On April 1, I woke up to learn my Facebook account had been disabled. I thought it was an April Fool’s joke at first. By the time the issue was resolved, I wasn’t laughing.
It had been weeks since the last time I posted to my account, a short message thanking people for wishing me a happy birthday. As you might suspect, my post was neither political nor sexually explicit in nature. There was a Carvel ice cream cake in the photo, but that tends to only trigger cravings, not microaggressions.
So, what did I do? Did I click on the wrong ad? Did I not bring enough Carvel cake to share with the group?
According to the support page I found, accounts are disabled when they “might not follow the Facebook Terms.” A few bullet points provided some examples (such as using a fake name), but my specific violation was not made clear. I was also instructed that Facebook “may not issue a warning before disabling your account.” No kidding.
I was given the chance to fill out a form and request a review. Basically, I typed in my name and sent them a picture of my driver’s license. A message came back immediately with the headline: “We Cannot Review the Decision to Disable Your Account.” It was then explained to me that my account was disabled because “it did not follow our Community Standards. This decision can’t be reversed.”
Then, right before lunchtime, my account was active again. No email, no explanation. Apparently, I was not the only person affected by this, as Meta’s Andy Stone acknowledged via Twitter that a “technical issue” caused a “small number of people to have trouble accessing Facebook.” All I know for sure is that I wasted a lot of time that morning trying to be paroled from “Facebook Jail.”
And there is today’s lesson, folks: Customer service matters. Of course, the people who use Facebook aren’t really the customers, are we? Once it became an advertising platform, we became the product that’s sold to advertisers.
Still, while I was scrambling to regain access to more than a decade of memories and personal connections stretching back to elementary school, I did not at any time feel valued. At one point, I left the platform to find a Facebook phone number—and was then told by a very pleasant voice on a recorded message that there was no phone support available for the likes of me. Yes, my account and data are accessible once again, but it sure seems like Facebook has made a concerted effort to make it incredibly difficult for users to resolve issues, let alone talk to a real human being.
When dealing with AV equipment, customers are going to have problems, and many of them can’t troubleshoot past the “shut it off, wait 10 seconds, turn it back on” move. Don’t make it difficult for your customers to find you when they have technical issues that are impacting their productivity. Endless hold times and unanswered emails will not make them feel valued. In fact, it might just leave them searching for a new platform.