It was a late Saturday afternoon when I tried to log onto my Facebook account and got a notice that my account was mysteriously disabled. Not only my profile, but also The Daily Minute fan-site that was registered in my name.
I followed a help link to complain and received an e-mail that innocently said:
Facebook User Operations has received your inquiry. Stand by as we should be back with you soon. In the meantime, we encourage you to review our ‘Help’ page (http://www.facebook.com/help.php). You’ll find lots of information about Facebook as well as many answers to your questions. Check out the FAQs on the Support page too.
Thanks for contacting Facebook and enjoy the site!
-Facebook User Operations
I felt a bit queasy about the dissonance between the casualness of the reply and the gravity of the situation.
For months I had been a little disenchanted with Facebook. The Daily Minute fan site was stalling badly while the You Tube site was picking up more and more views. The work I put into the Facebook Daily Minute fan-site was bringing in now diminishing returns, even as the site hovered towards a thousand fans.
I also had a pool of over a thousand friends. Most of whom I did not personally know, but who could have been important contacts in the future. truth be told, I had serious exchanges with about ten friends on a regular basis, but my profile posts, however received quite a few ” likes .”
I had no idea what a Facebook poke was and never ever used it. I sometimes sent private messages to people if I wanted to ask them more personal questions. All in all it was standard Facebook chatter.
People who sent spam to my in-box I reported, but the same spam still continued. Unless I sent a protest to the sender. Most of the time this was effective. Once again, annoying, but standard stuff. I removed all digital gifts because they cluttered my feed. These gift cycles came and went.
Again nothing really atypical.
As I was pondering my lame misfortune, Facebook sent another e-mail:
Your account was disabled because your behavior on the site was identified as harassing or threatening to other people on Facebook. Prohibited behavior includes, but is not limited to:
• Sending friend requests to people you don’t know
• Regularly contacting strangers through unsolicited Inbox messages
• Soliciting others for dating or business purposes
After reviewing your situation, we have determined that your behavior violated Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. You will no longer be able to use Facebook. This decision is final and cannot be appealed.
Please note that for technical and security reasons, we will not provide you with any further details about this decision.
The Facebook Team
Big Brother had spoken and said fuck you. The kangaroo court was now over.
Once more I took the train to Silicon Valley. It had been Google two weeks ago. What would happen now? The train seats still had that familiar squeaky sound as San Francisco’s blight was transformed into Silicon Valley sterility. The conductor announced how the train was going over reclaimed land that was filled in as long a go as 1903.
Planes silently lifted off from SFO.
It all felt kind of creepy.
I was going to Stanford University where Silicon Valley had been born after World War two with a lot big seed money from the US intelligence community. Unlike MIT which got most of its stash from the Pentagon during the same period.
Here I was in the hot sun sweating once more, walking to Facebook HQ and not knowing what to expect. I saw buildings with signs like ” The Human Genome Project,” and ” Institute for the Continuing Study of the California Economy. ” Pretty important sounding names. How would I be treated Facebook?
Google has been very rough.
There was the sign: FACEBOOK. The building looked big and formidable. I walked into the lobby and was greeted by a receptionist. I showed her a printed copy of the second E-mail I got and told her I wanted to avoid a law-suit. The guards nearby looked quizzically at me, but didn’t move.
The receptionist said, ” Well, the people who wrote this e-mail are in Dublin, Ireland. You can write a letter to them and I will scan it and send it to them for review. ” I said, “That’s fine, but I want to send a message directly to Mr. Zuckerberg. I don’t really talk to peons. ”
The receptionist slightly flinched and said she would scan my letter and also send it to the Facebook CEO.
The guard looked slightly startled, but Facebook understood PR relations and the atmosphere was never very tense. I told the guard, that the Facebook campus was much smaller than Google’s. ” well, they got a head-start, but we’re gonna beat them, ” he earnestly replied.
I wrote my letter and told Mr. Zuckerbeg the sordid details and that I would write about this massive Facebook transgression on my blog. I also said I would sue Facebook’s ass, and that sending friend requests to strangers was pretty much the norm on Facebook.
Duh, wake-up! ”
The receptionist offered me a cold bottle of water. ” We aim to please, ” she said. Yes, I certainly hoped that was true. As we further talked, Facebook employees went in and out of the reception hall. Totally oblivious to the drama that was now unfolding in front of them.
Was this all a weird dream?
The receptionist quickly scanned my letter and print-out and e-mailed them both to the drones of Dublin and in theory to the top honcho at Facebook.
I said in theory….
I took a few chocolates from the receptionist’s counter and had my photo taken by one of the guards next to the Facebook logo in the lobby.
I then took a free Facebook shuttle to the Palo Alto train station, but first the driver took me to the rest of the Facebook campus that was segregated from the building I had been in by about a third of a mile.
I gasped as I saw three massive buildings. ” What the hell is this? ” I asked the driver. ” This is the rest of the company, ” the driver who was Asian, said proudly. He let me get off and I took some more pictures with my cell-camera. Now I was starting to feel intimidated, but also I was a little awe-struck.
Would Facebook over-take Google?
I was the only guy on the shuttle.
On the train home I sat with three geeks. Two guys and a woman. The woman was reading from her prized Kindle. She and one of the male geeks had i-phones. The other guy had a blackberry and an i-pad.
I felt jealous.
I asked the woman if a Kindle was as good as a book. ” Yeah, ” she said. The guy with the i-pad told the other male geek. ” Man, you know, it was a bad day. My router just kept crashing on me. It really sucked. ”
I started to ponder my fate.
The geek with the i-pad told the woman with a sigh. ” You know, I deleted my Facebook account. I just kept getting messages from people I used to know, that I didn’t want to talk to anymore. I just said fuck it. ”
I looked out the window and sighed.
The train just moved on.
A day of reckoning was coming and faster than most people could possibly imagine.
There would be more Facebook murders.