I realize It’s been a long time since I wrote a new blog post. I kept and regularly updated a blog for many years, but I abandoned it due to a combination of forces. Obviously, blogs aren’t as popular as they once were, and I found myself spending more time on Facebook, where I let my FB Author Page begin to be a substitute. Eventually, so much time had passed that WordPress updates meant my old posts were no longer linked to my front page … they still exist, but I haven’t felt motivated to reorganize them to make them more readily accessible.
Then on Monday, something changed that has me reconsidering my approach. Specifically, Facebook locked me out of my account, claiming suspicion of hacking, and has offered me no recourse to either prove my identity or resolve the situation. Certain Reddit threads claim similar issues went on for weeks or month. At this point, Facebook has laid siege to my account, my profile is dark to other users, and all I can see when I log in is a picture of a chain and a useless message.
The timing here is…interesting. For many months, I have distanced myself from Facebook for the sake of my own mental health. You may have heard stories claiming that Facebook knows its platform has harmful mental health outcomes for youth, but I can attest to it having harmful mental health outcomes for adults as well. From the constant political fear-mongering, complete with angry comments, to uncertainty over the content of my own posts, FB is a world of triggers for someone with serious social anxiety.
Since the start of COVID, things have grown worse. As an active member of several political groups, I watched the anger and fear rise until every time I logged in, I felt a knot of tension before I even began to read. And everyone is yelling at one another! Yes, I understand that might make me seem a little overly sensitive, but it isn’t like the yelling was an isolated incident, and it isn’t like anything is ever resolved. It’s much, much more a game of one-upsmanship and posturing to find a comfortable seat within one’s own echo chamber.
I’m not exactly both sidesing here. I have chosen a side, one I believe is largely right where the other is largely wrong. But I also believe that Facebook has created echo chambers of toxicity that have us spending our energy blaming one another rather than pausing to look at the real culprit: the platform itself.
It was against this backdrop that I went into my account Monday morning to perform a task I had promised to do as the communications chair of a political organization: share our monthly event to other local, like-minded political groups. I’ve performed precisely this task every month for two years; it’s something I have learned to do quickly and efficiently and, given that Facebook has become an increasing trigger in recent weeks, it’s something I wanted to have over and done with. Yet after sharing the event to about six groups, I got my locked out message and haven’t been able to get back in since.
Facebook won’t tell me why they locked me out, only that there was suspicious activity and they believe my account was hacked. I can infer from context that they no longer like me sharing an event to multiple private groups, but that’s not what they said.
Worse, there is no way to get in touch with Facebook support. There is no Facebook support. There are help pages and forms that you can fill out, and I even stumbled over an e-mail address that might or might not be legit … I have conveyed this problem through every outlet I could find, each one making me feel more angry and helpless than the last. The bottom line is that Facebook does not deign to communicate with its vast sea of users; they have all the control, and I have none.
So here I am, already triggered by Facebook in general terms, and now I’m being cast out. And as much as I’d like to simply say, “Okay, fine, I didn’t like you anyway!” the truth is that FB has successfully made themselves essential to both author marketing and political communication work.
What I will say instead is that if and when this situation is ever resolved, my relationship with FB will be changing. I cannot and will not rely upon them to have my best interests at heart, nor will I be lulled into a false sense of security that these things happen to someone else. They have now happened to me.
Step one: Restart my blog. I’ll share the posts through Twitter (and FB, if I’m ever let back in), but I will own the content and have full control over it.
Step two: Rediscover my friends outside of FB. If you’re a friend, and would like to stay in touch, please e-mail me @ firstname.lastname@example.org. I can and do reply to emails sent there.
Step three: Get back to writing to take my mind off of things. 🙂
Stay tuned for more coming soon!