and killing; and my Facebook friends were notified of the petition.
I complained to Facebook immediately--and frequently--pointing out that false identities were used in violation of Facebook policy, as well as copyright violation, libel, lies and calls for violence.
In 2010 Facebook took more than a month to remove the false statements about me--but Facebook's reaction last week for words I did not write was instantaneous.
The "Help Center" provided no help at all and there was no accessible email address or phone number to use to obtain help.
Facebook employs a robotic cop, witness, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. They function without human intervention.
We all know that sometimes technology goes amok -- and I think that Facebook has an obligation to provide intelligent, knowledgeable, empowered and compassionate human beings to intercede when the company's technology causes trouble.
Facebook has produced a desirable and useful service that generates billions of dollars in income each year, but it must provide suitable help when members (customers, actually) have trouble.
It used to be hard to speak to a human being at Amazon.com when there was a problem with an order, a book review, anything. The company still does not put its customer service phone number in bold type at the top of each page, but the number (1.866.216.1071) can be found and there's a link to request a quick call-back.
Facebook should do the same, or more.
(above) The book I wrote about my 2010 online ordeal.
Terminator image from FanPop.com. Thanks.