Facebook Cleanup Efforts

July 17, 2006

Jeffrey Lehman was not the only profile affected by Facebook’s recent cleanup efforts. A quick search yielded other similar stories.

On May 8, a contributor wrote to Columbia’s Bwog:

The Harvard-spawned fascists who control facebook.com apparently have begun purging the site of one of its best features: funny profiles.

It seems they decided that Aaron Burr didn’t do his job properly the first time (did you expect any better from a Princeton alum?) and deleted Alexander Hamilton’s profile. Over 1200 Columbians and 1000 other students nationwide lost a dear friend. I attempted to log in today and received this gloating error message: “Your account has been disabled by an administrator. Please contact info@facebook.com for more information.”

The MIT student Anders Kaseorg emailed Facebook on March 28:

It’s not a fake name at all. I already have an account–I’m Anders Kaseorg. I just also have an account for my cow, who really is called the “Cow with No Name” (long story). This account represents my cow: it uses a (working) email address specific to my cow, has profile details about my cow, and friends people who are acquainted with my cow.

If you’re actually shutting down accounts like this, why are you picking on my poor cow instead of the 49 members of the self-proclaimed “Fake-ass People” group? Accounts such as “Charles Vest” really *could* be mistaken for the real former MIT president. But my cow never hurt anyone.

Anders

The response he received:

Hey,

Facebook is intended to facilitate communication between real people, and your cow is not a real person. We are working on taking down all of these other fake accounts as well, but as I’m sure you can imagine, this takes awhile. Thanks again for your understanding and cooperation in this.


Simon
Customer Service Representative
Facebook

The entire conversation is available on his personal blog.

It’s a cruel world. There must be many more stories like these two.


Facebook Apologizes

July 13, 2006

Well, it’s official now. The account was not reactivated due to a glitch or an error. It was in fact due to the email conversation held with Christina, the Facebook customer service representative. An email confirmation of this arrived today.

From: Paul from Facebook:

Hi,

After further review, we are going to allow you to continue to use this account under the name you have listed. Your account is presently active. Let me know if you have any trouble using it. I apologize for any inconvenience.


Paul
Customer Service Representative
Facebook

Even the apology I was looking for is there. But who is Paul?


Emails to Facebook

July 10, 2006

Experiment over? That just did not seem right. Something had to be done. A string of emails followed.

To: info@facebook.com (6/14):

Your account has been disabled by an administrator. Please contact info@facebook.com for more information.

From: Christina from Facebook (6/15):

Hey,

Fake names are a violation of our Terms of Use. If you would like to use this profile again, just get back to us with your real name and we will reactivate the account for you.

Thanks for contacting Facebook.


Christina
Customer service representative
Facebook Team

To: Christina from Facebook (6/15):

I apologize for violating your Terms of Use. However, the Terms of Use (or any other section of the website) do not specify what criteria is used to determine whether a name is fake or real. Please clarify this for me.

Also, while a member of Facebook is sent an email about most events, such as a friend request or a wall posting, no alert is sent out upon termination of the account. Why am I expected to respect your rules while you fail to show me even minimal courtesy?

Thank you in advance for addressing my concerns.

From: Christina from Facebook (6/20):

Hi,

Please provide me with your real name and I’ll be more than happy to reactivate your account.

Thanks,


Christina
Customer service representative
Facebook Team

To: Christina from Facebook (6/22):

I fully understand your request.

What I need from you is the criteria used for determining whether a name is fake or real. I would like the information necessary to avoid going through this process again.

I can easily find numerous fake accounts on Facebook. I would like to know why my account was removed and those are still active. If for some reason you are not aware of their existence and I provide you with a list of account IDs I am referring to, will those accounts be removed?

Thank you in advance for addressing my concerns.

From: Christina from Facebook (6/26):

Hi,

Your profile was reported to us and upon investigation was deemed fake. To avoid going through this process again please provide me with your real name.

Thanks!


Christina
Customer service representative
Facebook Team

To: Christina from Facebook (6/27):

Hi Christina,

I feel like we are going in a circle here. I will try to rephrase my previous question one more time. Please answer it this time.

How do you report a profile and what is necessary to have it removed? I would like to help you in your quest to keep Facebook “real”.

Thank you.

From: Christina from Facebook (7/5):

Hi,

Any user can report a profile, picture, group, event, message etc by clicking on the ‘report’ tab on that page. Upon further investigation it was found that the account was fake. The email address does not match the registered name.

Thanks,


Christina
Customer service representative
Facebook Team

To: Christina from Facebook (7/5):

Hi.

Thank you for clarifying the procedure for reporting fake profiles.

The email address that was listed on my Facebook account and the one I used to sign in to Facebook is the same one I have been using to correspond with you. Which part of it does not match?

So far you have not provided me with any evidence that would indicate that my profile is “fake” in any way. I would like to have my account restored until you can prove otherwise.

Thank you.

The world may never know if it was due to this conversation or some glitch in the system, but the profile was reactivated a few days ago. An apology is certainly in order if so many emails were necessary to get to this point.


Experiment Not Over

July 7, 2006

Experiment over? The news did not go unnoticed. It even made the MetaEzra “In Brief” section:

President Lehman’s fake facebook profile has been removed, while Skorton’s reportedly non-fake profile remains. But will the blog continue? And just who is redprez?

Luckily one of those questions can now be answered. After a lengthy email conversation with Facebook, Jeffrey Lehman ’77 is back for an encore. But how did this happen? And why did it take so long? Stay tuned for answers to those questions.