Audio: Another story of someone kicked off Facebook

OK, I keep getting calls from people who get kicked off of Facebook for stuff that they think is normal usage of Facebook. Last week I asked Mark Zuckerberg about it, and he said they only kicked off people who were spamming.

So, today, when Nathan Stebeski called me I asked him “mind if I record you?” I used my iPhone to call BlogTalk Radio and record the call. I was on the freeway and BlogTalk’s new “Cinch” service really rocks for doing stuff like this.

Here’s the result. It’s a 10 minute audio conversation (MP3 file) where we talk about what happened to him and how he got kicked off. Sorry that the audio ends abruptly, but you get the idea by then what’s going on.

Facebook: this is totally nuts. You’re destroying your “utility” because people can’t build businesses on something like this where you live in fear that you might just get kicked off for seemingly minor reasons. With no, or little warning. With no recourse.

I found Nathan to be very believable. How about you? He had a great idea: that Facebook should have a “penalty box” where your account is locked down for a couple of days.

What did he do wrong? He had too many inbound friend requests, he says. How did he get so many? He has a Fashion site and had three Facebook groups that were getting popular. Facebook kicked him off and closed down the groups.

I’m going to ask Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s PR for a response to Nathan’s claims. More on this soon.

60 thoughts on “Audio: Another story of someone kicked off Facebook

  1. Robert,

    FYI, I was thinking about your question from the Dev Garage last week. The feature you were looking for (export to Outlook) existed at one point. When I joined Facebook in late 2004, I exported my contacts to my Apple Address Book because Facebook let me put their data in a CSV file.

    The feature disappeared sometime in 2005. When I recently made an inquiry, they acted as if it had never existed.

    Odd.

  2. Robert,

    FYI, I was thinking about your question from the Dev Garage last week. The feature you were looking for (export to Outlook) existed at one point. When I joined Facebook in late 2004, I exported my contacts to my Apple Address Book because Facebook let me put their data in a CSV file.

    The feature disappeared sometime in 2005. When I recently made an inquiry, they acted as if it had never existed.

    Odd.

  3. Two things: Facebook will carry on, life as normal, this incident or even the traffic from this and linked posts will be read by exactly zero non-geeks who are signing up in droves. They could care less. We won’t see mainstream TV news on the subject (I agree that it’s wrong, and the triggers they use to “detect” “spam” are horrendously stupid).

    Secondly, what about the tons really spammy applications? I got a “You have received a new video from XYZ, click here to view” in my inbox the other day. Clicking the link opened a window where I was prompted to invite 13 of my friends to install the app -before- I could view the video I was sent. Of course, I guess there wasn’t even a video to start with, and had I “invited” the 13 friends, they would also have received a “you have a video from Mike, click here to view”. And this is happening daily, and I see these apps last for days or weeks without any action taken from Facebook. Ah, I get it – ads and pageviews…that’s the difference.

  4. Two things: Facebook will carry on, life as normal, this incident or even the traffic from this and linked posts will be read by exactly zero non-geeks who are signing up in droves. They could care less. We won’t see mainstream TV news on the subject (I agree that it’s wrong, and the triggers they use to “detect” “spam” are horrendously stupid).

    Secondly, what about the tons really spammy applications? I got a “You have received a new video from XYZ, click here to view” in my inbox the other day. Clicking the link opened a window where I was prompted to invite 13 of my friends to install the app -before- I could view the video I was sent. Of course, I guess there wasn’t even a video to start with, and had I “invited” the 13 friends, they would also have received a “you have a video from Mike, click here to view”. And this is happening daily, and I see these apps last for days or weeks without any action taken from Facebook. Ah, I get it – ads and pageviews…that’s the difference.

  5. Hey Robert,

    I remember and in fact still see that very problem on forums a boards when moderators erase posts and threads, it gives no one any boundaries. In real world communities we get great value from seeing the bounds of decency being enforced, it makes us feel more secure, secure in our own actions as much as anything so your so right with that last observation.

    Facebook need to be really smart with this stuff, it could really hurt them to be perceived as having a split personality. On one hand they openly encourage folks to build business’ in Facebook using the platform but, if someone ventures into slightly business like territory with their persona they get swatted.

  6. Hey Robert,

    I remember and in fact still see that very problem on forums a boards when moderators erase posts and threads, it gives no one any boundaries. In real world communities we get great value from seeing the bounds of decency being enforced, it makes us feel more secure, secure in our own actions as much as anything so your so right with that last observation.

    Facebook need to be really smart with this stuff, it could really hurt them to be perceived as having a split personality. On one hand they openly encourage folks to build business’ in Facebook using the platform but, if someone ventures into slightly business like territory with their persona they get swatted.

  7. Justin: and we need a way to look at deleted Facebook accounts to see what their big sin was. That’ll help all of us avoid getting erased.

    All this does, though, is keep me from taking Facebook seriously as a brand.

  8. Justin: and we need a way to look at deleted Facebook accounts to see what their big sin was. That’ll help all of us avoid getting erased.

    All this does, though, is keep me from taking Facebook seriously as a brand.

  9. Interesting, very.

    Now I’m not blaming him but “always be closing” springs to mind listening to Nathan on that interview, he’s very keen on fronting his site and maybe that’s what triggered the facebook lock out. In the way he spoke he has a definite pitch that he sticks to so it’s quite likely that his communications to group members and his message and friend request replies could well have contained the same pitch boiler plate style… Bleep bleep bleep Spam alarm at Facebook HQ, bye bye Nathan?

    Claiming to have no time to orchestrate a spam offensive isn’t the best of defences though, Nathan may want to rethink that line. By his own earlier admission he has time to “run this fantastic fashion site, myownrunway.com which is fantastic and about fashion at myownrunway.com” and enough time to run several groups messaging everyone that joins by the sound of it and replying to 40+ friend requests daily.

    I think facebook needs a sin-bin for sure, suspend access for a few days and take the chill out time to contact recipients of the supposed spam and ask them to rate it for spaminess, let the community, those supposedly affected have their say?

  10. Interesting, very.

    Now I’m not blaming him but “always be closing” springs to mind listening to Nathan on that interview, he’s very keen on fronting his site and maybe that’s what triggered the facebook lock out. In the way he spoke he has a definite pitch that he sticks to so it’s quite likely that his communications to group members and his message and friend request replies could well have contained the same pitch boiler plate style… Bleep bleep bleep Spam alarm at Facebook HQ, bye bye Nathan?

    Claiming to have no time to orchestrate a spam offensive isn’t the best of defences though, Nathan may want to rethink that line. By his own earlier admission he has time to “run this fantastic fashion site, myownrunway.com which is fantastic and about fashion at myownrunway.com” and enough time to run several groups messaging everyone that joins by the sound of it and replying to 40+ friend requests daily.

    I think facebook needs a sin-bin for sure, suspend access for a few days and take the chill out time to contact recipients of the supposed spam and ask them to rate it for spaminess, let the community, those supposedly affected have their say?

  11. Should I tell the story on how they took my camera at their party because I was taking too many photographs after they paid the Eye-Fi guys to come in and snap photos of the VIPs?

  12. Should I tell the story on how they took my camera at their party because I was taking too many photographs after they paid the Eye-Fi guys to come in and snap photos of the VIPs?

  13. Banning people from services has gone completely out of control. Yes, they are private entities and they can do what they want but after being banned by one of the largest commercial players in the online space, where I made 90% of my income and invested years of effort into building that business I wasn’t laughing.

    Long story short: after spending months trying to convince them I really didn’t know how I broke their TOS, and them refusing to tell me how I broke their TOS and simply telling me I’m banned for life I gave up. I opened a new account under an assumed name and carried on my business ever since, in ever present fear of being discovered. It’s been over a year and I’ve made that company over a million dollars, still under an assumed name. They love my new account.

  14. Banning people from services has gone completely out of control. Yes, they are private entities and they can do what they want but after being banned by one of the largest commercial players in the online space, where I made 90% of my income and invested years of effort into building that business I wasn’t laughing.

    Long story short: after spending months trying to convince them I really didn’t know how I broke their TOS, and them refusing to tell me how I broke their TOS and simply telling me I’m banned for life I gave up. I opened a new account under an assumed name and carried on my business ever since, in ever present fear of being discovered. It’s been over a year and I’ve made that company over a million dollars, still under an assumed name. They love my new account.

  15. Robert, can put a link towards the interview and possible the mp3 file itself on our blog as this is important thing for us and we were mentioning similar scenarios to our customers for some time now.

    No need to tell you that your blog, name and proper linking will be in place clearly showing who the author of this interview and this news is…

    Thanks in advance

  16. Robert, can put a link towards the interview and possible the mp3 file itself on our blog as this is important thing for us and we were mentioning similar scenarios to our customers for some time now.

    No need to tell you that your blog, name and proper linking will be in place clearly showing who the author of this interview and this news is…

    Thanks in advance

  17. We need an open-source, distributed, & resilient social network that is NOT controlled by any one entity.

    Why aren’t they getting more space?

  18. We need an open-source, distributed, & resilient social network that is NOT controlled by any one entity.

    Why aren’t they getting more space?

  19. It happened to me at least 6 months ago….

    My bigest problem, is they said I was baned for violating the TOS, however nobody could tell me *what portion* of the TOS I had violated.

    I think I may have gone “poke crazy” one day. Either that or a signature on wall posts, however I don’t post to walls that much.

    Sent one email, then got a wishy washy answer, Then I pushed harder 3 weeks later.

    There was a “final answer” of sorry, can let you back on. But I resent a few more times and got a differant case #, as well as had some friends make a little noise.

    They let me back on, but I don’t know what I even did wrong. My “network” was more important than “having an account”. (note to self… put wife / friend as an admin on my “service page”

    Adam Nollmeyer
    Phoenix AZ Photographer

  20. It happened to me at least 6 months ago….

    My bigest problem, is they said I was baned for violating the TOS, however nobody could tell me *what portion* of the TOS I had violated.

    I think I may have gone “poke crazy” one day. Either that or a signature on wall posts, however I don’t post to walls that much.

    Sent one email, then got a wishy washy answer, Then I pushed harder 3 weeks later.

    There was a “final answer” of sorry, can let you back on. But I resent a few more times and got a differant case #, as well as had some friends make a little noise.

    They let me back on, but I don’t know what I even did wrong. My “network” was more important than “having an account”. (note to self… put wife / friend as an admin on my “service page”

    Adam Nollmeyer
    Phoenix AZ Photographer

  21. The end result is – if they don’t get it together, they will alienate innocent, valuable members.

    Statistically, the percentage of false positives may be low – but if it happens to a high profile member or someone with media connections, the bad PR is incalculable.

  22. The end result is – if they don’t get it together, they will alienate innocent, valuable members.

    Statistically, the percentage of false positives may be low – but if it happens to a high profile member or someone with media connections, the bad PR is incalculable.

  23. This is unbelievable. Facebook can’t afford bad publicity like this, especially after they kicked you. After listening to this, it seems to be like Nathan wasn’t treated like a customer, he was treated like a commodity. In this day and age where a team of college kids could write a competing site in a short period of time, they can’t do this to people.

  24. This is unbelievable. Facebook can’t afford bad publicity like this, especially after they kicked you. After listening to this, it seems to be like Nathan wasn’t treated like a customer, he was treated like a commodity. In this day and age where a team of college kids could write a competing site in a short period of time, they can’t do this to people.

  25. Remember, folks, there’s that whole Internet thing out there.

    Why people fight over stuff like this when your energy could be put to better use leveraging another social network astounds me.

    FB is no Google, why do we expect them to be so open?

  26. Remember, folks, there’s that whole Internet thing out there.

    Why people fight over stuff like this when your energy could be put to better use leveraging another social network astounds me.

    FB is no Google, why do we expect them to be so open?

  27. The exact thing happened to me. Fashion.

    I had some of the biggest fashion groups in Canada, NYC and London. FB declared war.

    I *NEVER* spammed once. And all my work was community focused. All for the independent fashion scene.

    My attempts to contact them (very professionally) went ignored.

    I’ve lobbied against them ever since. Particularly having scrutinizes their privacy policies.

    Every time someone logs off of FB an angel gets their wings. I’m tellin’ you.

    — Blas

  28. The exact thing happened to me. Fashion.

    I had some of the biggest fashion groups in Canada, NYC and London. FB declared war.

    I *NEVER* spammed once. And all my work was community focused. All for the independent fashion scene.

    My attempts to contact them (very professionally) went ignored.

    I’ve lobbied against them ever since. Particularly having scrutinizes their privacy policies.

    Every time someone logs off of FB an angel gets their wings. I’m tellin’ you.

    — Blas

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